“Good” Foods and “Bad” Foods: Do They Exist?

Good foods and bad foods.

Do they exist?

The issue gets really complicated really quickly.

On the one hand you have every diet magazine/book/website giving you tips for how to avoid “bad” foods–implying that they DO exist.

How to get them out of your diet.

How not to crave them.

Why these bad foods are keeping you from reaching your weight loss goals.

On the other hand you have the Intuitive Eating movement telling you that there are no such things as “good” foods and “bad” foods–obviously telling you that they DON’T exist.

That all foods are created equal.

And on the other, other hand, you have the Paleo Movement telling you that there are definitely bad foods…aka grains, legumes, added sugar and modern dairy.

There are so many hands out there trying to tell you what’s good and bad that it’s no wonder most people are super confused.

Seriously confused.

So. Are there “good” foods and “bad” foods?

My answer to that is:


I really don’t like the labels “good” and “bad” when it comes to food.

I prefer the approach of the Whole9— they categorize foods into those that make you more healthy and those that make you less healthy.

The difference between these two sets of adjectives is that one implies morality while the other turns everything into a choice.

When you think of foods as “good” and “bad,” eating “good” foods makes you a good person.

And eating “bad” foods makes you a bad person.

When you think of foods in terms of how they impact your health, whether they have the power to make you healthier or less healthy, everything is a choice.

You can choose foods that make you healthier.

You can choose foods that make you less healthy.

It’s not a matter of what kind of person you are.

You’re taking the power into your own hands and making a choice.

Everything is a choice.

Food in terms of health

So let’s stop labeling foods “good” and “bad,”

and start labeling them as “make YOU more healthy” and “makes YOU less healthy.”

Every food we know has the opportunity to be a “good” food or a “bad” food for any given person.

There are certain foods that will make me healthy, but will make my friend less healthy.

Almond butter helps me feel satisfied and gives me energy, but my friend is allergic to tree nuts…hence almond butter is a good food for me, and definitely a bad food for her.

Let’s stop labeling foods “good” and “bad,” take away the morality of certain foods, and make everything into a choice.

Taking away the “good” and “bad” labels gives you the power to choose the best possible foods for yourself.

The foods that will make you more healthy

While at the same time keeping you from becoming a bad person if you choose food that makes you less healthy.

When the focus is your health, there’s less pressure on you to make certain food choices.

Because your life is your health.

and your life is a forward journey where occasionally choosing food that makes you less healthy won’t kill you.

(unless you’re allergic to nuts…and then it might).

What do you think? Is there such a thing as a “good” food or “bad” food? Feel free to share in the comments below


3 Responses to “Good” Foods and “Bad” Foods: Do They Exist?

  1. Jenifer M May 16, 2013 at 9:51 AM #

    I like this approach.
    Puts a more positive spin on it all!
    Thanks, great post

  2. Kate @ Eat, Recycle, Repeat May 19, 2013 at 9:36 PM #

    I couldn’t agree more! I used to beat myself up about how I would eat, but now I just know that there are foods that work and foods that don’t work for me. Taking judgement and shame out of the conversation was so helpful and life-altering. Let’s just focus on nourishment! Great post


  1. Real Food Weekly Link Love- May 24th | RealFoodGirl:Unmodified - May 24, 2013

    […] Tired of hearing people say “That’s a BAD food”… or, “That’s a GOOD food”?  I’m guilty of saying it and I’m guilty of being tired of hearing it.  I think when we start labeling things it can become too easy to get overwhelmed and overly stressed.  In this post, Allison from the Frisky Lemon tells us to look at foods as healthy for us and not so healthy for us.  Here is “Good” Foods and “Bad” Foods– Do they exist? […]

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