Why do we think of food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

There’s an article in today’s The Observer which addresses the morality of food, and why we now see certain types of food – cakes! – as ‘bad’ while others – vegetables mainly – are taking the moral high-ground and get labelled as ‘good’.

“For as long as we can remember, the British have associated delicious food with depraved indulgence. Anything that tastes good has got to be bad for your body, soul or both.”

This echoes discussions found in podcasts I’ve been listening to recently (The Bod Cast and Mind Body Musings). The more aware you become of the fact that most of us think of food as good or bad, naughty or nice, the more you realise how indoctrinated we are to think this way. It’s a modern thing – pushed even further by the popularity of ‘clean eating’ in recent years. Hell, only today at brunch one of my friends said to the table: “Should I go for the good option or the fun option?”, putting the vote out to those around it as in an attempt to be persuaded one way or the other.

Why is there such a moral question around food? 

We want to eat better, nourish our bodies and souls, we want to ‘be good’, and then push decisions to our friends and families when we actually want something that’s been deemed as ‘naughty/bad’. Why can’t we choose things ourselves? Why can’t we look at food and think of it only as food, and that ANY AND ALL foods can and should be enjoyed. The problem is not the food. The problem is the amount and frequency of when we eat it. With food being abundantly available in developed societies, moderation has become problematic.

After years of dieting (feeling great as long as I stuck to the rules), then only to end up binging in secrecy and feeling shit about myself, I’m working on retraining myself into eating intuitively. This means no food item is on the naughty list. I’m going to listen to my body and what it wants – be it sugar, fat, carbs, meat, vegetables. It’s not going to be easy – years of abusing my body and mind, denying myself the pleasure of food will help do that. But it’s not impossible.

It’s time to feed my body and soul. Enjoy the pleasures of life and be happy.


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