holiday cookies good and bad foods

3 Truths about Good and Bad Holiday Foods

Out of curiosity, I just performed a quick Google search for “bad foods.” Some of the top results were titled:

  • 20 Foods That Are Bad For Your Health (Avoid Them!)
  • 50 Seemingly Healthy Foods that are Bad for You
  • 75 Unhealthiest Foods On the Planet
  • 25 foods you shouldn’t eat
  • 17 “Healthy” Foods You Actually Need to Avoid

Apparently using a number in the title and making strong statements drive traffic so I figured I’d do the same. Ha! In all seriousness though, what’s the deal? 75 of the unhealthiest foods? How many total foods are even out there? Are we talking about real foods at all? When I read a title like this, I immediately think, “what is left?” It’s enough to scare people out of eating anything or doing the opposite and thinking “why not?! It’s all bad for me anyway!” Not to mention fear tactics rarely work long term.

Truth #1: The definition of “bad food” varies widely from person to person.

First, let me clarify that when I use the words “bad food(s),” I’m using it to mean food that when ingested may cause adverse side effects, symptoms or other medical or emotional struggles. For the diabetic, we may say bad foods are those that are high in sugar. For the celiac or non-celiac gluten intolerant, it’s gluten. For the overweight, some may say foods that are high in fat are the bad foods (although this is arguable).

Unfortunately using a generic descriptor such as “bad food” doesn’t really clarify all that much. We are very unique individuals and the foods our bodies thrive or struggle on can vary widely from person to person due to genetics, environment, activity level, age, health struggles and more. For example, when we lived unknowingly in a home with toxic mold, I did not tolerate any foods that were high in histamine. And guess what? Many of those were otherwise healthy foods for the average person such as avocados, bananas, eggs, and raspberries. 

Truth #2: Using this definition can lead to other unhealthy behaviors.

Being obsessed with eating only “good foods” to the extent that it damages aspects of your health and livelihood, has a name: orthorexia. For example, if eating only “good foods” keeps us from social interaction and leads to loneliness, our life expectancies DECREASE.

One study showed loneliness can pose a greater health risk than obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Let that sink in. When we demonize certain foods, we are at risk of avoiding holiday gatherings entirely so that we’re not tempted by all those bad foods before us. This is very common when we are trialing elimination diets (which honestly can be extremely helpful but that’s for another post). We have to have a different way of thinking through the situation.

Truth #3: We find what we focus on.

Focusing on everything we can’t eat this holiday season? Guess what will be front and center in our minds? If I go to a party thinking, “This is going to be terrible. I’m on a diet so I can’t eat anything with sugar, dairy or grains in it. I just WISH I could have Aunt Marg’s apple pie topped with whipped cream.” We are setting ourselves up for misery and likely even failure. How many times do we end up throwing in the towel and saying “to heck with it?”

Instead, we could be going into these holiday events thinking about other wonderful things we’ll enjoy (maybe the company, the fun, or a glass of wine). We could practice focusing our minds on being grateful for where we are and what we already have. We could think through “what foods can I have that would be both healthy and nourishing for me at this time?” Lastly, knowing that for most of us, a sweet treat here and there in the context of a celebration, may be a perfectly wonderful “good” thing.

Interested in learning and chatting a bit more about thriving through the holidays?

Join us for a FREE FB Live “Thriving through the Holidays” training Wednesday, November 7th from 8:30-9:30p EST over in the Wellness with Terra Community group. Mark your calendars and join the group today! Those who participate live will have the opportunity to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card in addition to learning some incredibly useful tools for transforming your holidays. How about we do more than simply survive this year? Let’s thrive together!

Until next time…

Take care,

Terra