The Morality of Food
Food has no morality. It cannot be good nor can it be bad. This is my philosophy, the way I live my life, the way I will try to help others live their lives.
I hear from a lot of people and even other dietitians that certain foods are “bad” therefore they should not be eaten and you should feel guilty about doing so if you choose to partake. While there are foods that may not improve and maximize your physical health, that does not mean that they cannot help you in a different way.
My favorite way to explain this is broccoli is good for your body, but cupcakes are good for your soul.
One food will feed your body physically and one will feed your body mentally. There is no need to feel guilty about eating any particular food, especially if it is going to help nourish your soul! Although there is a line between nourishing your soul and eating unhealthily, which is where moderation comes into play. I will talk about this in an upcoming post as this one is already long enough.
As a soon-to-be dietitian, a dietetic intern, and a nutrition major, I know a lot of people ask me how they should eat or tell me not to look at their food. Trust me, we are not here to judge you for what you are eating! We want to improve your relationship with food and then maybe try to get you to eat a vegetable every now and then.
I’m sure we can all name foods people associate with some type of morality. I often hear morality assigned to foods such as traditional foods around the holidays, salads, and whole milk/cream vs nonfat milk, which is probably the one that irks me the most. If you like the taste of nonfat that is awesome and keep drinking, but if you only drink it because it is “healthier” I would like to know what makes it healthier. Is it because there are fewer calories? Less fat? This is going to make it difficult for you absorb any nutrients from it. What good is the Vitamin D you consume in your milk if there is no fat to help absorb it? And then without that Vitamin D, it will be much more difficult to absorb the Calcium. Sometimes you just need the fat of whole milk and cream for certain things. I am a huge crème brûlée fan, and there is no way that would set if you used anything other than heavy cream. If you are going to make a creamy soup, a little cream goes a long way to ensure a smooth texture, which would not be possible had the soup been made with nonfat milk.
No food is good and no food is bad. It is all the dosage that determines the poison. Even the “healthiest” food can make you sick if you eat too much, so eat a balance of the foods that will nourish your body and those that will nourish your soul. Each is so important to your overall health and without one or the other, you are bound to become sick. Honestly, I have no idea what I would do without pastries and desserts and if you’re reading this, you probably know how important baking is to me. I try to never deny myself something sweet, but most of the time I try to make better choices. There are ways to get that sweet fix without eating a bunch of sugar (my favorite is to sauté some apples with cinnamon and ginger) so you can wait for something truly decadent!
If you are someone who categorizes foods into healthy or unhealthy, I hope this has helped to open your eyes the gray area that is the world of food and nutrition! Gray areas are more fun anyway! And remember, since food is neither good nor bad, it cannot make you guilty, so there is no reason to feel guilty for feeding your soul.