Junk Food VS. Play Food

So many of us have been taught to see certain foods as bad, unhealthy, junk etc. while other foods are seen as healthy, good, and clean (as well as many other words we tend to bestow them with)! This is incredibly problematic. If we tend to think of food this way, what typically happens when we eat a food that we would consider less then healthy? We feel guilty! (Sometimes intensely so).

 These feelings of guilt not only can quickly begin to preoccupy our thoughts, but they are very likely to lead us to thoughts like “ugh I already blew it I might as well just keep eating” (even if we are not hungry any longer), as well as thoughts of needing to “start fresh”. This usually looks like having thoughts along the lines of “I’ll start diet X tomorrow”, or “Well this is the last time I’m going to have food X so I might as well enjoy it” and many other similar thoughts that tend to lead us into you guess it.. the diet binge cycle.

Additionally, it is not even accurate to label food this way. While foods do have differing nutritional content, a food is not “bad” or “good” because of its nutritional content, it just is. It simply has a different nutritional content then other foods. So how do we stop thinking of foods as healthy or junk food? One thing that is often helpful is to refer to those foods as play foods rather than junk, unhealthy etc. This is actually a much more accurate description of these foods. They are foods you truly enjoy and are eating them because of that, not because of their nutritional value. It also serves to take away some of the stigma and guilt that tend to surround these foods (play sound so much more fun, and it should be fun)! Lastly, it is really important to keep in mind that food is not a moral issue! Talking about food in moralistic terms is not just not helpful in our journey towards eating more mindfully, it is actually incredibly inaccurate. It truly is just food, whatever the food item is.

Questions about play foods or anything else food/body image related? Feel free to get in touch!