A market research company recently inquired what I teach my clients during sessions. This company was interested in my dietetic work, even though I am also a mental health counselor. They asked me if I talk to clients about specific foods that they should or should not eat. If you read this post then you will already know my opinion on specific foods being labeled as "good" or "bad." I explained why I do not recommend certain foods over others and why I do not call foods "good" or "bad." I tried to explain that I tailor recommendations to what the client is already eating, their food likes and dislikes, and their goals for their health and nutrition. The market research team did not like this answer; it seemed like they wanted me to say, 'I tell people don't eat____, and do eat______'.
Recently, I was having a discussion with one of my clients about the importance of loving her body just the way it is now. This woman is moderately overweight and is having a difficult time learning to love her body. We discussed how she reacts to feelings about her body. When she doesn’t love her body, she develops negative feelings towards it. When she feels negative about her body, she is more likely to abuse it. So she continues the cycle of abusing her body with food, which keeps her in a perpetually overweight and unhealthy state. She understands this idea and agrees with it; yet it remains a difficult concept for anyone in her situation to accept. While discussing this at a recent session she said, “Well it’s easy for you to say that because you are thin.” This comment stopped me in my tracks.
Oh New Years… The start of a new year, a fresh start, a time to really start living life…right? The truth is, I used to make New Years Resolutions. They typically involved things like ‘see my friends more’, ‘work harder’, or ‘eat less sugar’. The most common resolutions Americans make are to lose weight, eat healthier, and make more money. I would like to propose something new for you to try this year; NOT making any resolutions. I am not saying that it is wrong of you to want to make your life better. If you are overweight and it is causing health problems then I applaud you for wanting to lose weight to be healthier. If you believe making more money will help you live a happier life then that is great to have this as a goal.
Almost every day in my office I hear a client say that they ate a certain food because it was “good” or they try to avoid all “bad foods”. Another frequent discussion is a client stating “I am a bad person” because I ate a cookie, pizza, cake, or another food that is often deemed “bad” by society, or they say “I was good today”. Their determination of them “being good” is based on only eating foods that day that they determine to be “good”. My question is “When did food develop morals?” I often joke to clients about the time I threw an almond at the wall during a session just to prove to that client that the almond “didn’t have feelings and therefore could not be inherently good or bad”. The almond was not mad at me for throwing it against the wall because it has NO FEELINGS, and therefore, no sense of right and wrong.