The following words and terms are commonly heard not only in my own practice, but among fellow dietitians as well. We are tired of hearing these words. Why? Because these are non-sensical terms that get thrown around too often and set untrue or unrealistic expectations about appearance or the quality of our food.
Past brides use this term very frequently when asked about their weight loss goal. Are you implying that this was the least you ever weighed in your whole life? Were drastic measures taken to get this weight? Do you spend too much time staring at photos of you in your wedding dress? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to work on some realistic goals. This also holds true for the similar term “High School Weight”.
“Good Food/Bad Food”
One thing I try to enforce with my clients is that all foods fit. Yes, there are certainly some foods that should be eaten on a regular basis more than others. However, it’s not fair to demonize certain foods or groups. Setting a “bad food” mentality for yourself only makes you crave certain foods more, and causes you to be harder on yourself if you happen to enjoy a few french fries or a piece of cake at a friend’s wedding. Understanding how to moderate your food intake is a major focus of this blog.
Ask any dietitian, and they will tell you this is the #1 term they are tired of hearing. Again, it has absolutely no meaning. If I don’t buy all organic foods, have a piece of chocolate, or don’t make the 45-min trip to my nearest Whole Foods, does that mean I’m a dirty eater? I also find this term promotes food shaming- i.e. “My diet is better than yours.” There is a fine line between being inspirational to your friends and a food bully- don’t cross it.
As a former ad executive, I can tell you what this term means from a marketing standpoint: I can charge you more for these cookies because I have stamped “organic” on the packaging. First and foremost, we have to look at what the term organic means, as defined by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). “Organic” is simply a labeling term indicating if a food or agricultural product is produced using approved methods integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical processes that promote sustainability, ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity; no synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering can be used. Click here for more info from the USDA. Organic does not imply that the product is nutritionally superior, magical, or lower in calories/fat/carbs/sugar/etc that it’s non-organic counterpart.
Unlike “organic”, “natural” does not have a defined meaning. Again, it is primarily a marketing term used. Per the FDA, because most foods are processed to some degree and do not come directly from earth, it is difficult to define what “natural” actually means. Therefore, the FDA permits companies to label foods as “natural” if they are minimally processed, contain no added colors, flavors, or synthetic substances. Again, no superpowers found here.