Helpful vs. Unhelpful
When it comes to your perspective on food, most people label food as either good or bad.
This labelling of good or bad can have quite a negative mental impact and can make it harder to attain your goals. Labelling food as bad usually brings with it a whole Pandora's box of guilt, shame and negativity towards both the food and also yourself for actually eating it. These negative feelings and self-talk can snowball and before you know it, you're way off track and are further away from attaining your goals.
How can we change these thoughts and negativity towards food and stay on track towards our goals?
Simple. Change your perspective. Label foods differently.
Instead of labelling foods as either good or bad, label them as helpful or unhelpful.
Being very clear on what your health and fitness goals are, is crucial for this to work.
For example, eating carbs for every meal is helpful for a marathon runner (because you can burn off all that fuel with your training), but for someone who has a desk job and wants fat loss, eating carbs for every meal is unhelpful. Conversely a low carb eating plan is very helpful for fat loss but unhelpful for running a marathon or any other endurance sport.
So, if your aim is fat loss and to be lean...the daily cereals and sandwiches are unhelpful because they're full of processed carbs that spike insulin sending you into 'storage mode'. And that commercial chocolate you're having every arvo at 3pm, it's not bad it's just unhelpful because it full of sugar and bad fats. Having a couple pieces of raw, dark, sugar free chocolate (find em at health food stores, loving earth is a good brand, or better yet, make your own!) a couple times a week is actually helpful because it has no nasty additives and is very nutrient dense (full of antioxidants!) plus it'll still satisfy a sweet craving. Remember, moderation not deprivation!
Eating a high carb diet (eg: cereal for breaky, sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner) when you have a sedentary lifestyle (do you sit at a desk all day?) is unhelpful when fat loss is your number one priority, because of the constant insulin/storage/spill-over effect and inability to burn off those carbs. But having a small bowl of pasta or some homemade mash potato as part of your post workout meal, or high carb day, is helpful because of the timing of those nutrients and the body's requirement for a carb refuel after training. If you have the odd higher carb meal on a non-training day that's not so bad as it's not excessive in the grand scheme of things (take into consideration your weekly calorie intake not just your daily intake).
We can also take certain foods that are traditionally unhelpful and turn them in to helpful foods (in relation to your fat loss goals). Take for example cakes, biscuits and other assorted baked goods. Traditionally they are unhelpful because they're made with white flour and lots of sugar (not helpful for fat loss at all!). Instead, you can turn them into helpful fat loss friendly foods by making the equivalent out of almond meal (high in healthy fats and protein) or coconut flour (higher in carbs but low GI, full of fiber and nutrient dense). There are a ton of great helpful recipes out there with these ingredients and most are sugar free too. So, it'll be win, win... Fat loss friendly, low carb baked goods that are nutritionally dense that will be helpful for you achieving your goals. You really can have your cake and eat it too!
As a side note, remember at the end of the day it's still about calories in vs. calories out. So, one piece may be nutrient dense and helpful, but eating the whole cake may not be because it's still calorie dense and calories coming in!
It's a matter of perspective and being clear on what goals you wish to achieve.
If you practice switching around your vocab and internal dialogue to helpful and unhelpful, I promise you'll find it extremely helpful!