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Pssst. The best food isn’t always forbidden

Times have changed. Our relationship to food and lifestyles have changed. Now it’s time to transform our thinking.

Why does Cardi B (and Maroon 5) think the “best food is always forbidden“? This line in that song “Girl Like You” was the inspiration to write this blog.

I love listening to music when I drive, cook, clean, and work out. So chances are in a given week, I’ve got quite a few songs in my head that span decades and genres.

When I watch movies and TV, I almost always notice what foods and beverages are shown in dining scenes, too. Maybe it’s because of my career, or maybe it’s just personal interest in noticing “all” the details provided to support a story line. It’s actually both.

Food is part of our story. How we think about it and how we choose it is an important part of the conversation when trying to make informed choices to support health.

What we all think is the “best food” is a personal thing. I love Bing cherries in summer. sweet red summer cherriesHoneycrisp apples and squash in fall/winter.  Shrimp and sea bass? Tops on my list, too. A really well made salad with a zingy, vinegar based dressing? Yes, please. Oh, and fyi, none of these are forbidden (unless true allergies or medications dictate otherwise). I could go on by each food group…

chocolate chip cookies and milkDon’t get me wrong. I also enjoy a fresh, warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie (extra chips, please) on occasion. Notice I said “ON OCCASION”.

Unless your medical history says so, nothing is forbidden. There are just some foods that fit into a healthful lifestyle better than others do.

So, what do you do about this? First of all, smile and nod knowingly when you hear someone say something is forbidden, because you know that really isn’t true in most instances.  Next, ask yourself what your list of “best foods” is and why.  For taste? Health? Both?  Figure out if your personal health goals and your daily choices align with the finish line you’ve picked. And let’s be honest. We know some foods are not really supporting our health goals. If there needs to be a course correction in frequency, you can do it. When you are ready.

Give yourself some wiggle room. You may have different needs and goals on your birthday or a special holiday. party food

The other thing to do? Research and read the story of the food. If it’s super decadent or a total treat and not really a nutrition choice, say like Panettone. Why in the world did we started eating it?Italian sweet bread In the case of Panettone, it was a special food made from “hard to come by” ingredients that wasn’t eaten every day. Time travelers from the 15th century would likely faint or at least have their eyes pop out of their heads if they got the chance to transport to today and visit a store with this elegant treat stacked up on some random weekday to eat whenever. Not the original intention of this treat.

Times have changed. Our relationship to the origin of our food has changed. We as a culture have moved away from the farm individually and entrusted our food production to farmers (thank you, farmers!). Transform your thinking and consider our current more sedentary lifestyles and our longer length of life, too. …And yes, you can find a thoughtful moment in a pop song. If you look for it.

song stuck in head

By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.