Can we eat too healthy?
According to the internet and diet culture, all foods are toxic.
« Fruits contain too much sugar! »
« Soy causes cancer and infertility! »
« Legumes cause inflammation, avoid! »
Through these myths, diet culture never ceases to instill fear in us about food and what might happen if we had the misfortune to eat “imperfectly”. For some people, these messages easily become stressful, even overwhelming, and lead to a desire to eat as healthily as possible by eliminating one threatening food after another.
Does the perfect recipe for the diet that will make you immortal really exist?
In truth, the science of nutrition is still very young. Throughout its history, several questionable recommendations based on the research of the time for making healthier food choices were made early on. A prime example is fat. From the 1950s, recommendations began to encourage the adoption of a low-fat diet for better cardiovascular health. In later years, we learned that fats were actually very important for health, and then the recommendations changed to restrict trans and saturated fats and favor unsaturated fats. Finally, in recent years, studies have increasingly questioned this relentlessness against saturated fats.
What a puzzle! Don’t you agree? And that’s just one nutrient! All this to say that the impact of food choices on health remains much more complex and mysterious than we are led to believe.
It is true that diet is one of the determinants of overall health and there is obviously nothing wrong with choosing to eat in a way that will support our health to the best of our knowledge if it is important to us. On the other hand, this devotion can become too extensive and have negative impacts on other aspects of our lives. Eh yes! Taken to extremes, the search for the perfect diet can be detrimental to both physical and psychological health.
When the pursuit of the perfect diet becomes obsessive, people tend to increasingly reduce the number of foods deemed acceptable and beneficial. But it’s not for nothing that the body needs variety. Each food contains a unique combination of nutrients that allows us to meet our long-term needs. When we reduce food variety, we can develop deficiencies in energy, proteins, vitamins or minerals which, in turn, can affect the functions of the body, for example by weakening the immune system and delaying wound healing.
A lack of dietary diversity can also lead to digestive issues. By not being used to its full potential, the digestive system can become slower and produce fewer digestive enzymes. Digestive discomfort following the reintroduction of excluded foods is often mistakenly attributed to the belief that these foods are toxic or harmful, and therefore our bodies reject them. In fact, restrictions could be the cause of new food intolerances and digestive symptoms that will resolve over time and with proper nutrition.
The obsessive pursuit of health through food can greatly affect social life and overall quality of life. Eating, an essential and ubiquitous act, can become very complicated and generate intrusive thoughts, guilt if one eats something deemed suboptimal, anxiety when one cannot control the food supply and isolation if you prefer not to eat with others or not to eat the same foods as them.
The impact of foods on health goes beyond the nutrients they contain. Eating includes a social, cultural and emotional aspect that all contribute to psychological and overall health.
All foods have their place
The nutritional value of food can guide our food choices, but to have a more harmonious relationship with food, many other factors should also be taken into account and could be just as (or even more) important to you. Here are some examples:
All foods have their place in a balanced diet, whether they’re nutrient-dense or not, whether they’re picked straight from the tree or ultra-processed. They all have the potential to provide energy, nutrients and pleasure, and can all contribute to overall good physical and psychological health.
If you recognize yourself in this article, let us help you. It is possible to find joy, freedom and balance through your diet.
Danya Beauregard, Nutritionist, Dt,P., RD