The argument about which food or food groups are good and which are bad is going on for about ages. People who believe in the “good food vs. bad food” mindset include some very famous people and people with great bodies with huge followings and they preach this approach like a religion to their followers, as these people have a great deal of success following this approach.
Regardless of the way you achieve success with this approach, it is not and should not be considered a long haul solution as it most certainly creates an undesirable relationship with food. Developing eating disorders to achieve and maintain your fitness goals is the last thing that you should be looking at doing. Rather than attempting to evade the utilization of "bad foods", a superior outlook to have is moving toward nutrition with the objective of being inclusive rather than exclusive. This means we need to receive an approach of including "healthy" nutrient dense foods, as opposed to barring foods that won't not have these characteristics.
Now, let's get this clear, there are no foods that are inherently unhealthy for you which means there is no food out that that you can eat once and do harm to your body regardless of the quantity. The reason that some foods are labelled “bad” is because of the lack or low availability of micronutrients and nutrients like protein and fiber etc. A better term to use should be “empty calories” rather than calling them bad. This term means that while these foods contribute to your calorie and macronutrient counts, they won't do much to satisfy your micronutrient requirements. While this description is relatively accurate, it doesn't mean these foods should be villainized and completely avoided.
What you should keep in mind is that you do not necessarily have to remove these “empty calories” from your diet as they can only be detrimental when you eat the majority of your calories out of your diet from them. Just make sure that you have included the “healthy foods” on priority in your diet and your nourishment i.e your nutrient needs are taken care of. After that, feel free to have the “bad foods” (which really aren't bad at all) in moderation as this will improve your flexibility and therefore your consistency. Doing so will also keep the psychological stress of dieting at bay as you will feel more normal, have more flexibility, less restriction, and ultimately more long-term adherence and success. For example sugar, which isn't inherently bad for you or fattening as some people claim, it is a carbohydrate like any other and has the same caloric value of 4 kcals per gram, the reason why sugar is avoided because it is not very satiating, for example - take 30 gram rice and 30 gram sugar, which food do you think will fill you up better? Also, when you are eating in a caloric deficit to lose fat, the quantity of food you get to eat is less, eating sugar only makes it lesser, also it is devoid of micronutrients and there are better options like fruits and artificial sweeteners but if your calorie quota allows you to have sugar, you most certainly can.
Remember, your body does not know what “good” or “bad” foods are. Food that you eat, whether it be sweets and namkeens or chicken and broccoli, is fuel for the body which is used as energy. So, if you are trying to lose weight, as long as the energy intake is lesser than energy expenditure you cannot gain weight as you do not have extra energy coming in to be stored as body fat. Also, when you have met your basic micronutrient needs, there is no benefit of eating extra micronutrients and once your body gets more than enough micronutrients, it doesn't continue to benefit from more.Conclusion
Instead of worrying about which food is good or bad, you need to assess if your entire diet is good or bad. Believe it or not, a rigid “clean vs. dirty” diet can actually result in a poorer nutrient profile than an approach that includes a broader spectrum of foods. Claiming that you are doing it to get healthy but eating only a handful of foods everyday is just plain stupid. If you cut out almost every food or food group, you end up with an incredibly limited diet that is unlikely to satisfy your micronutrient needs. This leads to you being unable to digest “non-clean” foods without incredible discomfort due to the loss of the enzymes and gut bacteria that are essential for the digestion of a wide variety of foods.
Nav Dhillon is an online coach with GetSetGo Fitness, an online fitness company that helps people with fitness goals right from losing weight to competing in bodybuilding shows. Nav is an avid bodybuilding enthusiast and heads the NABBA (National amateur bodybuilders association) as a General Secretary. This innate passion and position has helped him work with a lot of bodybuilders to help them take their physique at the next level. He also has a lovely pet called Buster whom he enjoys playing with in his free time. You can reach Nav on firstname.lastname@example.org to take your fitness and physique to the next level.