Researchers from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands have found that thinking in black and white terms when it comes to food, (i.e thinking as food as either good or bad) can partly explain why attempts to control food intake are associated with more weight gain.
People who follow this ‘all or nothing’ approach are less likely to stick to their diet and are more likely to regain weight in the long run.
Most people take one of two approaches when it comes to dieting:
- the rigid approach
A strict, rule-based diet. If these rules are violated then dieters are more likely to fall back on to the ‘all or nothing’ mentality.
- the flexible approach
The flexible approach applies common sense to nutrition and allows for “ treats” once in awhile, without falling off the health wagon.
The authors of the study conclude that this simplistic way of classifying food into “good” and “bad” may have a negative impact on efforts to maintain a healthy weight. A more flexible approach to diet, allowing for fatty or sweet foods every now and then, without viewing them as “bad”, could be a better way tackle healthy eating.
A recent report by Waitrose Food also found that consumers have little trust in official healthy eating advice and instead use their own judgement when it comes to what is and isn’t healthy. This could be a backlash to the overwhelming amount of advice given by health experts which is often conflicting and confusing.
When it comes to your health, the facts aren’t black and white. By thinking in terms of a balanced diet, and not in terms of strict restrictions, we are more likely to succeed in achieving nutritional goals. The same approach applies to salt consumption. Salt is an essential mineral of life with health benefits which mean it should not be simply categorised as ‘bad.’ Every cell of our bodies requires it to survive and its consumption should be based on individuals and their health.