There is no such thing as bad food

We hear it all the time this food is ‘bad’, that food is ‘good’. Carbs are bad, vegetables are good, fat is bad, fat is good, high protein diet is bad, we need more protein, pop is bad, etc, etc, etc.

I’m here to tell you that food isn’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Food is just food. Food can be appropriate, or inappropriate, that is all.

I used to be really against pop and Cola. I read all kinds of stuff showing without exception, that pop and Cola’s were responsible for all manner of problems, and only good for scrubbing blood off the highway, or cleaning the chrome on bumpers.

During my first Ironman triathlon I learned that Cola was brilliant. What??? Yup, you read that right, Cola is brilliant. More to the fact Cola, in the middle of a long endurance race, is appropriate. You see, Cola has several ingredients that can be very powerful for a long distance athlete. The caffeine delays muscle pain, and increases metabolism. Cola is full of sugar, the fast digesting kind, and perfect for the second half of the marathon leg of an Ironman. Cola also is loaded with acid that closely matches stomach acid – so for a stomach that has basically quit and stopped working due to heat, stress and fatigue, Cola can kick start digestion again and get key nutrients going in a very tired athlete, during hour 10, 11 or 12 and beyond. That said, drinking Cola all day, and sitting on the couch, will make you fat, and give you all kinds of health problems. In that case it’s inappropriate.

People come to me all the time and tell me that they have pulled fruit out of their diet, because it is bad. ‘Too much sugar’, they say. Once again, fruit is not bad, not even close, but it can be inappropriate. If you were to eat 15 or 20 servings of fruit all day, or especially at night, and then just sit around doing nothing, the problem is not that fruit is good or bad, rather, it is that you are sitting around, and having too much of it. Same goes for fruit juice, it’s too much of a good thing, and therefore inappropriate.

How much simple sugar is in a regular can of Cola? Forty milligrams. How much simple sugar is in a medium glass of apple juice? Thirty-nine grams. Pretty much the same. So is apple juice bad? No, but for the most part, it is inappropriate. Here’s the thing, one entire apple has about 15-18 grams of sugar in it. So drinking a glass of apple juice is like ‘drinking’ the sugar from three apples. Most people wouldn’t sit and eat six apples in a few seconds, and yet many people drink two glasses of juice without even thinking. Plus the apple itself has fibre and all sorts of other ingredients that slow down the digestion of the sugar, allowing it to happen naturally and reducing the impact of the sugar in your body. Apple juice doesn’t have that benefit, it’s a fast hit of sugar, without the benefit of the apple itself. You can water your juice down 50% or more with water, it will still taste great, and will be a more appropriate amount of sugar for most people. A small glass of juice, drank along with a good healthy meal is appropriate.

A popular thing to say for weight loss is no carbs after supper. Some diets even proclaim ‘No carbs after 4 p.m.’ (or 5 p.m., or 6 p.m. or whatever). Not true. Sort of. If you have a sedentary job, come home, eat a big supper, and then sit on the couch until bedtime, then yes, starchy carbohydrates (breads, pasta, cereal, cakes, cookies, etc.) will cause you to make and store fat in excessive amounts. It’s like putting gas in your car every night, but never driving anywhere. What if you come home from work, have a good supper, then go play hockey, or curl, or swim, or dance, or take karate lessons? Then carbohydrates are appropriate for your effective refuelling and recovery. If it is your birthday, and you eat cake that’s appropriate. (Pretty much everything is appropriate once in a while.).

I read an article a few weeks ago about a bunch of people from Montreal suing tobacco companies because they smoked (and many are still smoking), and it’s bad for them. Good grief! Smoking is an inappropriate choice for anyone who cares about their health, and blaming the tobacco companies for the decision just doesn’t make sense. If these people don’t know by now that cigarettes come with dire consequences, then they aren’t listening, looking or thinking. Same goes for blaming fast food restaurants for a big tummy or health issues related to low quality food. It doesn’t make sense either, because we all know that a steady diet of fast food and cigarettes is not appropriate, but we have a choice. If we choose to eat junk and fill our lungs with smoke – then we must accept the consequences. Make an inappropriate choice, and you will get the logical result.

Make healthy choices, and live life to the fullest — (or not, it’s up to you.).

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake. He can be reached at 403-887-7667 or check out www.personaltrainersylvanlake.com for more information.