Labeling Food? How I Learned to Look at Food Neutrally {Food Neutrality}

Today, I had lunch with an incredible friend of mine. We were sharing how, when we were much more rigid with food and had much more black and white thinking, we experienced a lower quality of life.

A sandwich and salad are neutral to me. They look different and have different contents but they both give my body fuel. :) And, taste DELISH!

A sandwich and salad are neutral to me. They look different and have different contents but they both give my body fuel. :) And, taste DELISH!

We both relied on food labels to define what we could and couldn’t eat. Vegan, gluten-free, paleo, low-carb, low-fat etc. The labels seem to go on and on and ever increasing with time. However, now that we view food as neutral, it is so much more enjoyable. And isn’t that how it is SUPPOSED to be?

Our culture can feed us so many lies and fear-mongering words telling us to be fearful of the food we put in our bodies…almost to the point of feeling like we are poisoning ourselves if we do! But that is not living from a place of freedom, true identity, or truth. That is living from fear and bondage.

If you feel like you are living in that place of fear and bondage and you feel chained to food labels, know that you can shift your viewpoint. I never thought I could (or would want to) but here I am!

How do you do this?

1) Implement grace, compassion, and mercy toward yourself and others. These characteristics are ones that are life-giving. When you follow a rigid diet or regime, do you notice these characteristics in abundance? Nope. You see, diets steal more from us than just food.

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2) Question your thoughts. Remember they are not truth. Are you telling yourself that you cannot eat something or that you are bad for eating something or good for eating something? Question that. Does food really determine your morality? (Hint: No). Do your friends really love you because of your body that you believe you need to uphold and that you believe you have to eat a certain way and workout a certain way to uphold? (Hint: No). Start to question those thoughts you feel when you look at a restaurant menu or at the grocery store or in your kitchen. What if you ignored the negative self-talk and judgement?

3) Tell yourself truth. AKA your body does not define you. Your food does not define you. There is no good or bad food. When my friend and I were talking, she reminded me of this verse in 1 Timothy 4:4. It says, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer”.

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The Bible literally says that everything God created is good. So, every food God created is good. Think about it. If a starving child were to come to you and all you had to offer was something that diet culture deemed as “bad”. Would you withhold that food from him? No. You see, food is food. It does not hold the power to determine your morality. It fuels your body. Furthermore, it is meant to be enjoyed with thanksgiving as the Bible says. The food we have the ability to consume is a blessing. What if you shifted your focus to that? That the food, no matter what label it may fall under, is a blessing. You can be grateful because you have the ability to eat.

Furthermore, becoming obsessed with following a certain eating diet or label causes negative effects in our bodies such as stress, anxiety, and poor digestion.

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer”.

So, this week (and from now on), I challenge you to embark on the incredible journey toward neutrality with food. I am happy to report that this journey has made me enjoy food more fully and feel normal around it. I’m not ravenously chowing down on my “last supper” kind of dessert or savoring every last bite of a meal that I won’t allow myself to eat again. No!! Instead, if a cookie sounds yummy, I’ll eat it. If a salad sounds nice, I’ll eat it. Both choices are neutral.

However, know that I have not always understood this idea. I remember asking The Real Life RD about this when I saw her and other blogs using almond flour etc. To me, those were “healthy” foods and I was confused as to why a non-diet person was using them. However, she encouraged me that, through much work and time, she had come to a place where almond flour and white all-purpose flour are neutral. One is not better than the other. The only difference is the flavor. I remember feeling so spellbound by this idea. How?? I thought. How could it be neutral. However, I am here to tell you that it is possible. Give yourself time, patience, and grace. Remember that no food is bad and no food is good. Remember that your body can handle everything and anything from a veggie and protein filled sandwich to a warm brownie with ice cream on top. Thankfully, the body isn’t bias. ;)

Comment below if you are starting this journey or what your experience is with food neutrality!