Nutritional preferences have become very reminiscent of a cult over the past few years. It's safe to say, among certain crowds, you would not even be considered cool unless you belonged to a certain group - "Clean Eating", "All Organic", "Paleo", "Flexible Dieting", "Vegan"... just to name a few. Healthy living and the concept of “healthy eating” appear to be our new cultural fixation. We are constantly flooded with articles and advertisements with elaborate juices, recipes, and lists of super foods. All claim to be able to instill us with optimal health.
The first problem that I have with the idea of “healthy eating” is that all too often it is simply just a more socially acceptable way for people to attempt to control their weight - by manipulating their food choices. They may eat "healthy" but they also have a laundry list of other habits such as: smoking, excessive drinking, tanning, etc. Saying that they are simply trying to “eat healthy” is a way for some people to justify what may become restrictive or rigid eating habits, and could even serve to mask the development of disordered eating or eating disorders.
Saying that you are trying to "eat healthy" gives the notion that there are some foods that are "healthy" and other foods that are "unhealthy". This kind of black-and-white mentality surrounding food sets people up for disordered eating habits. For instance, you have a work function that was providing lunch for you and you decide to eat a slice of apple pie for dessert. If you have a black-and-white mindset surrounding food this perceived “failure” could lead to you “falling off the wagon” and succumbing to a binge or over-eating episode. Food is inherently neutral and you are not a “bad” or “good” person based upon the type of food that you choose to eat. We need to take the concept of morality out of our food choices as this is just another way to shame and berate ourselves for something that we shouldn’t.
Here’s the best way that I can explain it. If all that you ate were carrots, you would likely develop nutritional deficiencies over time. If you only consumed brownies, you would likely develop nutritional deficiencies over time. All foods in moderation can be part of a balanced diet and removing the “good” and “bad” label from foods can help you to heal your relationship with eating and find freedom from diet mentality.
The last issue I have with the concept of "healthy eating" is that health has so much depth and is completely person-specific. We have all seen the lists of the top 10 foods you should never eat, or the top 5 foods that lead to a better body. Those general statements are completely ridiculous. As human beings, we are completely different and unique, with different gut bacteria, histories, environments, genes, and tons of other biological and psychological variations. What may be “healthy” for one person may be “unhealthy” for another, therefore making any general statements that label a food group or specific food, as being “healthy” or “unhealthy” makes zero sense. Ultimately, I don't care how many alkalizing foods you have in your refrigerator, how many 'green juices' you mix up, fermented foods you consume, or how much intermittent fasting you do if the thought of having dessert gives you anxiety. That is not mentally healthy.