The answer? Neither!
During my presentation about creating balanced meals, I was asked “why do you keep mentioning bread, isn’t it bad for you?”, which made me realise how foods still have this label as either being bad for you or good for you.
I replied: “Bread is certainly not bad for you (unless you’re celiac and need gluten-free). It’s an excellent source of carbohydrates which provides the body with energy, it contains protein, B vitamins, and iron and opting for wholemeal sources will contribute to your daily fibre intake as well as being a convenient option when making a meal e.g. sandwich, beans or scrambled eggs on toast”.
Yes, some foods are more nutrient-dense (greater range of vitamins and minerals) than others i.e. an apple is going to have greater amounts of nutrients than a chocolate bar. But the context in this regard is so important. Some days the apple is what we want and fits our targets and other days it’s the chocolate bar, but that doesn’t mean one of them is worse than the other.
Although we do want to ensure we are including a range of nutrients day to day, to both ensure our body is working optimally and to optimise our performance be it in the gym or day-to-day. But if chocolate is something you want to incorporate you can certainly make room for it without compromising your goals.
Depending on your goals it may be more difficult to include these in your diet i.e. if you’re in a calorie deficit and want to ensure you’re hitting your macro and micronutrient target. But again, it comes back to planning and if one day for example you sacrifice a protein shake for a snack bar to satisfy you, then so be it, it’s not going to have a huge impact on your progress!
So, if some food is good and some is bad that means we associate guilt with the bad foods. When we should never feel guilty for eating anything, as it is in no way helpful and may leave us feeling upset or annoyed. And this is what the industry wants to do, make money off people’s emotions associated with food and why they’ve created words like “bad” or “cheat meals”. Therefore, prioritise what is important to you – and if it’s including your fav food into your diet by making swaps/trades then that is the right choice for you!