As I posted my pics for the #10DayCookChallenge (thank you to everyone who participated, by the way!), I began to take note of the comments suggesting foods I could have/should have used, i.e. brown rice instead of white rice. And it got me thinking.

Should any food really be demonized?

Yes, there are always nutritional choices to be made based on our own individual bodies and beliefs about how the world works. But after spending almost 40 years on one diet or another, and being constantly inundated with new information about nutrition, I decided it was time to take a step back and reassess the situation.

It feels like there are a lot of voices making a lot of noise about what we should and shouldn’t eat. Maybe it’s because we have so many options for getting our food, like grocery stores, on-line retailers, co-ops and farmer’s markets. Is the abundance of choices and food a luxury, curse or both? Can you imagine someone homesteading on the frontier, foraging to have enough food to make it through the winter, arguing about brown rice, white rice, cauliflower or quinoa?

I think we all finally understand that calories are not created equal. 100 calories of cookies are not the same as 100 calories of vegetables, right? But I’m beginning to embrace the idea that there must be balance for the long-term sustainability of a clean-eating plan. In our carb-phobic society, it seems that eating any kind of grain, including brown rice, is like committing diet treason. Everyone knows you should eat cauliflower rice instead, right?! Not necessarily. I personally hesitate to dismiss the nutritional value of brown rice just because it’s out of “culinary fashion”.

But honestly, I’m not here to argue the nutritional superiority of one food over another. My point is to advocate sanity and balance. Will having a little bit of rice at dinner help you avoid the cookies two hours later? Does including a sweet potato or other sweet taste in the meal keep you from digging into the ice cream at 10pm? Or maybe cutting carbs and upping fat content counteracts your food cravings. Whatever it is, I think we need to give ourselves permission to do what is best for our bodies.

The next evolution in my health journey will be figuring out my perfect balance. I do; however, embrace one constant. Vegetables should be front and center of any meal. What goes with the vegetables is what’s up for discussion.

For now, let’s stop demonizing food and think of our choices as just that—choices to be adapted and modified to our personal needs and preferences.

What’s your idea of the perfect balance? Let us know in the comments below!