The Red Line and “Good” and “Bad” Foods

In my last post I discussed “the red line chart” which sorts foods in accordance with their calorie density (calories per pound). Foods more to the left have been shown to be have more satiety so that people can eat more without taking in excess calories.

The chart has a red line, and it is recommended to try to focus on eating foods to the left of it. Chef AJ, who created the chart, explains in her book that she is a recovered food addict. For people with food addictions, certain foods like sugary treats can be binge-triggering foods that can have a similar effect to nicotine or alcohol, or drugs to people with addictions to those substances. People in twelve step programs commit to abstain from their addictions. But those in Overeaters Anonymous know that food addiction is tricky because you can’t abstain from eating. It is up to the individual to come up with a precise definition of what they are abstaining from. You can’t eat trigger foods in moderation. You have to abstain from them. For Chej AJ, and for others with food addiction, foods to the right of the red line can serve as the definition of foods to abstain from. This is what I had in mind when I wrote the last post.

But a valid concern was raised in a comment that this chart could be interpreted as a list of “good” and “bad” foods, which for other people can lead to disordered eating. If that might be you, please do not interpret the chart that way. Foods more to the left are just those that are healthier and can be eaten more liberally, while those to the right should be eaten more in moderation.

I personally don’t believe in good or bad foods. There are some, like fruits and veggies, which are healthy and recommended by pretty much all experts, which I try to eat more often. Others, like overly processed foods (candy, cookies, etc.), fall more in the “eat in moderation” category, which is what I strive for. Since I’m fortunate enough not to actually have a food addiction, I can get away with viewing it that way. But even for me, the problem with moderation is, as I mentioned in the last post, it can be a slippery slope, because it is “uncalibrated”, unless I actually keep a log of how many “special treats” I’m allowing myself. Next thing I know I get my bloodwork done and my triglycerides have crept back up. So the red line chart for me to helps to tighten up on this.

3 thoughts on “The Red Line and “Good” and “Bad” Foods

  1. Thank you for these posts. The problem is that we now live in a country where over 70% of the population is overweight and over 40% are obese. The CDC predicts that in a few years we will reach an obesity weight of 50%. So who are these people who CAN moderate the use of calorically dense foods that lack both fiber and water and are nutrient poor and NOT be overweight or have a lifestyle related disease? Processed food was designed to be addictive. We were not designed to eat refined foods and our gut microbiome struggles with these food like substances. As Jack La Lanne said “If God made it, eat it. If man made it, don’t eat it. All the foods in green to the left of the red line came FROM A PLANT. All the foods in red to the right of the red line were MANUFACTURED IN A PLANT.

    Love & Kale,
    Chef AJ

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the Clarification AJ, on this and the previous post. I am currently reading the Pleasure Trap which is covered in detail in your book (which I should have mentioned, sorry). It is fascinating, and has a lot to say about the danger of “moderation” thinking. I will post on it soon. I did mention that for me, moderation can be a “slippery slope”. I like the Jack La Lanne quote, that’s cool. 🙂


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