Balancing family tradition and positive food language in Latino communities

Latino family photo of four

To celebrate food positivity among diverse cultures, one should bear in mind the culturally relevant foods when talking about food with friends and family. Embracing culture diversity not only supports individualistic perspectives and shared common beliefs, but also makes space for food positivity. 

How positive food language can help with mindful eating

In our last blog on Positive Food Language for a Healthy Relationship with Food, we discussed how positive food language is a way of talking about food that reduces guilt around foods based on their perceived “health” or “junk food” content. For example, instead of labeling certain foods as “unhealthy”, reframe your thoughts so that all foods can fit in a healthy diet. Moderation is key to mindful eating. As much as diet quality is important to health, being too strict about your eating may not be healthy even if your nutritional needs are met.

Practicing mindful eating can help you enjoy the foods you eat without feeling guilty. It allows you to be fully present in the moments of eating. Mindful eating not only allows you to focus on the value of food beyond calories but also make peace with food. So, it is a good idea to reframe your food perspective from being either “good” or “bad” to enjoying your favorite foods in moderation.

Importance of Family and Food in Latin Culture

In the same way, positive food language can help bridge family tradition and cultural acceptance within the latino communities. Traditionally, food represents a strong symbolic component in latino communities. It brings connections to their roots, cultural heritage, and identity. Food brings families together in unison as eating with family is valued in the latino culture. Therefore, food brings a sense of togetherness as it cues the importance of family.

No need for food restrictions with balanced eating

Whatever your health goals are, being open to eating traditional foods with family does not hold back your health goals. A healthy lifestyle entails a balanced way of eating with every food in moderation. Therefore, you do not need to restrict foods in order to enjoy family traditions to reach your health goals. After all, we do not eat the same foods every day. Here is where positive food language in the Latino community, especially around family and friends, can come in handy.

Positive food language can help you engage in family conversations about eating traditional foods in moderation, while still being respectful.

Here are some tips for engaging in conversation with your Latino families: 

1. Un-normalize comments based on appearance. 

The Latino culture is family oriented thus shared opinions are thought to show as a way of concern. For example, giving comments based on appearance or lecturing about the amount of food you eat. Body comments oppose the idea of positive food language because this brings on shame and makes one feel targeted. Instead, talk about how delicious the food is and be present in the moment of eating; mindful eating.

2. Respect differences in food choices and preferences

Traditional foods in Latino culture are commonly passed down from past generations. It is important to Latino families that the authenticity is preserved. Thus, it can be challenging to alter the recipes to suit your own liking without being seen disrespectful. However, positive food language can restore the balance between family tradition and respecting individual food preferences. Communication and being open-minded can bring a long way in strengthening your family bond. 

Overall well-being starts with positive food language. It helps you overcome any food boundaries and makes you feel your best around food. 

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