Have you ever felt guilty or ashamed when consuming certain foods? Do you usually perceive food as healthy or unhealthy? These feelings towards food can be eliminated using positive food language.
What is “Positive Food Language”?It is a way of talking about food that reduces shame or guilt around foods based on their perceived “health” or “junk food” content. Positive food language reduces categorizing foods into good/bad or healthy/unhealthy and instead focuses on the food and its flavors or reason for the food. This can sound like: “I’m excited to go to my friend’s birthday party and enjoy some cake.” There is no categorizing the cake as “good” or “bad”, and there’s no shame or guilt following the statement. Instead, it focuses on the excitement of the celebration and the food that will be enjoyed.
Why is it important to use Positive Food Language?It can help you feel better about your food choices and will encourage you to have a healthy relationship with food without promoting restrictions of any kind. As mentioned in our last blog, “Eating Healthy During the Holidays: A Holistic Approach”, food has a strong connection to emotion. So, shifting towards a more positive language will help you develop self-compassion when making food choices. If you label or categorize foods as good or bad, it will usually lead to a cycle of restriction and bingeing, and ultimately guilt, shame, and a feeling of having no control over your food choices. By allowing all foods to fit and improving your food language, you can develop and sustain a healthy relationship with food.
How can you start using Positive Food Language?It is very simple! You can begin with reframing our your thoughts on food. Words that highlight positive aspects of food, like “satisfying” or “energizing” can be a good place to start. Part of this shift in language is truly believing all foods fit and nothing is off limits. You can incorporate foods that you previously considered “bad” and use positive food language to describe them in a different way. For example, if ice cream is not allowed in your house because you’ve been told it’s a bad food and you feel you can’t control yourself around it, bring a small pint into your home and allow yourself to eat it and however much you want. You can use language like, “I am glad to have this ice cream in my house on a hot day. It really helps me cool down.” Here are other ways to promote positive food language:
- Not separating foods into “healthy” or “unhealthy” categories
- Not commenting on other peoples’ food choices (either positively or negatively)
- Using words like “nourishing” or “satisfying” to describe foods
- Allowing yourself to enjoy a variety of foods to promote overall wellness
- Discussing exercise in a way that promotes health, and not for the reason to be “allowed to eat more”.