I’m not talking about foul language here – although there have been studies showing swearing can have bot negative and positive effects on our brains. I’m talking about two simple words: Good and Bad.
How can these two common words have an effect on our health? Labelling foods as good/bad, healthy/not healthy, clean/dirty(?), etc. can harm our relationship with food and/or our body. How do you feel after you eat something you labelled as bad? Probably like you failed, and therefore, you are bad as well, leading to feelings of guilt, which will lead to guilt, more restriction, … and the dieting cycle continues.
Although creating a healthy relationship doesn’t seem like a big deal, especially if you’re focused on weight loss, changing your language (or anything you do to improve said relationship) can actually improve your health! We’re seeing that an intuitive eating approach – one that focuses on listening to your body and finding pleasure in what you do – has been shown to improve cardiovascular status, eating behaviors, quality of life, motivation to exercise, and psychological well-being. Aren’t these the outcomes you’re trying to get with weight loss? So why not get there with a much gentler and easier approach, without the risks of dieting?
How to improve your relationship with food
Okay, you might tell me, but aren’t chips bad? Or pizza, burgers, candy, or any other traditionally unhealthy food? My question to you is, what makes a food bad? If you haven’t had anything to eat all day and all is available is pizza, is that bad? Or if you’re really in the mood for pizza and enjoy it, is that bad? (Can you tell that pizza is my favorite food?)
I can already guess your answer: “bad foods lead to weight gain”. I’ll have to leave this for another time, as this is a question of body image and relationship with our body. But briefly, if you need to restrict to stay at a certain weight, that’s probably not the weight you’re supposed to be at.
Sure some foods are higher in calories, but we need energy (calories is simply a measure of energy)! Sure some foods contain more nutrients, but do you really think everything you eat will be perfect (if it is, we have another set of issues here…)?
So next time you find yourself labeling foods, ask yourself why you’re labeling it this way and try to find a more neutral word… like food for example.
What are some of the more neutral or positive words you use to describe food?