Food is something people talk about…a lot! Especially while in recovery and/or trying to improve your relationship with food, you’ll likely be on hyper alert about food and diet talk. I know for me it was a bit awkward in early recovery to talk about food because as I was trying to unlearn diet culture messages and redefine my relationship with eating, I realized a lot of the ways we talk about food is actually strongly influenced by diet culture. It’s important to be able to talk about food without triggering ourselves/others and without demonizing or glorifying it. Here are five phrases to stop saying as well as what to swap them out for:
Instead of: “[Insert food] is so bad/good/healthy/unhealthy/etc.”
Say: “[Insert food] is delicious/spicy/flavorful/yummy.”
Food doesn’t have ANY moral value. Did your cookie steal something? Did your banana save a life? No, so we shouldn’t assign morality to our food. Instead, talk about if you like it or how it tastes to be both more mindful as well as not label your food in a potentially harmful way.
Instead of: “I worked out today so I can eat [insert food].”
Say: “I give myself permission to eat all foods, regardless of what movement I’ve done. [Insert food] would really hit the spot!”
What we say can definitely affect how we think, so saying that you have to burn calories or move more for certain foods will only perpetuate that mindset. Plus, we usually don’t have to justify other wants in our lives. Does Amazon make you fill out a form about why you want/need something? Do you have to tell someone why you want to go to the bathroom or brush your teeth in the morning? Exactly- food is something we literally need to survive and are allowed (and supposed to) enjoy! You don’t have to justify eating with exercise.
Instead of: “I’m finally going to start eating healthy.”
Say: “I’m going to start incorporating more foods into my diet that make me feel good, not less.”
Feeling good and nourishing your body should mean eating more types of food, not less!
Instead of: “I ate so badly this weekend.”
Say: “I had a wonderful time this weekend and ate how I wanted to. I don’t need to compensate by eating or moving differently today.”
Food isn’t just fuel- it can be moments of fun with friends, part of your culture, a source of good memories or comfort, a new experience, a creative expression- and so much more. We shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed of any of these things! You didn’t eat “bad,” you ate how you wanted to in the moment- and that’s okay! You don’t have to make up excuses or try and compensate. It’s important to shift our perspective, acknowledge our own struggles with diet culture/fatphobia, and speak kindly to ourselves.
Instead of: “Cheat day!”
Say: “I’m hungry and am going to honor what my body wants.”
If you’re eating how you want to, you shouldn’t feel like you need to have or are having a “cheat day.” This phrase is really common to hear among those on diets or in the fitness community, but it only perpetuates the idea of “good” and “bad” foods and defeats the argument that dieting is healthy and balanced. If it was so worth it and good for you, why would you have to “cheat?”
I hope these swaps were a little food for thought (too cheesy?). All of these swaps will hopefully help in your journey to improving your relationship with food and your body by adding more body trusting and food neutral phases into your daily dialogue. Remember to not just say these things, but to also flip the dialogue in your mind, too!
P.S. Be on the lookout for a body talk version of this post- coming soon.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels.
All content on RecovRoad is based on personal experiences, research, and ideas. Please do not repost/share without credit and be aware that nothing on this blog takes the place of professional help. This is also a formal trigger warning: content about and relating to eating disorders may be triggering to survivors. Please see the “RESOURCES” tab, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 800-931-2237, and remember to take care of yourself.