The Morality of Food Language

“Ohhh I’m being so bad by having this cookie. I’ll have a guilt-free day tomorrow and only eat clean foods to make up for it though.”

Diet talk is all around us. As much as I would sometimes like to hide my clients away in a bubble to shield them from it, the truth is that a certain amount of it is inescapable. Statements like those above seem to be the norm. In fact, I guarantee those exact words have slipped out of my own mouth in the past—many, many times. I tend to notice morality being placed on food especially when the holidays are approaching. Just watch any morning national news segment and I bet you will notice the trend yourself in the upcoming weeks.

Tune in for 3 guilt-free recipes for the holidays ahead!

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Next, we will talk about the 5 most criminal mistakes you make while eating during the season.

When exactly did the foods we eat become a question of morality?

The morality of food language

The more I have picked apart diet culture in my Intuitive Eating (IE) practice, the more I have grown to notice the language that we use regarding food. It’s not always as obvious as words such as “good” or “bad” either. Our society is actually quite insidious in how it uses its verbiage with foods. Take a slice of chocolate cake, for example. You might hear it being described as “sinful” or “devilish”—insinuating that it’s somehow forbidden from our plates. In reality, cake is just cake. It doesn’t make you lesser of a person for eating it, just like it doesn’t make you somehow better of a person for not eating it.

Food is neutral
via Robyn Nohling–The Real Life RD

“Clean” eating is another example of our dichotomous way of thinking about foods. (I could probably write several blog posts about my thoughts on “clean” eating!) While the phrase may appear innocent, what is it implying about the way you eat if you veer from that plan? Does that mean you’re eating “dirty”? While people will defend “clean” eating by telling you “it’s not a diet—it’s a lifestyle”, there is still an element of restriction that leaves you feeling guilty when you don’t follow through perfectly.

A phrase that has stuck out to me the last year is from one of my favorite dietitian bloggers, Kylie Mitchell. She said: “the only time you should feel guilty about eating food is if you stole it.” And how true is that?! You need not feel a sense of guilt for ever eating “dirty, fake, sinful” foods.

As the holidays approach and are then followed by talk of New Year’s resolutions, I challenge you to think about how you and the people around you talk about the food consumed. Do you feel guilty for eating your favorite Christmas cookies that grandma baked for you? Do people you spend time with give a moral spin to foods? Bringing awareness to our thoughts and language around food is often one of the first strides we can take towards healing our relationships with food and looking at it in a more neutral light.

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P.S. I know I keep tossing around the term “Intuitive Eating” as if I expect y’all to know what this all entails. haha! I promise I will be posting about the details of this soon. I am currently re-reading the book in its entirety so that I bring you the most helpful information. (aka. I have a LOT of highlighted sections in my Kindle!!)  

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