Today I was having an interesting conversation with a colleague that made me rethink food language. Food language is something I often think about. I believe that creating positive and supportive food cultures in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities is the solution to people (including kids) eating more veggies. Language is a major part of that positive food culture. The language that we all use in our own minds and the language we use when speaking to our family, friends or students.
Now I’m going to be honest and say, I don’t know the answers to the questions I ask here. Food is complicated. So how about we think about this one together?
Most dietitians, nutritionists and psychologists would now agree that food is morally neutral; labeling food as “good” or “bad” is detrimental to one’s health. When people choose food deemed to be “bad” they feel “bad” and this often leads them into a vicious circle of then eating even more of the perceived ‘bad’ food and enjoying it less. This in turn affects both our physical and mental health. Plus, food we enjoy shouldn’t make us feel bad. Food should be enjoyed!
So we shift from using good and bad and start to use language like “healthy” and “unhealthy”, “better choices” and whilst this language is an improvement, it still borders on judgmental. Plus how do we decide how to classify the food?
I personally now tend to call food by how often or when we should be eating them; ‘everyday’ and ‘sometimes’ foods, ‘occasional’ or ‘party’ food. But the word ‘should’ doesn’t sit right with me. Although this is my preferred language, I started to think….could there be another way?
Would it be possible to remove the labels altogether? Would it be possible to call food, just food? An apple is an apple and chocolate is chocolate? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snacks. Fruit, vegetables, pasta, bread, meat and rice.
So I’m going to try it! First for one week and then for one month. Too see if I can call food by it’s names only. To my kids, in my work classes, in my Facebook posts and in my blogs.
Because ultimately it’s #JustFood