Word choice and food choice - the power of language

Word choice and food choice - the power of language

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Can a food actually be 'bad'? Or 'good'? Or 'naughty'?

Yes, there are some foods that are more healthful than others, some that are best to be avoided, and some that have some very positive effects on health.

Something I have been noticing recently with many of my clients is the use of negative terms in relation to their behaviours around food, or to foods themselves. For example, 'I was really naughty today because I ate chocolate' or 'I have eaten so much bad food recently' or 'I have been so good this week... but then I was naughty and went out for dinner'.

What do these sentences all have in common? Overtly positive or negative connotations in relation to foods, and food choice. Try saying those sentences to yourself. How does that make you feel? Guilty? Unsuccessful? Anything else? What about if you changed some of the words in the sentences. For example, 'I really enjoyed the chocolate I ate today', 'I haven't been making as many healthy choices recently', 'I really enjoyed my dinner out this week, especially as I know I made so many other healthy choices during the week'. And how do you feel after saying these sentences? Satisfied? Acknowledging where you can improve?

Essentially, each sentence is saying the same thing...just in a different way. But the psychological difference is really positive, and much better health outcomes can be found from re-phrasing some common sentences many of us use.

Furthermore, humans always seem to want what is off bounds... if something is 'bad', for some reason many of us want it more. Re-phrasing our sentences can have a significant impact on what foods we choose, when and why we choose them.

I understand it does sound a bit wishy washy! But give it a go- you may be pleasantly surprised the difference your word choice can make on your food choice!

Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases.
Contact us if you’d like our help in managing diet-related health issues.


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