Why our language around food matters

Ever thought about the impact that our language around food has, on our mood? Well we’re here to share why why our language around food matters.

Distilling foods down to either “good” or “bad” is such an incredibly over simplistic and harmful way to view of food. Period. Sure ALL foods have different nutrient profiles but that doesn’t make them morally different, it just makes them different. Often what happens when we label foods like this is we start to change our eating (and other) behaviours. We remove, change or restrict the “bad” and keep in the “good” and that’s why our language around food matters.

But what else happens?

Biologically speaking, when we “cut out bad foods”, our body experiences this as a form of starvation. This comes from our hunter gatherer days.

The cells in our body don’t know we are voluntarily restricting our food intake, so it shifts a gear and turns on survival mode. Our metabolism slows down (because it doesn’t know when it’s going to be fed again) and food cravings dial right up.

At this stage all our body knows to do is to search for food because it is missing. This, is your body’s natural response to cutting out food. We produce a hormone called Neuropeptide Y encouraging our bodies to search for and fixate on carbohydrate foods (sugars).

So cutting foods out only has us wanting them more and more.

Psychologically speaking, it perpetuates our emotional eating response.

For example, if we label a food as “bad” then by eating that food we start feeling that we are in fact “being bad”. The morality we place on the food starts being placed on ourselves. This cascades into feelings on guilt and shame around food and our bodies. It’s incredibly unhelpful.

There’s a pretty wild stat that tells us the average woman will feel guilty about food at least 5 times per week for 20 minutes on average.

It can leave us feeling pretty shitehouse. Often leading to further restriction, binging behaviours and the cycle may continue.

So, what can we do to shift this?

Here are 5 simple questions and we ask ourselves when we notice this polar thinking coming up:

  1. What is this food giving me beyond the nutrients it provides? Joy? Comfort? Socialisation?
  2. How will cutting this food out of my diet make me feel?
  3. Will I still want this food if I cut it out?
  4. What is the effort to only include the “good” options eg: time to prepare, money it costs to make, lack of taste?
  5. Food is not moral, all foods can form a part of a healthy diet. Are there other ways I can describe these foods? Tasty, nourishing, gives me energy, brings me joy, removes my brain fog etc.


If you found this blog about why our language around food matters, you might also find one of our latest blogs ‘3 ways to remove guilt from eating takeout’.

AND if you’d like some more in depth support using food to boost your mood, you can download the WIRL App on the Apple App store for free for a limited time!

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