Neutralizing Food Talk: How to Develop a Better Relationship with Food

by | May 8, 2019 | Last updated Feb 15, 2022

Author: Katie Horrell, MS, RDN, CPT

When it comes to labeling foods, there are two types of ways we can label foods: objectively and subjectively.  Objective food labeling may sound something like: “This food is a nutrient dense food, protein, carbohydrate, or a fat”.  This describes a food nutritionally, without any added emotional context. Subjective food labeling on the other hand, sounds something like:  “This is a good food, bad food, cheat food”, which adds emotional context to the foods we consume. The downside to using subjective food labeling is that it can lead to guilt, restriction, and over-eating.

Labeling food comes naturally from our social environment. Most people, like our parents and friends, don’t *maliciously* spout off these negative food labels as a way to make us feel bad. We learn from our environment, so typically these labels come from others we spend our time with! Since we now know where this roots from – let’s talk about how to work on it!

Tip #1 – Be mindful of when these labels pop up.

  • What’s happening around you? What triggers this language? What environment are you in? Are you: at home, out at a restaurant, at a friend’s home?

Tip #2 – Let go of any judgements around your label. You’re human, I promise! It’s okay. Don’t judge your natural inclination to judge!

Tip #3- Replace the label with an objective, or neutral label.

  • YES: sometimes foods, play foods, special occasion foods
  • NO: cheat meals, cheat foods, cheating, bad food, good food
  • YES: I am craving this food, because I truly want it. So I will allow myself to enjoy it!
  • NO: I’m craving this food, so I must be terrible and bad.
  • YES: I didn’t listen to my hunger cues this weekend, but today is a new day, so I will start fresh and keep moving forward!
  • NO: I overate this weekend, I totally screwed up!! I might as well just quit now.

See the differences?

It’s *normal* to have these mixed messages in our minds about different foods. But remember, we are not good or bad because of what we eat. At Noom, we believe all foods fit, and encourage a variety of food! Whether it’s a cupcake or an apple, enjoy it mindfully!