Think about the language you use, both when talking about yourself and when speaking to others.
If you say to a group of friends something like – ‘I’m always late’, you are giving your friends the permission to describe you in that way - you will always be known as the ‘late one’.
Think about your language toward your lifestyle habits too. We can find it more difficult to take a balanced and compassionate approach towards our diet and lifestyle due to the language that constantly surrounds it.
- What you say to someone when they have lost weight
- What you say to someone when they go back for seconds
- The way you describe healthy food
- The way you describe unhealthy food
- The way you give others advice about their lifestyle
No one likes being told what to do, what to eat or how to live. Although this may attract the ‘you can’t say anything these days’ response - you never know what someone is going through. Sometimes an innocent comment can result in the receiver having feelings of shame, punishment or pressure.
The same goes for self talk! I’m sure we’ve all been guilty (me included) of saying something like …‘I was really bad at the weekend’ in relation to our diet and lifestyle choices.
Have you been ‘bad’? Or have you been out, socialising and seeing friends therefore had a good weekend?
Other questionable commonly used phrases to be mindful of…
Referring to food as naughty makes you feel bad before you have even started eating it! There are no good or bad foods – food should not be associated with guilt or shame but enjoyed in the moment. While I wholly encourage a healthy lifestyle – life happens! Lifestyle factors and celebrations should always be considered!
‘I’m going to be really good all week so I can enjoy cheat night at the weekend’
It doesn’t have to be a Saturday night for you to enjoy a pizza, nor does it have to be Monday when you start back at the gym. Once we take a more balanced, intuitive approach to our diet and lifestyle, we will begin to normalise food and enjoy it for what it is, rather than seeing it as a particular ‘macro’/number.
‘Gosh, you must have been hungry?!’
This phrase can be triggering for someone who may be putting pressure on themselves to eat in a certain way, or someone who is struggling with their relationship with food.
Try to refrain from commenting on what and how other people choose to eat.
‘You’ve lost so much weight, you look amazing – how did you do it?’
This is a tricky one, of course you want to celebrate a friend’s ‘success’ if they have been working toward reaching their goals and feeling healthier and happier. However, we don’t necessarily know what this friend is going through. This language could cause ongoing pressure to continue to lose weight and create the idea that this person is more valued now that they have lost weight.
How about saying something like ‘Wow, you look great, as always! Are you feeling good?’
This can down value the importance of rest and promote the idea that it is not necessary; that we are more hard working if we just ‘power through’. Regular rest will make us more productive. Rest isn’t a reward – it’s a necessity when working toward a healthy balanced lifestyle.
‘No pain, no gain’ (with reference to exercise)
Implying we need to put ourselves in physical pain for an aesthetic gain…!
Find an exercise that you enjoy and do it as often as it feels right for you. This way, you feel the benefit both physically and mentally and it is more maintainable too!
‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’
Sleep is the pillar on which all other lifestyle factors sit. When we sleep well, we are more likely to ‘eat well’, we feel less stressed and we have more motivation to exercise. Without it, we are unable to perform at our best.
‘I can’t come tonight, sorry to be so boring!’
Are you being boring, or strong for saying no when it’s something you struggle with?
Are you being boring, or realistic because you have a busy week?
Are you being boring, or prioritising yourself rather than prioritising others?
Being mindful of the language you use surrounding diet and lifestyle choices and working to take a more compassionate approach could help you to step away from the pressure of how you ‘should’ be living your life and consider what is best for you in the present moment. It could also prevent potential feelings of guilt and judgement and encourage intuitive living and self acceptance.
Mind your language. Consider the impact it may have on yourself and the people around you.