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Exploring the Words We Use to Describe Food and Eating Choices



“This dessert is sinfully delicious”

“You’re so good, ordering a salad”

“I was bad yesterday and ate fries”


These types of phrases around food are so common that you may not even notice how odd it is that we use moral words (such as “good” or “bad”) to describe our eating choices. Diet culture has made us think of food in a dichotomous way. We are not good or bad people for eating certain foods. So why do we use words like these to describe what we eat?


Often what people mean is that certain foods are more nutritious than others, which then makes some “good” and some “bad.” But no one food is good or bad for us. Carrots are often thought of as a good, nutritious food. However, eating nothing but carrots would not be healthy or nutritious.


Some foods may be higher in certain nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, and a healthy diet should include plenty of these- things like fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and more.


But a healthy diet should also include a wide variety of all types of foods. Food fuels our body, but it is also meant to be enjoyed and shared. This means having french fries when you crave them, or going out for ice cream with your kids, or enjoying your mom’s famous pecan pie.


By eating a wide variety of foods, some that are healthy and some that are fun, we are making sure that we are taking care of our bodies and also enjoying the pleasures of eating. No one food is good or bad, and all can fit as part of a healthy diet.


Food and feeding ourselves is not black and white so it is time to start thinking in color!


Author: Becca Sprague, MS, RD, LD