Experts say we all need to avoid using the terms 'good' and 'bad' about food 5 months ago

Experts say we all need to avoid using the terms 'good' and 'bad' about food

It makes sense.

We live in a society where we are bombarded with ridiculous beauty standards at all times.

We know social media – and media in general – play a large part in how people – including children – feel about their bodies, but did you know that their perception is also heavily influenced by other external factors—including their own parents?

It's true.

In fact, according to experts, parents may be passing down body image issues unintentionally, with a simple turn of phrase.

Speaking to PureWow, Dr. Helen Egger, child psychiatrist and co-founder of children’s mental health app Little Otter, explains the one thing she often finds herself begging parents to stop using around their children.

The phrase: “I’ve been so good today.” (Specifically, in regards to food.)

What you eat does not dictate your self-worth

Do you use this phrase yourself? I know I have – most of the time not even thinking about it. Maybe I have made a green juice for breakfast – which I do not because I worry about my weight, but rather because I love how eating healthy makes me feel – and I praise myself for making healthy choices, not realising how this might make it sound like I somehow tie what I eat to my self-worth.

Egger explains:

"Maybe you’ve prided yourself for being “good” and not getting dessert. Maybe you fault yourself for being “bad” and finishing the potato chips. Bottom line: If you say these types of things enough in front of your daughters, you’re demonstrating a negative relationship with your own body and aligning your self-worth with what you eat."

She continues:

“Not eating a certain food doesn’t make you a good person. In fact, all food is fuel, so you don’t want to play into the idea that your self-esteem hinges on your dietary choices."

Show them how you love your body instead

I know I try to do this with my own children – show them how I love my body enough to take care of it. I do yoga because it makes me feel strong and flexible. I eat plant-based because I want to nourish myself with healthy food and take care of the planet. I love soaking in a hot bath, going for an icy sea swim and also pamper myself with lotions and potions – just because I love my body – not because I want to change it or slim it down.

“Healthy food, physical activity and the joy of being a fully rounded person who is so much more than their appearance help model a more neutral relationship with your body,” Egger reminds us.

In other words, maybe we should celebrate the fact that our bodies now feel full after eating pizza or we think about all our bodies did (and can do) leading up to and after a certain meal – rather than think in terms of punishing it for craving certain things or eating certain things.

"Basically, if you’re going to say anything about your body and the food that’s going into it, keep it positive and factual," Egger says.

"That said, if you do find yourself often feeling “naughty” or “bad” in regards to food—it could be indicative of emotions like self-doubt or sadness, and you may want to consult a professional for help processing those feelings."