Since 2009, our Whole30 program has helped you change your relationship with food. In Food Freedom Forever, we help you redefine the way you think about your “diet” and your relationship with food. Today, we ask you to take an honest look at one more aspect of your life-changing transformation: Your vocabulary.

Good, Bad, and Morality Around Food

Negative self-talk is one of the fastest ways of destroying self-esteem, sabotaging your goals, and negatively influencing your mood and emotions. “Fat-talk” (negative self-talk about your body) can lead to eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and low self-esteem. Statements like “I could have,” “I should be,” and “I used to” short-circuit progress towards your goals, and keep you focused on the past or future, not your accomplishments here in the present.

And what about the words you use to describe your food choices?

I was so good today, I ate strict Paleo.”

I was so bad today—I ate ice cream and chocolate cake at the party.”

I cheated on my diet with a glass of wine.”

 “I totally failed—there were bread crumbs in that dish.”

 “I’ve been behaving with my diet, no gluten or dairy.”

 “I’m a disaster—I can’t stop eating sugar.”

You have no idea, the power of these words you choose to describe your food.

The Weight of Words

Linking your food choices with your self-worth is damaging and destructive. You are worth more than the food you put on your plate. Your value as a person has nothing to do with ice cream or broccoli.

Thinking of yourself as a good person or a bad person based on your food choices is damaging and destructive. You can be a good person who makes a healthy choice, or a good person who makes an unhealthy choice… but either way, you can be a good person.

Treating your diet like a jealous lover who will be critical and disapproving if you flirt with another is damaging and destructive. Food does not judge you. You are the only person with the power to do that.

Deeming yourself a success or failure (implied: in life) based solely on what you ate is damaging and destructive. Are you a success because you ate broccoli, or because you demonstrated kindness to someone? Are you a failure despite your kindness, simply because later that day, you caved to a craving?

Treating yourself like a child who needs to “be good” on their diet is damaging and destructive. What happens when a child misbehaves? They are punished. And food should never be associated with punishment.

Insulting yourself for your choices—any choices—is perhaps the most damaging and destructive behavior of all. You aren’t a mess, a disaster, a train wreck. You are a good person, struggling with a difficult issue. You are more than just the results of your struggles.

Learn a New Language

Someone asked us on Facebook recently, “I ate Paleo all day, and I know what to call that—I just say I ate ‘strict Paleo.’  But what should I call it when later, I eat some pizza?”

Cheat?

Slip?

Fail?

 What if we just called it, “eating pizza?”

As you have changed your relationship with food, and are changing your relationship with your body, today we invite you to develop a new language around your food.

You are not good or bad based on your choices. They are simply choices.

You do not cheat, you make a choice.

You do no fail, you make a choice.

You can be a good person who made a bad choice.

There is no guilt, only consequence.

There is no punishment, only consequence.

Imagine, for a moment, that your food is just food, and that your choices are just choices—good, bad, those words describe your decisions, not you. Imagine how freeing that would be?

Your food choices are not a statement about your self-worth, your value, or your significance in this world. Believe this, and everything changes.

For more on this concept, read or listen to Melissa Hartwig’s Food Freedom Forever.