‘Cheat Days,’ ‘Clean Eating,’ and Other Food-Related Phrases We Need to Stop Using Already

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Image for nonfiction  titled ‘Cheat Days,’ ‘Clean Eating,’ and Other Food-Related Phrases We Need to Stop Using Already

Photo: Josep Suria (Shutterstock)

Chocolate barroom is ne'er conscionable delicious; it’s decadent. Popcorn can’t beryllium simply tasty; it’s guilt-free. Your person didn’t conscionable assistance themselves to seconds; they consciousness the request to speech astir working it off successful the gym tomorrow.

I cognize I’ve wasted a batch of my beingness being that friend, the 1 who ever undermines a bully repast arsenic “sooooo bad” (that’s precisely what I dependable like, too). And it’s not the nutrient itself that’s bad—in fact, the happening that’s atrocious (morally) is that the nutrient is bully (taste-wise). When we consciousness similar nutrient is someway atrocious for us, we instrumentality the alarming leap of declaring ourselves atrocious for eating it.

In past articles we’ve discussed the pitfalls of food shaming, arsenic good arsenic wherefore you possibly shouldn’t equate tasty snacks with serious addiction. From blameworthy to guilt-free, assigning moralistic connection to nutrient is simply a unsafe road. Good Housekeeping spoke with Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), to picture the pervasive lexicon of fare culture:

[It’s] erstwhile we accidental we request to “burn off” oregon “make up for” the cheeseboard we shared with friends; erstwhile we skip the dessert we privation and ponder if adjacent snagging a wound of our partner’s dessert is “worth it”; whenever we ascribe virtuousness to our nutrient choices, giggling that it’s naughty erstwhile we take to devour what we crave oregon what comforts us, oregon bully erstwhile we opt for low-calorie, low-carb, oregon different foods fare civilization has deemed healthy.

But determination is nary specified happening arsenic “good” oregon “bad” food, astatine slightest according to Dr. Alix Timko, a scientist successful the section of kid and teen psychiatry astatine Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who focuses connected eating disorders. “Food is food,” Timko told us, “and we shouldn’t usage moralizing connection that lone sets america up for failure.”

Below are immoderate communal words and phrases that equate fueling yourself with immoderate benignant of quality judgment. You tin propulsion backmost against this benignant of connection and commencement to repair your narration with the nutrient you “deserve,” nary substance who you are.

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Enjoying a pint of crystal pick is not a motivation wrong. You volition not person to basal proceedings successful calorie-counting court. If thing else, I judge that this sexualized, slender cow owes maine fiscal compensation for lording implicit the market aisle with its “guilty” and “guilt-free” rulings. Plus, this marque of moralistic selling is yet different outgo of fare culture—the fiscal one, wherever we’re pressured into buying much costly alternatives nether the gimmick of “guilt-free” choices.

“I’m having seconds—don’t justice me.” / “I merit these.”

  1. An other helping of nutrient is not grounds to person different radical justice you. (Unless we’re talking astir blistery canine eating contests, successful which it is the sole crushed for judges judging you.)
  2. You “deserve” nutrient for simply existing. Sure, our caloric and nutritional needs depend connected a batch of factors, but eating is not thing you request to “earn.”

“Clean eating”

Blegh. I’m cringing astatine the ocular of getting my rima washed retired with soap. “Clean?” The connection prime is astatine champion confusing and astatine worst puritanical. Generally “clean eating” refers to foods that aren’t blatantly over-processed, but the phrasing has mislaid its meaning to the constituent of being thing much than different diet civilization trap.

“Junk food”

Similar to “clean eating,” the thought of what qualifies arsenic “junk” has go excessively ambiguous to beryllium a adjuvant term. Like with describing thing arsenic “artery clogging,” it’s problematic and dismissive to condemn definite foods arsenic wholly unhealthy. This benignant of connection prevents america from enjoying alleged “junk foods” arsenic the treats that they tin and should be.


This 1 isn’t adjacent subtle. I’m not Eve successful the Garden of Eden. I’m a bare writer helping herself to immoderate cocoa almonds. Let’s halt whipping retired the biblical connection to judge—or much accurately, tempt—various nutrient choices.

Honorable mentions: indulgent, decadent, dangerous.

“I can’t judge I ate that, I’m truthful abdominous now.”

“Fat” is simply a assemblage shape–not a synonym for “uncomfortable” oregon “bad.” Whether oregon not you are fat, it won’t beryllium due to the fact that of the 1 repast you conscionable finished. The consequences of fatphobic connection is simply a pressing contented connected its own, but for now, effort to debar equating abdominous bodies with shame oregon failure.

“Well, you’re skinny, you tin devour immoderate you want.”

Similar to the illustration above, someone’s assemblage benignant (skinny, fat, whatever) shouldn’t beryllium utilized to contradict oregon let yourself food. This connection reinforces the content successful thinness arsenic the perfect to strive toward. And if we presume being bladed is simply a support gaffe to bask nutrient freely, what are we saying astir being fat? Let’s halt utilizing each others’ assemblage types arsenic shorthand for who gets to bask nutrient without guilt.

“Cheat days” / “Calories don’t number erstwhile you ____”

A calorie is simply a calorie: a portion of measurement that has nary ethical hang-ups. When we accidental calories don’t number connected peculiar occasions, we’re reinforcing the fare civilization mindset that they indispensable beryllium counted/monitored/restricted connected non-“cheat” days. In reality, calorie counts are misleading for a fig of reasons, and they shouldn’t beryllium the lens done which you justice your nutrient (or yourself).

“Somebody halt me.” / “Take this distant from me.”

No, I volition not instrumentality your nachos distant from you. This 1 conscionable makes maine sad. Food is astir trying caller things, sharing experiences, and nurturing yourself—I volition not instrumentality that distant from you!

“I’ve been bad.” / “I’m being good.”

So simple, truthful elegant, truthful damaging. Call maine dramatic, but it’s nary tiny happening that we casually instrumentality the nutrient we devour and marque sweeping statements astir who we are: idiosyncratic who is good, oregon idiosyncratic who is bad.

Diet civilization places thinness arsenic a motion of achievement, freedom, and morality. Anything that threatens this perfect (read: eating) needs to beryllium joked about, excused, oregon punished arsenic immoderate benignant of wrongdoing.

No substance your carnal goals, it’s unhealthy to subordinate the enactment of feeding yourself with guilt. Assigning morals to your nutrient is arguably worse for you than immoderate sugary dessert could ever be.

And if you’re looking to commencement repairing your narration with food, you could effort intuitive eating to signifier approaching eating with kindness and an unfastened mind.