Some words we speak elicit a thought, a feeling and a reaction that can leave us discouraged and feeling bad about ourselves. Below are my top five words to ban in 2019 as they serve no purpose in lifting our spirits, motivation and self-worth.
Should/Shouldn’t. I don’t know about you but when I hear, “I should or shouldn’t eat that” or “I should know better”, I cringe. Should and shouldn’t are powerful words often used to indicate obligation or correctness that often conveys criticism. When you hear yourself say, “I should/shouldn’t,” can you stop and ask yourself how this word makes you feel? Challenge how much this word helps or hurts your cause?
Bad. Although 2018 might be known as the year of clean and pure eating, you are not bad for choosing to eat something that is not on this year’s healthiest foods list. When you look up the definition of bad you see words such as poor quality, low standard, unpleasant, unwelcomed. Bad is a powerful word. Think about how you feel when you say to yourself, “I was bad on my diet today (which may be followed with because I ate bad foods).” Does this word motivate you to believe in yourself and what you can achieve? When you hear yourself say, “I was bad,” can you stop and ask yourself how that word makes you feel? Challenge how much this word helps or hurts your cause?
Guilty. We are human and we will make mistakes. When I hear people say, “I feel so guilty that I ate "X”, or “I feel so guilty that I didn’t walk today”, I can visually see the distress on their faces and I feel sad. From my nutrition counseling, I know the consequences of this word is often unrealistic restriction or giving up and overindulging. The definition of guilt includes words such as wrongdoing, fault, judgment. Guilty is a powerful word. When you hear yourself say you feel guilty, can you stop and ask yourself how that word makes you feel. Challenge how much this word helps or hurts your cause?
Cheated. The definition of “cheated” includes a very powerful word, dishonestly. When someone has “cheated” on their diet, did they act dishonestly or unfairly to gain an advantage? When I hear people say they cheated on their diet, I am sad for they did nothing dishonest. Cheated is a powerful word. When you hear yourself say you cheated, can you stop and ask yourself how this word make you feel? Challenge how much this word helps or hurts your cause.
Treat. Treat is an interesting word because it tends to mean an event or item that is special or out of the ordinary that gives great pleasure. Unlike the other four words above, treat may be viewed as a positive word, however, in the context of food or taking a day off from exercise, treat is something only to be granted on occasion for good behavior. Our society seems to say you can have “bad” foods as a “treat.” Treat is a powerful word. When you hear yourself say you deserve a treat, can you stop and ask yourself how this word makes you feel. Challenge how much this word helps or hurts your cause.
If you choose to remove the words above from your vocabulary in 2019, what words will replace them? Below are five words that are more compatible with positive thoughts.
Could—“I could eat this now or later. My decision.”
And—(used in place of “but”) “I like chocolate and I like broccoli.”
Choose—“I will choose to wait until later to eat this cookie I just purchased.”
Progress—It’s about progress, not perfection. “I am making progress. I’m not perfect.”
Learnings—“Yesterday I learned that it is important for me to eat every four hours or I get too hungry and crave whatever is in sight.
There are many other words that empower us and move us forward. These are just a few. Try using these words (or others you find) in place of the banned words and then ask yourself how each word makes you feel.
*This blog is about word choice and not intended to replace the advice from your primary care provider
By Eileen Stellefson Myers, MPH, RDN, LDN, CEDRD, FAND