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  • Writer's pictureRhea Lewandoski R.D.

The Language We Use Matters

Author: Rhea Lewandoski R.D.

Two friends talking outside

What we hear, think, and say can have a profound impact on how we feel. If

you suspect of or know someone who is struggling with their relationship

with food and/or their body, it can be extremely helpful to build awareness

around the language you use when discussing food and bodies in your day-

to-day life. Bringing awareness and changing the way we speak about food

and bodies takes time and intentional effort. It is understood often that the

language we use is not meant to hurt someone else or said with malicious

intent. We all live in a world where diet culture exists, and these narratives

can be strong. When someone knows and can see you are making an effort

to challenge these beliefs and the language you use for yourself and to

support them, it can really mean a lot.


Language and beliefs to be aware of and challenge:

  • Assuming eating disorders are a choice

  • Praising another’s appearance based on body size or attractiveness

  • Complimenting someone’s body changes

  • Talking negatively about our own or another’s body

  • Discussing measurements, weight, clothing size

  • Labelling food as “good” or “bad”, “healthy” or “unhealthy”

  • Making fun of our own or someone else’s eating habits or choices

  • Labelling a body size “healthy” or “unhealthy” or “good” or “bad”

  • Encouraging exercise as a “cure-all” or in excessive amounts (this can vary for each individual)

  • Showing excessive concern about a loved one’s appearance

  • Responding negatively to changes in someone’s body

  • Assuming someone must look a certain way to have an eating disorder

  • Telling someone to “just eat more”, or “eat less”

  • Offering unsolicited advice in general, but especially around food, diet, and exercise


Language and support to give:

  • Letting them know that this is not their fault

  • Reminding them that recovery is possible

  • Offering your support in the capacity you have to give it

  • Telling them you are proud of them for the effort and strength it takes to work on recovery

  • Offering to attend appointments with them to learn more

  • Asking them what would feel supportive for them

  • Asking them what their goals are in recovery or what they are working on and if they want support

  • Letting them know their feelings matter “how you feel is valid because…”

  • Asking them if and what you should be looking out for and how they would like you to approach these conversations with them

  • Talking about food neutrally – calling food by its name ex. Apple, chips, bread etc. vs. labelling it into categories

  • Reminding them they are worthy no matter their body size or weight and that body changes are a normal part of life and recovery

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