Warning: Rant ahead. Anyone who knows me knows how salty my language can get, including my kids, who are old enough to hear bad language from their parents. I may curse in front of my children without a second thought, but there are certain cringe-worthy nutrition terms I will not say. Here’s where I draw the line, and why.
For me “fat” is a word to avoid unless it’s used to describe the nutrient itself or the cells in your body that store energy. Fat should never be used as an adjective to characterize someone’s appearance, including your own. Even if you don’t say fat, you may think it’s fine to complain or joke about your “thunder thighs” or your “muffin top” in front of your child without influencing their perception of their own body, but that’s probably not the case.
I avoid the F-word because I heard my mother refer to herself as fat one too many times during my childhood. My mom struggled with her weight, and she was on and off diets for as long as I can remember. She got down on herself about putting on pounds, and was equally elated when they peeled off on the latest low-calorie fad.
While my mom never commented on my weight, her dissatisfaction with her own rubbed off on me. To make matters worse, I inherited a slower-than-molasses metabolism, and was heavier than I wanted to be in my younger days. I dieted plenty before deciding to be done with all that in my early twenties and to focus on eating healthier on a daily basis.
This word really gets my goat. It’s often used as a compliment but it can also be used to shame someone who is on the thin side, especially by those who would like to lose weight. Some people are naturally slim because that’s their body type. While many people crave the label, thin people may find it insulting.
I can’t even think of an instance where I would say the s-word, yet skinny has such appeal that it’s prominent in the titles of nutrition books and web sites, many of them written by credible experts. It really bothers me that skinny is used as an aspirational term, because going for “skinny” can be detrimental to a healthy body image. In addition, being waif-like in appearance doesn’t automatically guaruntee good health.
I ask my children to clean the kitchen, the bathroom, and their bedrooms, but there is no way that I would ever ask them to eat clean. I won’t even talk about clean eating unless pressed to describe what it is.
To be fair, the basic principles of clean eating are admirable: consume fewer processed foods and more whole foods and lightly processed fare. But, as with most eating plans, many people have taken the concept of eating “clean” too far.
I can’t get past the notion that if you’re not eating “clean,” then you’re eating “dirty.” I also get the idea that some die-hard “clean” eaters look down on those who can’t, or don’t want to, eat the same way because it’s too costly, it’s inconvenient, or they’re just not interested.
I want my children to see food as fuel to keep their body and brain strong and healthy. What words or terms do you avoid saying in front of young children and teens?