language dictionary

watch your language

Have you ever been told to watch your language?

Having worked in the food service industry for a long time, I can swear pretty proficiently in English and Spanish.

Oddly enough, I’m not sure I know any curse words in Russian, which I spoke growing up. Probably because my parents didn’t swear, and my grandmother would always flip over a letter on the Scrabble board when she thought it was a word we kids shouldn’t know.

And I don’t think I ever learned any bad words in Chinese, which was my course of study in college and grad school. My students in the private high school where I taught were sorely disappointed about this. How cool would it be to curse someone out in Chinese, after all?

But today I’m not talking about swear words when I say, “Watch your language.”

the power of language

I’ve written before about how our words not only reflect but shape our mindset and the world around us.

And this week’s blog post is about a specific situation in which shifting our language can be extremely powerful: emotional eating, also known as stress eating.

Think about how you’ve heard people talk about emotional eating when the topic is how to not do it. I’ll start: control, manage, conquer, tackle, beat, battle, struggle, shut down, master….

Phew, I’m already exhausted.

This is all the language of war and, these days, politics. It’s traditionally thought of as the language of the masculine, of the hunter and the warrior, the violent.

And we sure hear it all around us, so why not apply it in every situation?

say this not that

You may not have caught the furor over Anna Taylor’s “Say this not that” attempt to revise the violence of our language.  There’s more than a little irony in the Telegraph comment: “US-based author sparks fury after compiling hitlist of harmless phrases deemed too harsh and their ‘positive’ alternatives.” (Sparks? Fury? Hitlist? Harmless? Those are all fighting words, no?)

What’s wrong with violent language? Well, I invite you to look around and think about whether our world feels like it’s getting safer and more peaceful or scarier and more threatening.

But back to emotional eating (which we might be resorting to exactly because we feel unsafe).

What, then, is the alternative to this language?

I would suggest we look to the feminine, the mothering, nourishing, and mending language.

a kinder, gentler language

It might sound odd to “nourish” or “nurture” our emotional eating if we are trying to move away from it. Or is it?

Emotional eating is a symptom that something is awry emotionally—and given how unsuccessful most of us are with conquering, managing, battling, mastering, and beating it, perhaps it’s time to rethink our language and our approach to it.

If that sounds interesting, I offer you this word: stewarding.

Stewarding means taking loving, mindful care of that which is given you. In this case, you’re being given a message by your body that something needs to be addressed: are you going to ignore the message or pay attention to it?

make the connection

There’s still a fair bit of summer left, and then there’s the back-to-school and perhaps back-to-work crazies to get through, and once we get past that, the holiday season. (Which apparently starts NOW judging by the Halloween paraphernalia already in the stores—what?!?)

What better time is there to learn how to steward your emotional eating? Stop laughing—I’m serious!

This fall, I’ll be offering my Stewarding Emotional Eating™ program starting on October 2, 2023. It’s 13 weeks of content and coaching, and with time off for good behavior during the Thanksgiving and winter break, it will see you through the stress-inducing holiday season.

Want to learn more? Here are the details.


  1. Audrey

    This is brilliant! Stewarding is a great word. I have been working on that exact thing lately. I realized that as I am healing my hip, I was saying I have “virtually no pain”. Well, isn’t that fabulous, insert eye roll. Made me realize I was saying a lot of backwards and not forward looking things regarding my health in all ways. Thank you for sharing and I am excited for you for your course!!!

    1. Elizabeth Baker

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Love your observation about whether our language is forwards- or backwards-looking. Will be doing some reflection on that for sure…. <3

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