Dealing with the food police
So what exactly is the food police? It’s the thoughts in your head, the beliefs and the negative voices telling you what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. It judges everything you put into your mouth. The food police typically stems from diet culture. From things diets have told to you, to things people have told you, things magazines have told you, etc. It can be hard to know which food facts are true and which ones have come from diet culture.
One of the main characteristics of the food police is guilt and moralization. Moralizing foods into “good”, “bad”, “healthy”, “unhealthy”, “clean”, etc is what fuels the guilt many experience after eating a “sinful” food.
Think of how the diet industry feeds off our sense of food guilt. Foods and food products labels as such only add more fuel to the fire:
- “Zero guilt”
- “Guilty pleasure”
These food labels only serve to drive the message deeper that the normal and necessary need to eat is “shameful” and must be chastised at all costs. (And it also doesn’t hurt them that they’re cleaning out your wallet, meanwhile). It also triggers compensating behaviors, such as overexercising in order to “atone” for committing a food sin.
But, like I’ve said so many times, food is just food! We need it to live, but we also have a right to enjoy it without the food police breathing down our necks. Which is why this principle (#4) of intuitive eating is so crucial for gaining food freedom.
Dealing with the food police involves, first of all, identifying the thoughts we have around food, plus dealing with our own beliefs and feelings around food. Don’t worry, I’ll give you a series of steps you can try. Remember, as with anything related to the diet mentality, it takes time and effort to unpack all those years of conditioning we’ve had.
OK, let’s jump right in. Like I said, first we have to identify the thoughts that are the food police talking, and then we learn how to challenge and replace these thoughts into healthier ones. This in time will help change our feelings, beliefs and attitudes about food, helping us become the intuitive eaters we were born to be.
Ask yourself this questions: Is obsessing so much over food and dieting really making us as a society happier?
Common food police talk:
You know when the food police has pulled you over when you hear (or think) of the following:
- That has too many calories
- You shouldn’t eat after “x” hour (I hear this one a lot!)
- That’s too high in “_____” (carbs, sugar, fats, etc.)
- You’ll gain weight if you eat that
- You ate too much, you shouldn’t eat for the rest of the day
- You have to “work off” that cupcake
- It’s not time to eat yet
- You just ate, how could you still be hungry?
It’s interesting that even if you’re not dieting, the inner food police can still be very much present. It is ready at any moment to second guess and question your intuition a food preferences. This is disempowering on so many levels! In fact, I personally consider external food rules as an invasion our our boundaries. Let me explain: would you let someone tell you when is the correct moment to go to the bathroom, even if you have to go, like, right now? That’s what dieting does: it disregards our natural need for food and tries to regulate it to conform to socially constructed body types.
So what can you do about it? In essence, change your beliefs, thoughts and behaviors about food. It’s not always easy, but it is a worthy goal in order to gain freedom around food. You’ll learn to eat the foods you really want to, while checking your thoughts to be sure they support your choices. But first, let’s see what being free from the food police can look like.
What does living without the food police look like?
Like I’ve mentioned before, we were not born with the food police monitoring our eating behaviors. These negative feelings and beliefs about food come from:
- Diet culture
- Media (especially women’s magazines)
- Diet industry marketing
We were born to be intuitive eaters. As an example, here’s what enjoying food without guilt or moralizing can look like:
Recently, my 7 year old daughter wanted an ice cream flurry, so I bought her one (I’m raising her to be an intuitive eater). I watched with amusement how she enjoyed her ice cream with abandon, squealing over how good it tasted and how cold and creamy the texture was. “This is sooo good, Mama!”, she exclaimed. When we got home, she just went about her merry way, no food guilt or worrying about how she was going to “burn it off”.
I thought, ‘Dang, this is how eating is supposed to be when we’re not bombarded with all those external food and diet rules’. Pure, simple enjoyment, with the satisfaction that comes from eating what we really want. I would never want my kids to feel unworthy or inadequate because of what society says is “right” or “wrong” to eat. I will not allow anyone to tell them how to be or what to feel, especially when honoring their bodies’ messages.
Getting rid of the food police!
As we can see from the above example, getting rid of the food police allows you to:
- Learn to trust your body
- Develop body respect
- Make food choices based on satisfaction and inner needs
- Tune out the external diet culture noise and tune into yourself
Eating according to one-size-fits-all rules doesn’t take into account the diversity of our bodies and our needs.
If you’re interested in learning more in-depth on how to challenge the Food Police, you can get your Free Download Here: Dealing with the food police