What’s the why behind your food choices? What voices drive your eating behaviors?
Maybe you haven’t given this much thought, and that’s okay! Intuitive eating principle #4, challenge the food police, will help you recognize the voices that influence how you feel and behave around food. This newfound awareness is a valuable tool for healing your relationship with food.
Who Is the Food Police?
You know those “what I ate in a day” posts? Or maybe you can recall magazine articles about what a favorite celebrity eats in a day. As much as I love reading about food, these articles can trigger my inner food police.
The food police sounds something like: If Jennifer Anniston has a protein shake for breakfast, I should have a protein shake for breakfast. If she sticks to salads at lunch, I should order a salad for lunch.
Whenever I hear the word “should” as a part of my inner-dialogue, it’s a red flag for recognizing the voice of my inner food police. What works for Jen may not work for me, and that’s okay!
When you catch a judgement in your thoughts about food, it’s probably the food police. It’s the same voice that enforces diet rules and tells you when you’re “good” for eating salad or “bad” for eating a brownie. It’s the voice that determines your worth based on what you did or didn’t eat.
More examples of the food police:
- After 7pm I can’t eat.
- Even though I’m hungry, I should skip lunch because I’m going out for dinner.
- I ate too much on the weekend, so I should limit carbs this week.
- I shouldn’t eat pizza if I want to look skinny tomorrow.
These messages do not nourish our relationship with food and our body. They only cause harm. The food police interferes with internal cues of hunger (see: Honor Your Hunger), sparks guilt (see: Make Peace with Food), and triggers negative self-talk.
How to Identify (& Challenge) the Food Police
Now that you’ve been introduced to the food police, you can probably recall a few times you’ve heard this voice. What tone does your food police carry? What phrases does it repeat to you?
To change how you relate to the food police, you must first be able to identify it upon arrival! Pay attention to these 3 types of negative self-talk to catch the food police:
1. All-or-nothing thinking.
This type of thinking is black and white. In the case of eating, it leads to phrases like: I never eat just one cookie– I will eat the entire plate or none at all. Or, I never order healthy when eating out; I always overeat when eating out.
- Challenge: To put a halt to this type of thinking, replace “black and white” terms like never and always with gentle words like sometimes or may.
2. Linear thinking.
This type of thinking is only pleased when hitting the “end” result with no deviations from the plan. It follows a straight line and leaves no room for fluctuations. When coupled with the food police, it may sound like: I must lose 2 lbs per week, with no deviation, and only then will I be happy; the faster I lose weight, the happier I will be.
- Challenge: To let go of linear thinking, invite process thinking. Process thinking values progress over perfection. It views setbacks as learning opportunities and celebrates small wins.
3. Catastrophic thinking.
Catastrophic thinking creates exaggerated beliefs around an undesirable outcome, robbing peace of the present moment. The catastrophic food police may sound like: I’m eating pizza tonight…I won’t be able to fit into my jeans tomorrow…I’ll never be happy with my appearance…No one will ever like me.
- Challenge: Meet catastrophic thinking with rational questions. What facts support this thought to be true? What is true or correct about this belief…what is false?
Change your thoughts to change your behavior. Positive thoughts create positive actions, while negative thoughts perpetuate negative actions.
That’s why it’s essential to pay attention to the voices driving your eating behaviors! The more you practice identifying negative thinking, the easier it becomes to catch the food police. Ultimately, you’ll learn how to welcome intuitive eating voices instead of the food police.
Welcome Intuitive Eating Voices
Contrary to the food police, intuitive eating voices are non-judgemental, neutral, and help us make informed decisions around food based on our inner wisdom.
In the previous examples of the food police, the intuitive eater might say:
Food Police → Intuitive Eater
- Even thought I’m hungry, I can’t eat because it’s after 7 pm. → I may honor my hunger by eating a snack or meal that sounds appealing to me. I know from experience that I have difficulty sleeping if I skip my evening meal.
- I should skip lunch because I’m going out for dinner. → I notice my stomach growling. If I don’t eat now, I will likely get to the point of ravenous hunger where overeating typically takes place. I will feel more comfortable if I eat now.
- Because I ate too much on the weekend, I should limit carbs this week. → My body still needs carbohydrates as the main source of fuel to function.
- I shouldn’t eat pizza if I want to look skinny tomorrow. → Sometimes I feel bloated after eating pizza due to the high sodium. This state of water retention is temporary.
It’s evident that the intuitive eater still takes into account nutrition but does so from a place of nourishment versus deprivation. The intuitive eater is in alignment with positive self-talk, fruitful ground for positive action.
Your intuitive voice is like a supportive best friend looking out for your heart. When you’re about to fall for another bad boy, she reminds you, “Remember last time that boy broke your heart?” Your intuitive voice is looking out for your well-being, too, except it sounds like, “Hey girl, remember how hangry you felt last time you skipped lunch?”
I’m here to help you challenge the food police! Schedule your free discovery call today!