How to Challenge the Food Police
Are you listening to destructive dieting voices? Or are you listening to helpful intuitive eater voices? This post will help you evaluate your food thoughts, challenge the food police, and connect to your inner ally.
Evaluating Food Talk
In the world of diet culture, we pick up on phrases that break body trust and spark food fears. Phrases like:
- It’s bad to eat after 7 pm.
- You should skip lunch if you’re going out to dinner later.
- Bread is fattening.
- Avoid salt and sugar at all costs.
- All processed food is bad for you.
These messages, whether picked up from diet magazines or in conversation with friends, eventually make their way into our routine inner dialogue. The Intuitive Eating Book categorizes this as the voice of the Food Police.
Challenging the Food Police
The food police is a common destructive dieting voice.
It’s the 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.
This voice is harmful because it scrutinizes every food choice. It keeps food and your body at war.
The first step to challenging the food police is to identify it. 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.
Are You “Shoulding” All Over Yourself?
To identify the food police, notice the “shoulds”:
- I should order the salad.
- I should exercise more.
- Even though I’m hungry, I should skip breakfast.
- I should skip dessert.
- I should drink more water.
The “shoulds” enforce diet rules and leave no wiggle room. They often stem from a place of judgment. The more you listen to the “shoulds” the more difficult it is to identify what you really want.
Reflect on the “should” (or shouldn’t) statements you hear often. What themes do you notice? What tone does your inner food police speak to you in?
Buried beneath the food police is your internal wisdom. The intuitive eating voices will help you reconnect with that wisdom.
Welcoming Intuitive Eater Voices
The Intuitive Eating Book outlines 3 helpful intuitive eater voices. You can challenge the food police using one of these helpful voices. They are:
- Nutrition Ally
- Food Anthropologist
The Nutrition Ally
The nutrition ally cares about nutrition, but without a hidden agenda. Think of this voice as making choices based on health and satisfaction, not deprivation or dieting. It helps you make food choices that support your health that authentically feel good to you, too.
For example, let’s say you have diabetes and are choosing between two types of tortillas that you equally like. The nutrition ally would help you choose the one higher in fiber and lower in added sugar. This option tastes good to you and supports better blood sugar.
The Food Anthropologist
The food anthropologist voice observes without judgment — just as an anthropologist would observe an individual or culture. Think of this voice as your neutral observer. It helps you sort through the facts of your eating behaviors versus getting caught up in the emotional drama.
It provides observations like:
- I skipped lunch and was ravenous by 5 pm. (Noticing the impact of skipping meals.)
- I ate dessert and felt guilty. (Noticing the feeling without judgment.)
I have my clients connect with their food anthropologists by instructing them to keep a food and mood journal. Many people have negative experiences with keeping a food journal that tracks calories, macros, or points, etc. But the food & mood journal places the emphasis on observation over judgment, just like the food anthropologist!
The nurturer is soothing and gentle — just like a best friend or parent. Think of this voice as how you would speak to a child. It helps elicit positive self-talk versus catastrophizing.
It provides statements like:
- I’m learning to listen to my body.
- It’s normal to have ups and downs along the way.
- It’s okay to eat and enjoy a cookie!
The nurturer rests on self-compassion. Many of my clients come to me thinking that compassion equals laziness like they are being too “easy” on themselves. But over time, they discover that compassion is a greater motivator than criticism.
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! Contact me to set up a free discovery call!