Have you ever heard of the Food Police before? Inside of Intuitive Eating, Principle #4 is “Challenge the Food Police.” This is an essential step in healing your relationship with food!
Without knowing what & who the food police are in your life, it can be difficult to identify where your food beliefs are rooted. Without knowing where our food rules & beliefs come from, it can be difficult to truly release them!
Are you actually leaning into your intuition with your food? Do you truly trust your body? Or are you subconsciously or consciously still listening to the food police in your everyday life?
Let’s start with the basics!
What is the Food Police?
The food police can be pretty much anyone or anything.
It could be your uncle at Thanksgiving who has lost some lbs from doing Keto and now proclaims that everybody should be doing Keto.
It could be your health professional who puts you on yet another diet so that you can lose weight. Because according to them, that will solve all of your health issues…
The food police can even be your partner who likes to comment on your food choices with a, “should you really be eating that?”
Maybe for some of you the food police isn’t actually a person and it’s rather the magazine you see in the check-out lane at the grocery store.
Or the fitness influencer you follow on Instagram.
Or even your Pinterest or Google searches can be the food police!
The food police is anybody or anything who likes to tell you what you should eat, how you should eat, or when you should eat.
The food police inflicts food beliefs & rules onto your life!
Examples of Beliefs that the Food Police Inflict Upon You
Sometimes it can be helpful to see some literal examples of what type of food beliefs & rules the food police tend to give to people.
Here are some examples!
– You should not eat until noon and don’t eat after 6PM
– You should fill half your plate with something green at every meal
– Always ask the waiter to not bring bread to your table, it will make you fat
– Drink a full glass of water when you are hungry instead of eating
– You should save calories for a meal out
– Don’t ever ‘drink your calories’
– Only eat sugar on your ‘cheat day’
– Chew gum when you are hungry between meals instead of having a snack
– You should eat low carb, high fat & drink ketones
– Veganism is the best way to lose weight
– Eating paleo is the only way to stay healthy
– You should never eat preservatives
– Don’t ever consume sugar
– Don’t eat frozen meals
– Don’t eat canned food
Sound familiar? Often the rules that the food police tell us to follow we end either believing them subconsciously or following them consciously.
For an example let’s say your aunt mentions how sugar causes cancer.
You might find yourself suddenly beating yourself up every time you eat sugar even though you might not even believe that sugar causes cancer. Or you may decide to cut out sugar because your aunt says it causes cancer.
The food police in this instance (your aunt) planted this belief and thought pattern around sugar in your life.
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Why we Need to Rid Ourselves of the Food Police
The food police often end up creating our food reality for us.
Instead of your tuning in and finding which foods bring you the most satisfaction or pleasure, the food police tells you which foods you should and shouldn’t be eating.
Instead of you learning to trust your body inside & out, the food police tells you that your body cannot be trusted, but they can be.
We must first identify who the food police are in our lives. Then, what rules they planted in our lives. From there we can free ourselves from those rules & beliefs and truly start leaning into intuitions again!
It’s impossible to lean into our intuition, our satisfaction, our fullness and our pleasure when our minds and bodies are still overflowing with beliefs & thoughts that the food police placed on us.
Identifying the Food Police Exercise
Let’s rid you of some food police beliefs and rules right now!
I challenge you right now to think of 5 rules or ideas you have around food that are likely the food police.
Use the above list to jog your memory around what your food police may be telling you!
Go on! I’ll wait…
Now, your next step is to identify…
“Where did this belief first enter my life?”
When we can find the root of where the belief or thought pattern entered your life, we can more effectively destroy it!
Often, when I ask my clients this question they think for a moment and then respond with, “my cousin the accountant told me to chew gum to suppress my appetite!” Or, “I saw it in a commercial for _____ diet!”
You’re Turn! Take those 5 rules you identified above and one by one identify who is talking with each one!
Ok last step, now we challenge the food police. Tell the food police why you no longer have to live by their rules. Tell them why it’s important for you to trust your body and your intuition. Tell them that they are no longer welcome here!
If you are finding it difficult to relate this to your life, keep reading!
I want to write out a few clear examples of how to move through this exercise so that you will see exactly how it works!
- Thought from The Food Police: “You can’t have that brownie! You’ve already had a sweet today. More than one sweet a day is bad. It’s unhealthy. Only unhealthy people eat more than one sweet per day.”
- Where did this belief first enter my life? “Oh, I remember! When I was a kid my mom only let me have one sweet per day! I know she had the best of intentions. However, it definitely taught me to not trust my body. It also taught me that food is linked to morality. That there are good and bad foods.”
- Challenge the Food Police: “I’m learning to honour my hunger & fullness and today, I’m hungry, now. And I’m craving a brownie. It’s ok that I have more than one sweet today. That was a rule placed on me by the food police and it does not have to be my truth! It’s not healthy to restrict food, because food restriction tends to cause food binges. Food is not good or bad. Food is needed to keep us alive! Eating is healthy!”
Let’s try another example!
- Thought from The Food Police: “Don’t eat pasta for dinner! White foods are BAD! Pasta, potatoes, bread, rice etc. Plus eating it for dinner is bad x2. You can’t digest such heavy white foods after lunch.”
- Where did this belief first enter my life? “Ahhh yes, from that good ol trainer at my morning boot camp. He’s constantly preaching that “white” foods will make you incredibly unhealthy and you will die sooner if you eat them. He always said that if you have to eat bad foods, you should eat them before or at lunch time, not after. Apparently (according to him) eating those foods after lunch just turns into fat.”
- Challenge the Food Police: “Actually being afraid of food is what’s unhealthy. At the end of the day food is calories, calories are energy, and in taking in energy is SELF CARE. I am working on not having any moral attachment to food, “good” or “bad.” I seek to be morally neutral so that I can truly hear what my bodies intuition is saying when it comes to food! I deserve to eat, even after lunch. I don’t have to starve myself or restrict white foods.”
Ok one more!
- Thought from The Food Police: “You cannot be healthy at your current weight. The BMI is the ultimate tool to judge health. And unless you have a normal BMI, you simply cannot be healthy. Whenever you see someone living in a larger body, you know they are not healthy.
- Where did this belief first enter my life? “I remember! It was my gym teacher in grade 4. I remember him saying that overweight people are not healthy. There was a kid in my class who was in a larger body and I remember him asking if he was healthy. The gym teacher responded that unless you have a normal BMI, that you can’t be healthy.”
- Challenge the Food Police: “There actually are no reputable studies that back up this thinking. In fact, a lot of studies show that a “healthy” BMI is not where most people are truly healthy at! I choose to love & accept my body right now, I will focus on becoming my healthiest self, right now, at my current size! Weight stigma is far unhealthier then living in a larger body. I choose to identify weight stigma in my life, and I choose to pursue health just the way I am!
Learning how to challenge the food police can seem difficult to start. I often encourage my clients to keep a running note in their phone when they recognize food police beliefs or rules that run through their heads throughout the day.
Then when they have time, they can work through their list, journaling or talking out these food police rules & beliefs.
Eventually this exercise will feel like second nature to you! You will notice a food belief thought, immediately get curious around where the belief is from and move onto challenging and removing that belief or thought.
Have patience with yourself, this can take time! But trust me, it is an exercise well worth mastering!
Where do the Food Police Come From?
It’s important to remember that more often or not, when the food police rear its ugly head through a family member or a friend, it’s more often than not because they truly care about you.
They are likely bringing up the topic because they want you to be your healthiest, happiest self. Not because they want to hurt you.
Know that their intentions are likely pure, but that doesn’t mean that the damage from their words is any less. It’s ok to acknowledge their pure intentions while setting a hard boundary around the food police in your life!
Let’s talk about how to navigate these difficult conversations with loved ones.
How to navigate Conversations with the Food Police
Food police conversations can pop up when our guards are down, and we are least expecting them.
They can occur around the office water cooler or at a family gathering. Maybe your mom likes to call you and act as the food police in your life or your husband becomes the food police when you mention not feeling comfortable in your clothes.
When navigating these conversations, I find it helpful to have a few “quick ones” in your back pocket that you can memorize and throw out there at a moment’s notice.
These are a few of my clients’ favs!
- I actually don’t find it helpful hearing your diet advice, let’s talk about your upcoming vacation instead!
- When you bring up diet advice it’s actually really harmful to me, let’s talk about how your work is going instead!
- Please don’t ever comment on my body, I am working on trusting my body & my intuition and your comments are not helpful. Let’s talk about something else instead!
When compiling your list of “quick ones” to get out of difficult conversations when the food police come up, remember that the importance is to…
- Set a clear boundary that this topic of conversation is not ok.
- Reroute the conversation so that the topic changes immediately.
Once you know what your “quick ones” will be, write them down in your phone for easy referencing and safe keeping!
Remember that you absolutely can at the same time acknowledge that your loved ones aren’t trying to harm you AND draw a clear boundary that them being the food police in your life is not ok.
Work with a Professional on Dismantling Your Food Police Beliefs & Rules
Sometimes no matter how many blogs we read or podcasts we listen to, we need some additional help on our journey to healing our relationship with food!
That is 100% ok and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of!
I do my best to create affordable resources to help you on your journey of intuitive eating and healing your relationship with food. I have resources that will help you lean into gentle nutrition, dismantle diet culture in your life and of course help you implement the 10 principles of intuitive eating!
Click here to see if any of my resources may be the perfect fit for you!
Until next time, happy healing!
Certified in Intuitive Eating
Licensed Health & Nutrition Counsellor