Become an Intuitive Eater
Principle Four: Challenge the Food Police
In our quest to become Intuitive Eaters, we will focus this month on the fourth of ten principles: learning how to challenge the food police. In the world of dieting and eating, there are specific “voices” which influence the way we think, feel, and behave in regard to eating. In light of our limited space here, I will introduce you to the two most important voices: the Food Police–which is only harmful–and the Nurturer–which is only helpful–in determining the success of becoming an Intuitive Eater. To learn about the other voices and how they can help or hinder your journey, read chapter 8 in Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.
Developed through dieting, the Food Police is a strong voice that judges how “good” or “bad” you are in the area of eating, and it almost always surfaces with a verdict of “guilty.” The highly critical Food Police inspects every eating action. What thoughts are being promoted by your police? Here are a few common ones: Sweets are bad for me. I should never eat after 6:00pm. I should never eat anything that has fat in it. Cake is bad. Carrots are good.
It is important to realize that the Food Police is not only alive and well within our own private thoughts, but also in our culture, where even non-dieters experience eating angst. In a random survey of approximately 2,000 adults, nearly half reported feeling guilty after eating food that they enjoy! So be aware that the Food Police lurks in the shadows of society, in the comment of the well-meaning friend or family member who says, “You’re not going to eat that, are you? I thought you were trying to lose weight!” However, we must realize that just because someone makes an inappropriate comment does not make it true.
On the other end of the spectrum, where the Intuitive Eater is found, you hear the voice of the Nurturer–soft, gentle, and nonjudgmental. It never scolds or scrutinizes and is one of the most significant tools to becoming an Intuitive Eater. It will provide coping statements to counteract the harsh accusations that the Food Police can hurl. The following are examples of what our Nurturer might say: It’s okay to eat a cookie; eating a cookie is normal. When I overate today, I wonder what was really going on with me that I needed more food to comfort myself. Losing weight is a slow process, and I will choose to be patient and celebrate the successes along the way.
So remember, even when you reject dieting (principle one), honor your hunger (principle two), and begin to make peace with food (principle three), if the Food Police isn’t subdued, you are on a slippery slope headed back to bondage.Rid yourself of the negative voices that have been buried in your psyche for so long, and instead choose to nurture yourself with gentle truth. By listening to your instinctual signals, you’ll have the chance to form a healthy relationship with food!