Challenge The Food Police

You might be wondering: “What is Food Police and why it’s important to challenge it?”

Food Police in intuitive eating model refers to all the strict rules about food and eating, inflicted by the diet culture and internalized from dieting expereinces. It’s located in our heads, making sure we follow its rules and “writing us a ticket” every time we don’t.

“Enjoyed a brownie? – 30 push-ups!”

“Had an I extra slice of bread? – skip your next meal!”

Food Police operates on cognitive distortions, such as black-or-white thinking (food is either “healthy” or “unhealthy”), catastrophic thinking (“if I eat that, I will have diabetes”), linear thinking (“calories in – calories out”) and some others.

Located in our heads, they monitor us closely and constantly, reminding us with every bite we take that we have to “watch” what we eat, comply with food rules, to make sure we don’t gain weight.

Despite their protective nature, these voices can present a significant barrier to healing one’s relationship with food and achieving food freedom.

Trying to ignore those voices usually don’t make them any quieter. What you can do, instead is starting to acknowledge their presence, reflect on what they say, and reframe them.

If they tell you “you have been eating all day, you will get fat!”, it’s a distorted interpretation followed by an assumption, rather than a concrete fact (chances are you have done at least a couple of other things besides eating and even if you ate more than you were physically hungry for, it may or may not affect your weight). 

Recognizing a cognitive distortion in this statement (pessimistic-catastrophic thinking) and reformulating it by stating something like “Today I have been eating more than I usually do, as that was the optimal way to take care of my needs from what was available to me” can bring more objective lenses to the situation and help restore your emotional balance.

Learning to recognize these cognitive distortions behind the food guilt you may expereince and reframe the questionable statements into a more realistic ones, will aloow you to tune into your internal body wisdom and make food choices based on your unique needs without feeling bad about it.