The food police almost arrested me today.
It’s been quite a while since they’ve come barreling down the street, sirens blaring, to slam open my door. But there they were. In my kitchen. Telling me to put my hands up and back away from the bananas.
“They’re high in carbohydrates!” they screamed.
“You’ve already had one for breakfast. Don’t you DARE take another one in your lunch bag! More than one banana a day is AGAINST THE RULES.”
Their abrupt entrance into my home caught me off guard, and I stopped to second-guess my food decision. This old habit of questioning the moral character of my food had seemingly died off long ago, yet as I stood there I started to mentally pull up the full background check on this banana. My diet brain kicked in, spewing off calories, counting carbohydrates, measuring appropriate serving sizes, calculating grams of guilt. I automatically felt myself shrinking from the confident woman in business slacks, to the lost one slumping under The Diet coat.
Out of sheer strength of practice, the more intuitive, kind part of my brain flexes, and I try reasoning:
“But it’s just a fruit.”
“I already biked this morning and have a long day ahead of me, I need fuel.”
“I was really looking forward to eating this with peanut butter later.”
But with The Diet coat still firmly fixed across my shoulders, the food police don’t listen to reasoning or excuses or truth. Their voices intentionally aim to fill me with guilt, shame, and body image destruction. They are not the peace keepers. They are not the brave heroes. They are the fun-sucking, meticulously Type A, ridiculous-rule-creating assholes.
Again, the intuitive brain flexes and I find a pause.
“Just take a breath,” it calmly whispers.
Deciding I don’t need any more of their BS, I slip the banana into my lunch bag and silently glide out the door, coat falling behind me.
The food police almost arrested me today. But they’ll never catch this outlaw.
Challenging the food police is hard work.
But it is work worth doing.
Sometimes the food police manifest as the voice telling us that we did something “wrong”: picked the wrong food, the wrong time to eat, or the wrong amount. Other times, the food police show up to tell us we did things “right”: avoiding food, ignoring hunger cues, or judging yourself on based on a checklist. We can become stuck in this cycle of choices, basing our self worth on whether or not we heeded to the overbearing voice in our heads of “should.”
It’s no surprise we are this way with our culture’s thinness obsession. The latest diet pops up every few months, with promises of greener grass just on the other side of weight loss. Everyone is a “nutrition expert” thanks to an increased online presence. Companies cleverly market to target our belief that our food choices, exercise regimen, and body shape depict how worthy we are to society, and even to ourselves. Messages on what to do and how to do it (and where to pay) are everywhere.
With these daily reminders it becomes challenging to view eating for what it is – a simple, biological, pleasurable activity. Instead it becomes good or bad, and the food police ensure we tie in our own self worth with each bite. Check in with yourself for a moment and see if any of these food police rules resonate with you:
- I won’t eat anything after ____PM.
- Sweets are bad for you.
- If I don’t log 10,000 steps today, I’m a failure.
- If I skip this meal it will help me lose weight faster.
- I ate ________, so now I need to exercise to burn off the calories.
- I should eat as few carbs as possible to be healthy.
- Weighing yourself every day helps keep you on track.
- Processed foods are bad for you.
- I don’t eat snacks because I don’t need the extra calories.
- I’ve already gone over my calorie goal for the day, so I’ll skip dinner.
These ridiculous rules create a disconnect between our bodies and our intuition, and in fact act as crutches to keep the food police hobbling along beside us. After all, how would we know how much food to eat each day if not for calorie trackers? How much movement or activity to do without a band around our wrist? How to interact with our family and friends without discussing the latest diet or number of pounds lost/gained? By creating lists of good and bad actions, we set ourselves up to be victims of the devices rather than powerful captains of our own lives.
So how do we combat these messages – around us and in our heads?
Tell the food police to f*ck right off, for starters. This comes as a series of steps, involving first discovering where the food police live in your life, what emotions are tied up in their messages, and more intuitive messages you can blow right back in their face. This process takes time, and effort, and the help of an intuitive eating guide. But as you start noticing and eliminating crutches, you’ll start to make space for more valuable tools:
trust and curiosity.
If you can take a moment to just imagine what it might feel like for your intuition to fill in the blanks for which foods and movement, when, and how much, you are already taking the leap.
Challenging the food police is hard work.
But it is worth work doing.
Know the feeling?
You’re not alone, dear friend. Navigating the world of food and dieting is hard, but there is a solution: intuitive eating. By working through the 10 steps, you’ll learn how to ditch the diet mentality (and the food police!), become more in-tune with your body, and build confidence in your ability to deal with stress and appreciate your body for all that it’s worth. When you’re ready to dive in, I’m ready to help.
Schedule your free discovery call today to learn more about finding your Moxie through intuitive eating!
About the Author:
Karlee Golightly, mama to Moxie Mind, specializes in helping you rediscover your most power·full Self. Ditch the diet and learn true satisfaction with food and movement! Through intuitive eating coaching, yoga, and meditation, you will unearth which values give real balance to your life and how to sustain true wellness. As a registered dietitian and registered yoga teacher, she will coach you on living your life with more mindfulness, intention, authenticity, and positivity. Karlee lives in Kansas City, and is available for local in-person or virtual consultations for intuitive eating, sports nutrition, yoga, and meditation!