Sometimes it’s difficult to shut up the “food police” (i.e. the voice that is judge and jury about what you should and should not eat). During a recent intuitive eating group, participants came up with statements from their own food police and we practiced coming up with alternative statements.
Alternative statements come from what Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch call your “Ally Voices.” These voices come from a place of self-compassion, curiosity, and body kindness. When recovering from eating disorders or chronic dieting, it’s essential to practice employing your ally voices. At first, it may take hiring a nutritionist, therapist, and other recovery team members to help with this task.
I’m including the list of policing statements below, so you can try your hand at coming up with alternatives first. Following that I’m going to include a list of 28 ways to tell diet culture to shove it. If you get discouraged, don’t worry. It can take time and practice to shut up the food police after years of diet culture conditioning.
Food Police Statements:
- You don’t deserve new clothes that fit.
- Your belly is too big and gross.
- One sweet snack per week.
- You can never have this food again after this…so better get as much as you can now!
- Eating meat makes you a terrible person.
- You are never going to get hungry again.
- You can’t trust your hunger cues.
- You’re really going to regret this week when your pants don’t fit.
- Don’t eat too much bread before the meal comes or you’ll regret it.
- That’s too much (insert food)!
- You’re going to gain weight if you eat that.
- You know, fettucini alfredo is really one of the worst possible things you could eat. So unhealthy.
- You haven’t eaten any fruit or vegetables. You’re going to be so unhealthy.
- The research shows that losing even 5% of your body weight can have more positive health outcomes.
- My body deserves kindness and comfort.
- Research shows that self-kindness and compassion increases health promoting behaviors. Punishing myself with discomfort isn’t going to help me want to pursue health.
- Berating myself hasn’t worked in the past. I need to try kindness instead.
- My belly is here and I don’t have to like it, but I DO have to take care of it.
- Bellies come in all different shapes and sizes.
- Bodies change over time. I don’t have to like my body but I do need to respect it for my long-term health and wellbeing.
- Me criticizing myself over my belly means I still have some internalized fat phobia to deal with. Fuck diet culture!
- Deprivation of things I want to eat actually leads to more overeating, binge eating, and sneaking foods.
- Food rules are restrictive. Restriction makes foods have higher reward value. I think I’ll eat what I want and practice intuitive eating.
- I can eat this whenever I want.
- I give myself unconditional permission to eat this food.
- I’m going to trust the process of intuitive eating even if it’s super scary right now.
- Eating meat doesn’t make someone wrong or bad. I need to look deeper at my food choices to see if these kinds of black-and-white statements come from a restrictive place.
- I know that I will get hungry again because evidence from the past says that usually happens.
- Even if I don’t fully trust my hunger cues, it’s going to take some trust and practice.
- There are lots of reasons why people lose track of hunger cues and a main cause is continuing to listen to external rules instead of my body.
(Side note about anorexia and hunger cues: If you’ve had anorexia or a not-quite-diagnosable restrictive eating disorder, it’s VERY important to work with a trained eating disorders nutritionist and therapist around hunger/fullness. Anorexia and extreme restriction can cause you to lose hunger signals, so your body may not tell you you’re hungry even if it’s literally starving.)
- If my pants don’t fit quite right, it could be for any number of reasons, not just because of body weight fluctuations.
- I can wear other outfits besides pants as my body changes and figures out this intuitive eating thing.
- My body is adjusting. That doesn’t mean I need to be more mean…it means I need to be MORE KIND to myself.
- Just because diet culture tells me this is too much food, that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong portion size for me.
- Looking back on my day, I’m just having a more hungry day.
- Depriving myself of a food I really enjoy is just going to make me hunt for snacks later to make up for not feeling satisfied.
- One meal and eating for satisfaction is not going to make or break my weight. Plus, worries about weight are actually fat phobic diet culture messages.
- Right now, I’m figuring out what my body wants. Fruits and vegetables aren’t really what I’m craving, but that doesn’t mean I won’t want them another time.
- Just because I didn’t eat fruits and vegetables doesn’t mean I’m unhealthy in the long term.
- Food intake is about the law of averages.
- Spending my time trying to lose 5% of my weight causes more stress and harm with weight stigma, restriction, and focus on weight/diets. The stress counters any supposed “health” benefit.
- Where did that research come from? Is it actually true? What would HAES research suggest?
How was that?
Some more challenging than others?
If you had trouble, it’s not the end of the world AND it makes sense. Diet culture is a shame machine. It feeds those food police with negative, shaming comments making it harder for our brains to come up with positive, kind statements.
Practice makes a world of difference. When you do the work of practicing this stuff every. damn. day. you change how your brain operates.
You are literally changing your programming to be able to say “Shut up!” to the food police and diet culture.
Good luck and feel free to suggest positive, self-affirming statements in the comments below!