Wee ooo wee ooo 🚔
Nope you didn’t just get pulled over for speeding, it’s the Food Police!!
It’s one of the seven voices of food talk (need a reminder about what that is? Click here)
Many of the negative food talk voices get their strength from the Food Police so removing or rejecting it is one of the best ways to make room for the positive food talk voices and finding food freedom.
The food police can show up in many different forms and its main role is monitoring the unreasonable rules that diet culture has created.
What are your food beliefs?
The key defense for challenging the food police is to first develop nonjudgmental awareness and curiosity of your thoughts and then work on defensive statements that are ready to go when a food rule or limiting belief pops up.
What beliefs are the food police monitoring for you?
Do you have thoughts that create conflict for you about food and your body?
Maybe it sounds something like this…
🍖 Protein is the best food group.
🧈 Fats in food make the food fattening and will make me fat.
🧁 People should never eat foods with white flour or sugar.
🍞 Everyone knows that gluten is bad for you.
💃 People must be skinny in order to be successful.
Beliefs are cultivated and influenced by a lot of different factors.
Many mamas I speak with have childhood memories or even adult memories of a family focus on weight and body size.
👩👧👦 A mother might comment on how her child looks and how the child’s clothing fits.
👨👩 A parent may use the scale daily and talk about dieting or all the body parts they wish looked different.
👴👵A grandparent might have concerns about how much food their grandchild is eating.
📖 There may have been magazines in your childhood home full of celebrity photos that have been digitally altered to make their bodies look perfect.
REFLECTION TIME: What is your origin story? Where did your beliefs about your body or eating come from?
What are your cognitive distortions?
Your thoughts are formulated from the set of beliefs you hold about how the world around you works.
The thoughts and rules spoken by the food police are usually cognitive distortions—very strong statements that are based on false beliefs.
If they are not challenged, these negative thoughts can affect many of your behaviors, especially your eating.
Here are some examples of cognitive distortions:
💭 It would be okay to eat fruits and vegetables for carbs – that’s good. But it’s bad to eat bread or pasta.
💭 I don’t deserve to eat any sweet foods today, even if I crave them.
💭 I can’t trust myself around food.
💭 I will never be the perfect mom unless I lose weight and become skinny.
💭 Since I can’t stay on a diet, I must be a failure!
REFLECTION TIME: Do any of these examples sound like thoughts you have had? Have you had other exaggerated thoughts?
Observe your thoughts
The two key ways to remove food police thoughts are:
- non-judgmental curiosity of your thoughts
- challenging the cognitive distortions
The process begins with you observing your thoughts and questioning whether a thought is reasonable.
- Is there any scientific evidence to support your thought?
- Does it sound unjustifiable, unreasonable, and faulty?
Once you have identified an unreasonable or illogical thought, challenge it by replacing it with a logical thought.
There are a couple of thought formations that the Food Police can create. One is building a narrative that’s usually centered around thinness = worthiness and two is creating unreasonable thoughts or cognitive distortions.
The first step to remove Food Police thoughts is to become aware of these thoughts.
Many of us walk around feeling bad about our bodies and our food choices with no idea how we got to this place.
Let’s find out together! 🤝
Our minds habitually take hold of a thought and build a narrative or story around it, which can create unnecessary suffering. (been there, done that)
Through a process of observing your thoughts, without allowing them to occupy your mind and without passing any judgment on them you can achieve a form of mindfulness called curious awareness.
Try to observe your thoughts, without attaching to them or adding to the story line and take note of when you’re expanding your thoughts with a story you’ve created.
“I wish I was thin… My partner might leave me if I can’t lose the baby weight. My life would be so much easier if I could just be thin and stop eating so much. Why do I keep eating so much? I hate myself. Everyone hates me.”
When the same (or similar) root thought arises (anything along the lines of thinness equals worthiness), try to observe it without adding a narrative or judgment.
There are many ways to practice doing this but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Place your awareness on the present moment, rather than the thought.
- Pay attention to one of your senses, such as sight, touch, or sound.
- Simply label the thought as “thinking” or “mere thoughts, not facts.”
- Consider learning and developing a regular meditation practice.
Challenge your thoughts
Once you become aware of the stories that your beautiful mind has started creating for you from diet cultures inputs you can start to challenge the cognitive distortions.
Reflecting on your lived past experiences will help you evaluate whether your present thought has any truth or accuracy and whether it has actually resulted in any benefit to you.
Here is an example of a distorted thought, followed by a reframing of that thought, based on past experience:
Unreasonable thought (aka a cognitive distortion):
💭 It would be okay to eat fruits and vegetables—that’s good. But it’s bad to eat bread or pasta.
Questions to ask:
- Has eating pasta actually, ever harmed me?
- How do I feel when I only eat fruits and vegetables as my carbs?
- Is my satisfaction met when I only eat fruits and vegetables?
Thought reframed, based on past experiences:
- When I only eat fruits and vegetables as my carbohydrates, I’m not able to sustain my energy throughout the day.
- When I only eat fruits and vegetables as my carbohydrates, I have strong cravings for starchier foods at night.
- When I include grains and starches in my meals, I can think more clearly and stay alert throughout the day. Eating only fruits and vegetables doesn’t work for me!
Practice going through the above format with one of your own distorted thoughts or food rules that you think are unreasonable.
A second way you can challenge cognitive distortions or myths is by reframing them with facts.
Here is an example:
⚠ I will never be the perfect mom unless I lose weight and become skinny.
🖼 I have several friends who are amazing moms who are not skinny. P.S. Perfection isn’t a realistic goal. ❤
Again, practice this with some of your own food police thoughts that keep you stuck in diet culture.
Try out all the methods above and see what works for you. Depending on your own situation one method may be more useful than another.
By becoming aware of the narratives related to diet culture and body image and reframing your thoughts based on past eating experiences in combination with making statements based on facts, you can challenge an unreasonable thought and work to remove the food police.
With kindness and compassion,