Have you ever told yourself not to eat after 7 pm or that you should be scooping out the inside of a bagel or using lettuce instead of bread because otherwise it will be too many carbohydrates?
Maybe it sounds more like I know the kids want you to have ice cream with them, but it has too much sugar, you shouldn’t have any.
Or perhaps when you’re speaking to yourself about food it sounds more rebellious like I can’t wait for the kids to go to bed so I can eat all the chocolate in the house!!!
These are examples of the food police, the nutrition informant and the diet rebel.
The three negative food talk voices defined by intuitive eating. Let’s dive into each one.
❌The Food Police
This one many of us know well and probably have a rocky relationship with.
It causes a lot of guilt and food worry and is loaded with judgment. This voice keeps you deep in diet culture and out of touch with internal cues.
👂It often sounds like a lot of restrictions and rules around eating. “I shouldn’t eat this it’s after 7pm. The kitchen is closed.” OR “I shouldn’t eat carbohydrates.” OR “I need to eat my vegetables before I have anything else.”
❌The Nutrition Informant
This voice is friends with the food police. They are often seen working together, hand in hand. 🤝
It’s the, “but is it healthy?” voice. Pretending to be concerned about your health when really, it’s just using the idea of health to keep you dieting. This justification makes it difficult to identify as harmful.
👂It often leaves you feeling a little paralyzed in food decisions because the voice is contradicting your needs. Your need will usually arise first (I’d love some ice cream with my kids) followed by the nutrition informant voice (it’s got too much sugar in it; you shouldn’t have any).
❌The Diet Rebel
Just like the name would imply an angry and determined voice. 😡
The diet rebel voice often results in private food riots and loss of control eating.
👂For mamas, some of the more common ways it shows up are after the kids go to bed, “I’m going to eat all the food I wanted to eat all day (but didn’t)” or maybe it’s more linked to family gatherings and waiting until you get home to eat all the food you want to eat without glares or comments.
🙌 The good news is we can change these voices into helpful, positive food talk.
With the removal of the food police, we can change the nutrition informant and diet rebel into positive food talk voices and add a couple more beneficial voices to the roster.
✅The Nutrition Ally
Converted from the nutrition informant, who’s messages boil down to health = dieting.
Health IS important. I haven’t met one mama who was like, “yeah, I don’t care about my health at all.”
Note: People come from all walks of life with different priorities and values so I’m not saying a mama that doesn’t care about her health doesn’t exist (this is not a challenge) I’m just saying I haven’t met her yet.
Most of the mama’s I chat with say that one of their key motivators to change is to be healthy for themselves and their kids.
As a dietitian I totally support healthy choices AND encourage them.
But here’s the bottom line…
dieting does not equal health
skinny does not equal healthy and
choosing physical health above all else does not typically equal the healthiest version of you.
The key difference between the nutrition informant and the nutrition ally is that there is no food guilt or shame for choosing a food that maybe isn’t the healthier choice because food satisfaction has a lot of influence.
👂It might sound like this, “your kids really want you to have ice cream, there is a lot of sugar in it, how much ice cream do you think would be satisfying?” OR you really enjoy two types of crackers, and you notice that one of them has more fibre. So, you decide to go with that one because you enjoy it AND it’s the better choice for your health.
Do you see the difference between the nutrition informant and the nutrition ally?
💌If you’re having a hard time with this difference, don’t worry it can be a tricky one. Feel free to send me an email and I can try and help you out.
✅The Rebel Ally (every time I say this I think about Arrested Development… IYKYK)
Converts from the diet rebel when the food police is removed. Becomes more internally protective, boundary setting and holds respect for your internal cues and signals.
Guarding these internal cues is so important as you learn to recognize and respond to them.
There are a lot of well-meaning (and sometimes not well-meaning) people out there that are completely wrapped up in diet culture. As you start your personal intuitive eating journey there will be a few boundaries you need to set and be confident in holding.
The rebel ally voice is how you can lean into the discomfort of change and towards protecting what you know about yourself.
👂Focusing on the internal cues and signals instead of the external ones can sound like, “No thank you, I don’t like ice cream with my cake (or something you don’t like)” OR “My body is my business and my kids’ bodies are their business. Please try to avoid body talk around us, there are so many other things we can talk about (and then ask a question)” OR “This was so delicious, thank you. I’m full now but if you’re worried about having too many leftovers, I’d happily take some with me.”
Hello neutral observations!!
If you’ve worked with me, you know I’m a fan of starting with your thoughts to influence behaviours and creating neutral pauses to help you figure out what’s going on.
The food anthropologist embodies this with regards to food talk.
Its nonjudgmental nature is just there to keep you in touch with your inner signals and lets you explore and discover new things about your relationship with food.
👂It might sound like “I ate the kids’ leftovers for breakfast and was ravenous by 10 am” OR “I’ve had only coffee all day and I ate to discomfort at supper” OR “I felt guilty after eating ice cream with my kids.”
Welcome here, self-compassion!
Self-compassion in every area of your life is such a key tool to get you through tough times and food talk is no different.
We live in a world that hurls diet culture messages at us multiple times a day so the food police will likely pop in every now and again to say hey. The nurturer helps you to disarm any of these interactions with the food police, gently and compassionately.
With practice, the nurturer can be cultivated to be the MOST positive self-talk.
👂It could look like, “it’s ok to have ice cream, eating ice cream is normal” OR “I overate to the point of feeling very uncomfortable, was I feeling something that could have made me need more food to comfort myself?” OR “when I meet my needs, I feel great. I’m feeling hungry so I’m going to eat.”
Thanks for reading this introduction to the 7 “voices” of food talk.
Which of the 7 “voices” are the most frequent in your food talk?
Let me know in the comments or send me an email.
Over the next few posts, we’re going to be taking a deeper dive into how to remove the food police, convert the diet rebel and nutrition informant and lastly experience and grow the food anthropologist and the nurturer.
I hope you come along for the ride and enjoy the journey,