F*ck tha {Food} Police

SLAY RIRI, SLAY

SLAY RIRI, SLAY

When I started to notice the Food Police in my own head and in other's comments, all I could think of was the song F*ck tha Police from Straight Outta Compton.

Okay, I'm far from coming straight out of Compton, but I am most definitely straight out of Diet Mentality. After reading Intuitive Eating (thank you Hungry Haley for inspiring me!) and listening to lots of Food Psych, my world has been flipped. Yes that sounds dramatic, but it's true. I was steeped real deep in Diet Culture and I'm slowly makin' my way out. 

Me seeing past 'clean eating' like

Me seeing past 'clean eating' like

So what is the Food Police? The Food Police is the voice inside your head that tells you what and what not to eat, it moralizes foods, and almost always leads to rebellion later on.

Think about when you're told not to do something. Here, we'll try a little example. Don't think of your mom crowd-surfing at Firefly in her heart-shaped glasses. So uncomfortable, I know. But did you think of it? When our brain is told not to do something, we do it. This is seen with babies too. They could have all the toys in front of them, but once you take your phone away and tell them they can't have it, they'll cry until they get it back regardless of the other toys they have.

Even though we'd like to think we're way smarter than babies, it is no different with us adults. We tell ourselves to not forget to bring something to work. What do we do? We almost always forget. Our subconscious doesn't understand "don't." How often do you use "don't" when it comes to what you eat? Here are a few examples of rules my inner Food Police used to enforce.

 

Examples of Rules I gave myself about wellness:

  • Bread and grains are super inflammatory, don't eat them.
  • Dairy is not necessary for the human diet, do not consume.
  • For cell regeneration, follow the "12 hour fast" each night, so do not eat past 7pm.
  • Granola bars are full of sugar, don't eat.
  • Legumes, tomatoes, and other lectin filled foods are inflammatory, don't use them in recipes.
  • Don't eat more than 3 meals and 1 snack each day.
  • Choose food options that are less in calories even though you don't want or crave them
  • If you have a carb at breakfast, you reached your "limit" for the day.
  • Nothing high in sugar or sweet late in the afternoon/night.
  • If it tastes good, there must be a reason (ex: high in sugar).
     

HOLY MOLY. I'm embarrassed writing these out because I sounded like a no-fun-Sally, or like some kind of martyr! But before, this was just the norm and the sad thing is, I didn't think I was being restrictive at all. I thought I was just treating my body right and living a holistic "wellness" lifestyle.

Yes, eating well is definitely a form of self respect. Eating cake all day will probably make you feel crappy and that's not good either. Nourishing, quality foods are great, it's just when you start sacrificing the pleasure you get from eating food, or become a "prisoner" to these food rules, is when it becomes unhealthy.

When we tell ourselves "don't eat that", we may be able to restrain ourselves for a little, but we will always end up wanting this forbidden food later on. Do you not keep sweets in the house because if you had one, you wouldn't be able to stop and have the whole container? It's amazing when you start to allow yourself to have these foods unconditionally, you may learn that you don't actually enjoy them as much as you thought, or you get bored of them very quickly, or you'll know that they'll be up-for-grabs later so you don't need to eat them all now.

So true right? When we restrict all day and follow our Food Police to stay "good," we will later rebel. Lots of us will do this at night after a day of restricting and not honoring cravings. 

So true right? When we restrict all day and follow our Food Police to stay "good," we will later rebel. Lots of us will do this at night after a day of restricting and not honoring cravings. 

Have you ever just said SCREW IT and ate the whole ice cream container since you already "were bad" and had a little? Our minds will go into scarcity mode because we think this ice cream will be off limits later, starting in the morning, or when we go back on that diet, so we'll eat as much as we can now (also known as The Last Supper effect). Being gentle with ourselves, letting ourselves have a little because that's what we're craving at the moment and knowing that if we want some later or the next day, we can have some free us of this mindset. I've found that I usually don't even crave any more later on, but allowing myself the option stops me from binging all at once.

As much as we can act as the Food Police ourselves, you may have people in your life that serve as the Food Police as well.

 

Other's Food Policing Comments:

  • Oh a second cookie? Didn't you have one earlier?
  • You're eating grains? I gave that up last year and feel great! I'm never having them again.
  • *As I'm pouring store-bought almond milk* Oh I never buy it from the store. So many additives! Did you know some have cancer-causing carrageenan? (this actually happened recently)
  • Woah how did you eat all of that? There was so much.
  • Are you sure you want to order that? There's a lot of sugar, there's a lot of fat, etc.
  • Comments on Instagram saying "wow carb overload much?"
  • Sometimes you don't need any words at all. Sometimes constant glares and looks to your plate can send the same message.

*reference Rihanna's picture above to see how I feel when people comment on what I eat.

Yes, I'm definitely overly sensitive to these comments but they really grind my gears! I would never tell someone to wear their jeans differently, or that their haircut just isn't quite right, so why do people think commenting on what we eat is normal? As someone who used to be healthy via external information (eg: what works for Dave Asprey, what I hear on Stephen Cabral's podcast, what works for friends, or what is on Kayla Itsines' meal plan, etc.), I now rely on my internal cues and signals from my own body. This makes it easier to just lol when someone feels the need to control what I eat, but they can still be frustrating.
 

Now What?

I highly suggest writing or typing out food rules you may be following yourself. I didn't realize how many I was following until I started to write the list out above. Once I wrote one, the rest kept coming and I was surprised at the amount. Plus, writing them out and seeing them all together makes them seem that much more irrational.

Simply notice when these thoughts come across your mind. As you eat a cookie, do you think you ruined your day of "clean eating?" Acknowledge it, and be compassionate instead of harsh with yourself. Use words that you would with a friend. I sometimes catch myself using mean-girl self-talk that I would never EVER say to anyone else, so why do I use it with myself?

 

Yes, I'm still in rebellion

Even though I'm still an anti-diet intuitive eating noob, I don't think anyone will ever be fully absolved from some of these thoughts, especially living in our culture full of diets and thin beauty standards. Like I said before, we will probably still have some of these thoughts depending on how long we have been immersed in dieting and clean eating, so it is more important to focus on how you react to them instead of focusing on not having them at all.

For example, the other day I had breakfast and lunch and found myself really hungry by about 3 pm. Like meal hungry, nothing a hardboiled egg would fix. Without noticing, my Food Police quickly said there's no way you should be hungry, you just had lunch! Dinner time is about 5pm and on, you should wait until then to eat. I caught myself and trusted my body instead of listening to this gibberish and had my dinner at 3pm. Pasta, sausage, and broccoli in ghee. Nothing skimpy here. I then had something small later on at night and found myself completely content! If I would have waited until "dinner time" to have my meal, I would have probably ate wayyy more than needed because I would have been in hangry savage mode (a technical term).

To anyone who is really in tune with their hunger cues and not heavily steeped in diet culture, you might be like, uh, DUH. Eat when you're hungry, this is primal stuff, people! But it can be hard and sometimes simply hearing that you are allowed to eat when you are hungry is so validating and freeing. 

So I challenge you all to notice what food choices your inner Food Police is dictating. Acknowledge them, but dig deeper and listen to your body, not what you read on some clean eating blog. Of course, I'm not a specialist, and this information should be taken with a grain of salt. I highly suggest reading Intuitive Eating if any of this resonated with you.