Our culture has created a series of normative food rules. We all know the rules. Cake and burgers are bad. Broccoli and fish are good. The food police is the internal monitor of everything we put in our mouths. It labels what we eat as "bad" (DON'T EAT!) or "good" (EAT!)."
Here ares some examples of what the food police might be saying to you.
Bread & pasta make you fat.
Eating after 6 PM makes you gain weight.
Gluten is bad for you.
Don't eat any dessert, sugar is unhealthy.
According to The Intuitive Eating Workbook by Tribole & Resch, foods are often described in moralistic terms: decadent, sinful, tempting, or bad. This way of viewing food has become a false religion and worship. Dieting has become the absolving ritual for removing the guilt of eating pleasurable foods.
As we demonize certain foods, guilt, shame, and excessive criticism show up when we eat or overeat these foods. Guilt can lead to punishment in the form of binging or excessive dieting.
We have learned to demonize all sorts of food!
Why have we given the food police so much power? What are their credentials? Are they qualified to make these judgments? Challenge your food rules and fire the food police.
Challenge your food rules and fire the food police!
First, dig deep to where your food beliefs came from. Our food rules don't appear out of thin air. They are formed over a lifetime by our family, culture, and environment.
Next, notice when the food police shows up most. What food judgments are they making? What statements are they saying to you?
Then, engage the food police. Ask the police, What are you trying to accomplish? What's your mission?
Finally, reframe your food rules. For example, if your food police says, carbs make you fat, tell yourself instead, when I don't have enough carbs, it's hard to do physical activity or overeating carbs make me feel bloated.
Not allowing the food label to spiral you down a road of guilt, shame, and extreme criticism is important to avoid the all-to-common punishment of binging or excessive dieting.
I try eat a chocolate croissant or pastry once a week at one of the amazing cafes in Buenos Aires. Most people would categorize chocolate croissants as a "bad" food. I say, most people are misguided! I enjoy and celebrate my croissant every week. No guilt, just pure joy! Food should be enjoyed and celebrated. It should not lead to anxiety and guilt and harmful habits.
Here is some sound advice from food guru, chef, author, and human, Julia Child.
Sample a little bit of everything.
These are the secrets of happiness and good health.
Don't let the food police have any more power. Fight back! Understand your food rules and where they come from, check the data, and then reframe your beliefs.