There is a good chance that you have should’s and shouldn’t, do’s and don’ts, and a myriad of voices in your head telling you what to think when it comes to what you are putting in your mouth. The negative thoughts that come out regarding all of the rules you have around food are not serving you, but don’t worry, there is another way.
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How To Respond To These Food Police Tendencies With Purpose
When you internalize foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, you can wind up creating emotions and actions that are not in line with how you truly want to feel about food. Instead of perpetuating the behaviors, you are trying to stop, intuitive eating can help you become aware of the voices in your head and show you how to respond to these food police tendencies with purpose.
By developing a more flexible way of thinking you can start to be kinder to yourself and make peace with the food stories you may have been telling yourself for years. Are you ready to stop using negativity as your motivator and start to challenge the food police? Share how you are working towards intuitive eating in the comments below.
On Today’s Episode
- Why challenging the voices in your head when it comes to food is essential (4:20)
- How the moralizing of food can negatively impact your relationship with it (13:10)
- Tips for developing flexibility when it comes to your mental framework (17:15)
- Ways to develop new internal voices such as the food anthropologist or nurturer (20:20)
- Exercises to help you reframe your thoughts to become aware of your inner dialogue (29:14)
Resources Mentioned In This Show
“Intuitive eating takes time, it is something you put into practice.” (3:26)
“You are not broken if this happens. You are not broken if your appetite is all of a sudden ravenous after a day of not eating. You are not broken, this is how your body works!” (15:05)
“It is really important to start paying attention to the language that you use and understanding the thoughts and the beliefs that you have been living by… you have to get clear or develop that sense of awareness because you can’t change what you are not aware of.” (16:54)
“It’s knowing that the way you are going to make progress and find more peace with this is not by being harsh on yourself.” (22:54)
“If you are constantly saying ‘always’ and ‘never’, you are going to the worst of the worst place all the time. And that is a huge opportunity for you to be able to reframe.” (29:24)
Food Police (Intuitive Eating Principle #4) FULL TRANSCRIPT
This is Episode 293 of the Listen To Your Body podcast. On today’s episode, I’m going to be covering how to shut up all of the voices in your head that run their mouth when it comes to what you’re putting in your mouth.
The next evolution of Harder To Kill Radio is here. Welcome to the Listen To Your Body podcast & on this show, we’ll explore the intersection of body, mind, and soul health, and help you reclaim your abilities to eat and move more intuitively, hear your body’s signals, and trust yourself more deeply.
I’m Steph Gaudreau, a certified intuitive eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner, and strength coach. On this podcast, you can expect to hear expert guest interviews and solo chats that will help you deepen your trust with food movement and your body. Remember to hit the subscribe button and share this podcast with your friends and loved ones. Now, on to the show.
Hello, hello, welcome back to the show. Thank you so much for tuning in to this week’s episode of the podcast. I really appreciate that you’re here I know that you have a lot of things going on in your life, so it really means a lot that you’re spending your half-hour with me here today. Today on the show, we’re going to be covering principle number four of intuitive eating. This is the fourth obviously. Captain Obvious, thanks for that. The fourth installment in the series that I’m running over, you know the next few months, couple months all about the principles of the intuitive eating framework, so that you can better understand what this framework is about.
Because there’s a lot of nuances, there is a lot of stuff that you may have to apply to your life or just let the concepts breathe a little bit. It is something that when I work with my clients, we’re talking about exploring these topics and these concepts over months. And I wanted to put together a series for you where you could dip into a couple of episodes at a time. And so you’re going to find that the podcasts in this particular mini-series are sprinkled in between with guest interviews. And that’s really done for a very specific reason it is to let you explore those principles in your own life without just saying, Yeah, yeah, give me the 10 principles. And here’s my checklist of intuitive eating I tried it for a week and it didn’t work. It’s not gonna work that way.
That’s not how it works. So I know I’ve heard from lots of people that say, you know, I’ve tried intuitive eating for a week, and it didn’t work. So now I’m back to my restricted ways of eating. And I say this with the most love and compassion I can muster. It’s not how it works. intuitive eating takes time, it is something you put into practice. I know so many folks who do yoga, and they are very comfortable with yoga as a practice. So just like meditation, or playing the guitar, or knitting or whatever it is, you know, it’s a practice and are very accepting of that. But then when it comes to food, we think I have to get it right the first time. And if I didn’t, I’m a failure. Instead of saying, you know what, this fucked up diet culture system that we have is the failure and I wasn’t even aware and conscious of it. Until now.
So let me choose something different. And I’m going to have to learn something new after having been socialized in this system for the last 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years, and beyond.
So please give yourself compassion and grace in this process. Principle number four is officially called challenging the food police. But really, I think about it, like challenging all the voices in your head that tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. When it comes to food. They are the voices that you have internalized. Oftentimes, without your own awareness. It’s kind of unconscious. We soak it up or somebody set it to us, and it just becomes our truth.
And this is really about developing more flexible thinking. We probably said this, I say you, you and me. We will probably explore this at the very beginning of this series, the idea that we’re going to be challenging our thinking, and that when we have a framework, a mental framework for the foods that make us feel really good in our decision making around food, that’s great. It’s not a bad thing. But if we break that framework, what happens? I talked in the last episode about the fuck it all spiral of eating, or like, I won so I might as well eat the whole cake. Because I’m bad, right? And we talked about that thinking, that rigidity of thinking, not being helpful to us. So that’s what I’m going to cover today.
And of course, if you haven’t listened to the previous three episodes, you may want to pause this particular one and go back and listen to Episodes 288 & 289 & 292 because those are the first three principles. Also, a couple of things before we jump in first, please hit the subscribe button on your podcast app that really helps new people to discover the show, because it sends a, it’s almost like sending a bow in and saying, I like this show and the algorithms who knows how they exactly work, but it’s one of the ways we think that shows get shown to new people on the different charts and searches and things like that is when you subscribe. So that’s one number two. If you like this particular episode, share it on Instagram tag be at Steph_Gaudreau just start typing in G.A.U. it’ll come up I promise. I know how the last name with a lot. A lot in class name with a lot of vowels. Very French Canadian. So tag me I want to know what popped for you. What was interesting? What stood out give you an aha moment a light bulb moment? Or send me a direct message. I know sometimes talking about this stuff publicly can feel a little bit scary. So if there was something that really clicked for you send me a DM I would love to hear what that is. And then the last thing is to join the Listen To Your Body newsletter. This is my newsletter specifically dedicated to topics just like this body neutrality, intuitive eating, finding a more peaceful way of existing with food and your body and so much more including when I’m opening up my membership for enrollment the next time other opportunities to work with me, etc. So you can do that at StephGaudreau.com/LTYB for listen to your body.
Alright, here we go.
So again, this principle is officially called challenging the food police. It is really chances are, you know, here’s what I’m going to ask you to do. Just like we did in the last episode. In the last episode, I asked you to kind of pause and write down all the foods that you don’t let yourself eat. What I’d like you to do is a little thought experiment and that is to pause this episode momentarily. Maybe give yourself five minutes or three minutes and write down all of the shoulds and shouldn’t do’s and don’ts, yeses and noes, bad and goods that you have in your brain floating around out there in the ether when it comes to food.
So again, oh, the shoulds shouldn’t good Bad’s rights and wrongs, good do’s and don’ts that you have floating around in that noggin of yours when it comes to food. So you can pause and do that now.
All right, you’re back. What did you discover?
I’m guessing you discovered a lot of brain junk in your head around food. And that is especially negative thoughts that come up regarding all of the rules. Oh my goodness gracious. We are so full of rules when it comes to food. And here’s where it gets a little bit bananas is that if you have hopped from diet to diet, lifestyle, the lifestyle plan to plan over the years. Many of these rules, these voices, these shoulds insurance do’s and don’ts, the yeses and noes are going to be conflicting.
And this is one of the common archetypes of folks that come to work with me and my coaching. Our folks who are so utterly confused about what to eat. And you know what? No fucking wonder. It’s not your fault, right? There’s so many rules that we internalize. And then we, they play like a tape in our head, right? Every time we go to pick up food, we’re thinking, Oh, I’m not supposed to eat that this is bad for me. This is an off-limits food, I shouldn’t eat this, or I shouldn’t eat this in this particular way. In fact, just last night on Instagram, I asked a series of questions. And the first question was do all the diets and lifestyle plans out there leave you confused about what to eat? 63% of folks who answered said Yes, they are. Makes them confused. So there is a lot to unpack here about these voices. The voices of, as Evelyn and Elise call it, the food police that are oftentimes rattling around iIn your head, and they just confused the shit out of you, right? You shouldn’t eat carbs after 6 pm. I mean, come on, right? We’ve all heard that. Carbs make you gain weight, or bread is bad for you. Or you should never eat a meal before a certain time in the day or whatever these rules are, right? anything, any kind of sugar is horrible for you and is going to give you chronic illness.
I mean, unfortunately, there is, especially if you’re a really black and white thinker. Especially if you have perfectionistic tendencies. These rules while well like there could be shades of nuance in some of these things that you then end up adopting as the internal voice. And some of them are complete garbage, let’s just be real about that. It’s almost like a bad game of telephone, in some cases where something was said, and then it just becomes distorted. And then it’s repeated over and over again. And then you oftentimes don’t realize that you are making choices in your life based on that statement.
You make it true. And oftentimes, this is not done really consciously. Or if it is, it’s really because we believe that it is the truth, right? Or we’ve seen it a certain number of times, or somebody in a position of authority told us that this is what we should do. So there’s a couple of different aspects here. The first and I’ve talked about this is the moralizing of food, the good and the bad.
And yes, I’m a nutritional therapy practitioner. I get this. No hate mail, okay. Different food has different amounts of energy, right? Calories. Different foods have different calorie counts, different foods have different nutrient values, different foods may affect our blood sugar in different ways. We’re not denying that, right, that’s just a piece of it. Intuitive eating is evidence-based and there is a whole principle about nutrition. So if you’re hearing this for the first time, and you’re like, you’re making it out to seem like you know, a candy bar is the same as a carrot. I don’t think anybody is going to make that claim, that we make the carrot good, and the candy bar bad.
The problem is just like I talked about in the last episode when we’re like I can never have. I also know people that believe that they shouldn’t eat carrots because carrots have too much sugar, should you not? I used to do even Weight Watchers, right? Weight Watchers carrots used to be a higher point value than broccoli, for example, because carrots have more carbohydrates. So this is the level of my new show and analysis that’s being put into it. I mean, that’s a whole side tangent I’m not going to go into but when we give ourselves we don’t give ourselves permission to ever eat the candy bar, especially if we’re a person who has those tendencies that when we deprive our cravings get really amplified, which is a normal response. You are not broken. If this happens, you are not broken. If your appetite is all of a sudden, right after a day of not eating, it’s you’re not broken. This is your body. This is how your body works.
But when you make that food off-limits, then oftentimes it ends up becoming an over-eating situation. So we have a lot of morality that is wound into food. This is good, this is bad. It’s better to eat this, don’t eat that. And the, I mentioned this in the last episode as well, when we have that belief, this food is good that food is bad. There is a level of internalization that often occurs such that if I eat that bad food, I am then bad. The guilt comes in. And then when we have that thought or that belief that causes us to feel a certain way. And those feelings drive our actions TLDR which if you don’t know too long didn’t read. So the way to summarize things, the TLDR on that one is that moralizing food in that way oftentimes perpetuates these voices and our struggles with food in general. So if you’re feeling confused, or you feel like these rules are conflicting, or you just can’t seem to make your way out of the haze with this stuff, it’s really important to start paying attention to the language that you used and understanding the thoughts and the beliefs that you have been living by, which is why I asked you to do that exercise at the top of the episode where you just got super Eastern mass there for a minute. You, you have to get clear or develop that sense of awareness because you can’t change what you’re not aware of. The other issue with these voices is when they become theirs.
There’s a dichotomy, right? the good and the bad, there’s no wiggle room in between or the, you know, never eat this kind of a rule, which is a very rigid way of thinking and I said earlier, we’re really trying to help people with this framework developed more flexibility. Because when the belief is you shouldn’t eat any food that has added sugar, for example. The belief then is that that’s bad. And there’s oftentimes a compensatory response. Such as you cut out all of the food you’re like, Oh, I eat this food with a has added sugar. You believe that you’re bad for doing it and that shapes, your choices, or you think I should cut everything out. I need to go do that plan where I’m not eating any more sugar ever again. And I literally know that some of you out there are living this way where you’re afraid of, you’re afraid of certain things and food and that is a whole other conversation. I’m not trying to downplay that and say, you know, it can feel very real. And it is very real, if it’s how you end up acting, right? It’s how you end up making your decisions. But when those that dichotomy is there, right, the good and the bad or should never eat this becomes a really strict rule it becomes very inflexible.
If you break the rule or if you break that, that way of setting food up, you know, this was good, I should only eat this that foods bad I should never eat that. It then causes either worry, guilt, shame, restriction, which can then lead to overeating and so on and so forth. So you can see how this can perpetuate the behavior that you’re trying to actually stop.
So there’s a lot in this principle that goes into learning how to be aware of the voices in your head, and learning how to respond to it. One of the ways is just to get really kind of factual about what you did. And this is called in the book is called the food anthropologist, which is the voice that you can develop to be really factual instead of judgmental because oftentimes, there, especially if we ate the thing, we said, we shouldn’t or we aren’t supposed to or it’s bad. Then what we do is we assign a judgment to it. And that judgment, that belief that you know, carries that feeling in us that right, I’m a failure or I’m frustrated.
Whatever it is, which then can cause us to respond accordingly. For example, feeling guilty, feeling shameful, deciding to eat the whole bag because we already fucked it up, so on and so forth. So the food anthropologist is one of the voices that you’re just speaking a matter of factly. So instead of saying, I ate half a bag of Twizzlers, and I’m a horrible person because I did it.
We would just say, I eat half a bag of Twizzlers, right. So you’re just saying the facts, or you’re just saying, now My stomach hurts. That’s a fact. It’s not a moral judgment on your character by saying I’m bad, or I’m a failure, or I’m never going to get this right. It’s just stating the facts another voice that you can work on developing is called the nurturer. This is really the self compassionate voice. And for a lot of people, this is the hardest because they have learned that the way they’re supposed to make progress is by talking harshly to themselves, saying mean things. Because if they’re mean enough to themselves, then they’ll finally want to change. Now, this is not the same as getting fed up and just saying, I’m done. I can certainly happen.
But the self-compassionate voice is challenging for that reason because people feel like I don’t deserve to be kind to myself. And I’m here to tell you, dear listener, that you have to be kind to yourself. being kind to yourself doesn’t mean you’ve given up and it doesn’t mean that you’re going to take that as an excuse for completely doing all the things you don’t actually want to do saying, you know, well, Hey, you know what you ate that you were frustrated? What can you learn from this? It’s okay. This will pass.
You know, you’ve had a stressful week. It’s been hard. It’s okay to eat more than you planned. You know, what are the positive things that are happening? No, it may not be perfect, but I’m learning to be more in touch with my own hunger signals, for example, or I’m exploring. This week I explored a food that I wanted to make peace with. I mean, it’s really that gentle voice. It’s knowing that the way you’re going to make progress and find more peace with this is not for being harsh with yourself. And so there are also other voices like the intuitive eater which uses really, I mean, intuitive eating is all about using the internal signals and meshing that with all the external things that you know, and finding that really middle ground, right? Finding your own version of what makes sense for your using logic, using emotion using your instinct and your body signals, for example.
So being able to respond to these voices really is challenging if you’re used to speaking harshly to yourself, or you’re unconsciously, and I mean, you’re not aware of it, right? You’re unconsciously using the language, the words or you’re thinking thoughts that are very inflexible. So there’s a lot of different examples of this. But the more inflexible your thinking is, the harder this piece is going to be in, the more I challenge you to lean into these conversations because When you have the brain junk going on, it’s really important to say, to get curious about these things, you know, what are? Am I having the same? recurring, challenging feelings, right? The same things that keep popping up for me, I keep struggling. Notice where you say you’re struggling. If you’re keep saying you keep saying I’m struggling with this, I’m struggling with that notice those. Notice that what is that? What is it about it? Get curious!
What are the thoughts that I’m having around that? What are the thoughts? What is thinking that’s going on? In my head? or What am I saying to myself? Is there anything about this? That’s true, and if it’s not true, notice that because again, it can become habitual and we think about it’s actually true. Byron Katie’s work is another way to explore that. And how did those thoughts make me feel? And when I feel that way, what is the outcome? Right when I feel like I’ve when I feel sad that I ate this cookie or I’m disappointed in myself that I eat this cookie then what happens?
The feeling often will drive the resulting behavior right, which is for a lot of folks, they feel like again that fuck it all spiral of well, I already fucked this up. I might as well eat the whole back. So it’s really crucial to start getting curious and being open-minded about what are the thoughts that I’m having? What are the beliefs that keep reoccurring? What are the feelings I keep experiencing CV seeing if you can trace those back and noticing when those feelings are in a certain place, what do you do as a result?
That’s so very important. And if the thinking that you’re having is very rigid, is very black and white, for example, or the type of thinking that’s very exaggerated, so you’re going to want to look for words like never, always, or other things like this will never say never, this will never work. This is pointless. This is hopeless. This always happens to me. I’m never going to get this right. I keep failing all the time. Get keyed into those words. And if you notice them, come up, stop yourself and say, is this really happening? Is this really true? One of my coaches and she’s been on this show Allegra Stein who I’ve worked with over the years, we were having a conversation once and it was about somebody had, I sent an email. This is many years ago, but I sent an email and a couple of people had written back to me and we’re feeling some sort of way about it. And I got on a call with her and just said, Everybody is mad about this. And she stuff. How many people? Is everybody? like half literally how many people are we talking about?
I think I sat there. And I realized right away what she was asking me and I said to him, we had a chat about that, right? That was an example of exaggerated thinking where I was like, Oh, so right when I had that thought that everyone was mad. The feeling that came from it was a disappointment. Shame, feeling just really horrible, right? It felt really horrible. I felt really upset. And when that happened it for me right, it started to actually trigger another thought loop, which was now everything else is shit. But the result of that was I wasn’t able to see or discounted the people who actually wrote to me and said yes, right on I really agree with you. And I actually wasn’t able to stop and truly hear what they were saying.
Was there validity to what they were saying, could I have done something differently? Could I have said something different? Could I have expressed myself in a different way? In fact, was I wrong? Was there an opportunity to change something? I’m not saying I have to do that for every single time somebody disagrees with me. But when I sort of shut down, I lost that ability to stay open to learning from the experience.
So it’s worth investigating if you’re, if you’re constantly saying always never right, you’re going to the worst of the worst place all the time. That’s a huge opportunity for you to be able to reframe. And so the last piece of this today is learning to use thought reframes. And I go over this a lot in my coaching, but reframing the thoughts that you do have if you can, once you catch them, because that’s the challenge is when you’re becoming aware of this, and this is new for you. You oftentimes don’t catch it until after the fact, sometimes, much later.
So it’s, it’s a, it’s a very powerful exercise to take yourself through the reframing through the example of making your thoughts more flexible, of going through the process of saying, well, this might also be this could be an outcome. I don’t know, for example, a lot of people will say if I eat this, I’m going to gain five pounds. Or if I eat this, I’m not going to be able to stop. What are some other possible outcomes? I could eat this and my weight won’t change at all. Or I could eat this and I have a couple of bites and it’s not appealing to me anymore. Or I don’t. I decided I don’t want it right now because I know it’s always available to me.
So there are a lot of ways to reframe. And I would encourage you to consider that exercise it at first feels really robotic. Like oh my gosh, I’m sitting here and this is like pedantic. Why am I doing this and it already happened and it’s not going to help. But it really is going to help you build that muscle. Build up flexible thinking so that you can shut up all those voices in your head that are telling you what’s right and wrong and you can start listening to the more factual, the more intuitive, the more caring voices that are going to help you make progress.
There we go. That is our episode today. For intuitive eating principle #4. I forgot to tell you in the last episode, if you want the show notes for this episode, go to my website, StephGaudreau.com. We always do a full transcript, we’ll put links and so on and so forth. So you can do that at any time. Make sure you share this episode out or send me a direct message to me at Steph_Gaudreau on Instagram and hit the subscribe button. It really does help spread the word about this show. All right, there we go. That’s a wrap. Stay tuned for next week’s episode we’re gonna be bringing in an incredible guest I know you’re going to love and until then be well.