Day 4 - Challenging the Food Police

Today I'm going to teach you how to deal with the interminable voices in your head...the ones that beat you up, force you to follow made-up rules, and - occasionally - encourage you to throw all caution to the wind and eat an entire cake, when one slice would have been great.

But first! How was yesterday? Did you make eternal peace with food? Are you the Buddha of breakfast, lunch, and dinner? The Dalai Lama of dessert?

oh, thank god, if it was that easy I'd be out of a job.
Sh*t. Did I say that out loud?

Oops! I just swore. Double sh*t.

Seriously though, making peace with food is a really long and tough part of this process. It's perfectly normal for it to take months. Were you able to eat ANYTHING normally on your no-no list?
If so, that's a win.

The deprogramming that needs to happen in order to repair your relationship with food can be epic. It's important to celebrate all the baby steps along the, pat on the back.

As the fabulous Brene Brown (and Teddy Roosevelt:) would say "you're in the arena".
And for that you should be proud.

Day 4 - Challenging the Food Police

"The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created". - Tribole & Resch

You gather these rules from all over the place: books, magazines, tv and movies, your friends, your teachers, your doctors..the list goes on. You hang on to small snippets of the nutritional information you absorb (often our of context) and these beliefs become so deeply ingrained that, even in the face of TONS of information to refute these rules, your brain wants hang on to them. Your brain will live and die by the rules it thinks will make you thinner and morally superior. These rules dictate when you are GOOD (you ate under 1200 calories today! yay!) or BAD (you ate something with sugar in it! Boo.).

These rules are often VERY difficult to live by in a human body that is ever changing with demanding lives that are also constantly changing - and so typically, at some point, you have to break your own rules and you are left feeling BAD. Like YOU screwed up. You Failed. Like you have no will power.

Examples of food rules:

  • Salad dressing makes you fat.
  • Avocados are high in fat, so they are terrible for your cholesterol
  • Put coconut oil on and in everything, it will make you Wonder Woman
  • Red meat will kill you
  • You should fast!
  • Fasting will break your metabolism
  • Too much fruit is high in sugar. It's bad
  • Eating after 7pm will make you fat
  • Carbs make you fat
  • Fat makes you fat
  • Everything in life makes you fat. LIVE IN FEAR!!!
  • "Light" = virtuous
  • You should only eat 3 square meals a day, no snacks
  • You should definitely eat 5 times a day
  • You should eat every two hours
  • You should be able to go at least 5 hours without eating or insulin will constantly stay high
  • Every time you eat, an angel gets it wings....
  • Etc.

Now here's an interesting question:
What if it's NOT US failing the rules but the rules failing us???
{think about it......}
These rules are often unfounded, contradictory, changeable, and CONFUSING.
Raise your hand if the science of nutrition ever feels CONFUSING.

Not only that but when you feel BAD what do you do?
Do you take BETTER care of yourself?
No you don't.
You say "what the hell? I've already messed up today! Might as well keep going....."
And then you eat everything in your fridge, including the expired condiments.

While we can learn from the science of nutrition, our best teacher is our body. As long as there are food experts out there, they will disagree about.......well, everything. We need to be able to make decisions that make sense for OUR bodies and OUR lives.

You need to be your own expert.

And, in order to do that, you need to silence the food police in your head because (they are insane and) they are drowning out important information from your body.

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How do you fight the food police in your head?

Think of this as a living, breathing meditation (that you are actually going to do).

It would be unreasonable to think you could go from living with very specific, incessant, food rules uni-cycling through your brain like a one-man-band for most of your life, to a silent, peaceful brain.
It's not gonna to happen.

Instead, what you are going to do is notice every time you find yourself feeling like you need to follow a food rule. A rule that makes you feel good or bad.
And then you are going to write it down.
And then you are going to challenge that rule.
This is your Homework.

Again, at this point in the process it's very difficult to go from a negative nutritional voice to a positive nutritional voice - that will happen down the road. For now, try challenging the rules in your head with one of these NEUTRAL voices:

1. The Food Anthropologist: this voice isn't trying to make any changes. It just observes what is happening. It observes that when you ignore your hunger at 10:30 am, you overeat for the rest of the day. It notices that when you have a stressful day, you eat sugar at night. It notices that when you eat consistently your energy and mood are better. It just notices. It's not trying to make big shifts - it's just gathering data.

2. The Nurturer: think of this as the voice of your grandma or a well-paid shrink. This voice is there to normalize your behaviours. When you overeat at the end of the day this voice says - " no big deal - that's normal, it's a perfectly reasonable way to cope. You're figuring this out!". When you eat cake for breakfast this voice says "okay, interesting choice! You must be needing some extra love today". This voice is NICE.

It'll probably feel kind of lame-o to be nice to yourself but hey - how far has shaming and criticizing gotten you, thus far?

Stop whining and just try it. :)