5 Ways to Deal With the Food Police

intuitive eating Apr 06, 2019

These tips will help you become more resilient to comments about food and your body on your intuitive eating journey. You can either take on the food police’s bullshit or you can check it at the door. And these 5 tips will show you exactly how you can do that!

What is the food police?

Anyone have that one family member or friend who’s always like “OMG you’re going to eat all of that?”. And you just want to be like “KEEP YOUR EYES ON YOUR OWN PLATE”? Yeah, that’s basically the food police in a nutshell.

The food police is basically that inner voice in your head or anyone else that makes comments about your eating or body that make you feel guilty or less than.

The food police creates unreasonable food rules, criticizes your body, tells you what you “should” and “shouldn’t” eat, demonizes certain foods while praising others and monitors your eating and exercise choices and judges you for them. In today’s culture, the food police constantly bombards us with unreasonable messages about what we “should” or “shouldn’t” eat, how are bodies are “supposed to” look, what diet we should be on, etc. These rules and messages hinder us from being able to tune into and honor our bodies individual needs.

Why You Should Have Compassion for the Food Police

You probably feel pretty angry at the food police…but goal isn’t to hate them. We need to have compassion for them. It’s not their fault. Diet culture programs us to think and act a certain way. Diet culture is a lie we’ve been sold that in order to be worthy and loved, we need to make our bodies look perfect and eat the perfect diet. We’ve been told our whole lives that this is what will lead to happiness, health and living our best life so of course we do anything we can to have that. The only problem is that diet culture never actually delivers on these promises. And not everyone is fortunate enough to realize that; so let’s have compassion for them.

These tips are to help you keep you become more resilient to comments about food and your body. It’s not about changing the people around you, it’s about changing the way you respond. Other people can’t make you feel a particular way, you allow them to make you feel that way. You can either take on their bullshit or you can check it at the door. And these 5 tips are exactly how you can do that. These tips focus on the external food police, not your inner food critic. That’s a whole other topic, but don’t worry I’ll cover that in another blog post!

5 Ways to Deal with the Food Police

1. Awareness

The food police’s comments have nothing to do with us; it’s always a projection of their own struggles and how they feel about themselves. Like when someone says “wow, I can’t believe you ate all of that”, what they are really saying is “I’m jealous you ate all of that; I feel deprived and wish I could let myself eat how much I want”.

Judgements might feel personal but they aren’t about you. They are truly just the projection of that person’s beliefs they have adopted. Yes, it can feel personal and hurtful but it really isn’t about you. It’s a reflection of their relationship with food and their body, not a reflection of you. When someone has a disordered relationship with food and their body, they often have a desire to control other’s eating and bodies because they are so desperate for control over their own.

When you become aware of the the fact that food and body comments have nothing to do with you and everything to do with the other person, this means you can just accept this person as being a victim of diet culture and you don’t have to take on their thoughts and feelings. It’s our choice whether or not we take on other people’s shit.

2. Disengage

You don’t have to take their shit on or engage with them, you can just become an observer. When you don’t engage in their food and body talk, they get bored of talking to themselves. Their subconscious mind will eventually realize that you respond to a positive conversation but don’t to a negative conversation so naturally, they’ll want to talk about more positive things because you’re giving them positive reinforcement to do that (and negative reinforcement to not).

3. Visualize

Alright, yes, we are going to get a little woo-woo here but trust me, it can really help. These visualizations are basically to help you pause and take a deep breath so you can respond thoughtfully, rather than react, whens someone makes a comment about food and your body.

  • Imagine you have this beautiful bubble surrounding you. It can be whatever color you want. Imagine that no bad vibes can come into your bubble and only good vibes can flow out of your bubble. Basically, this protects you from energy vampires (anyone who just totally sucks away your good energy, like the food police).
  • Imagine you have a beautiful golden light shining in your heart. As you inhale, the light gets brighter and as you exhale, the light expands all around you, protecting your energy and also sending out love and healing to everyone around you.
  • Imagine there is liquid sunshine (there’s no wrong way to imagine this by the way) being poured from the top of your head into your body. It starts filling your body from the bottom up. It fills your feet and then your ankles and so forth. As the liquid sunshine fills your body, you are filled with love and gratitude and any tension melts away. Your body becomes filled with loving, happy, healing energy and you no longer are affected by what’s happening outside of you.

4. Change the Subject

See if you can shift the conversation to talk about literally anything else. Ask them about their family or job. Ask them what the best part of their day was. Ask them if they’ve read any good books lately. What else can you talk to them about that has nothing to do with food and bodies?

If you’re struggling to change the conversation and you think they might be open to learning more about making peace with food, you can introduce it in a gentle way. You could say “Have you ever heard of intuitive eating? It’s essentially a framework that helps you heal your relationship with food and your body by listening to your internal cues rather than external cues. It’s really helped me feel more free around food and accept my body. I’d love to share some resources with you if you want to know more. But no worries if not.” If they say no, move on. It’s not your job to make everyone believe in intuitive eating. If they say yes, you can share the books I recommend here, this post that breaks down what intuitive eating is or my instagram where I share daily tips (@sunnythymesblog).

5. Set boundaries

As much as we want to be able to tune out other people’s judgements about themselves that come out on us, it’s not always that easy. Especially if you are working on healing your relationship with food and your body and don’t feel resilient enough yet to really tune it out. That’s okay. You’re allowed to set boundaries with the people in your life if that’s what you need at this point in your journey.

You can say “would you please not comment on my food and my body? I am working on my relationship with food and my body and it stresses me out and makes it hard for me to enjoy my food. I’m struggling and this would really help me.” Or you could say “I appreciate what you are trying to do but is it alright with you if we don’t talk about food and bodies? I am just not interested in talking about that stuff because it makes me uncomfortable and doesn’t feel good. I am trying to make peace with food and my body and this would really help me.”

If they keep making comments after you’ve asked them not to several times, maybe you evaluate how you let this person be a part of your life. Maybe you don’t eat with them anymore or maybe you have to let go of the friendship. Only you can decide if this relationship is adding value to your life or taking it away.

So to recap, here are the 5 ways to deal with the food police:

  1. Awareness
  2. Disengage
  3. Visualize
  4. Change the Subject
  5. Set Boundaries

These tips don’t just apply to food and body negativity. They can apply to dealing with any kind of negativity from others! I hope this empowers you and reminds you that nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. It’s up to you if you’re going to allow that. Which tip are you going to try next time someone makes a comment about your food or body?

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