Find Your Inner Ally and Shut Down the Food Police
Hi my fierce loves!
I’m here to make a book recommendation AND a case for questioning your inner critic when it comes to food and exercise.
It’s safe to say that most of us know BALANCE is what is truly important in life. Extremes only work for a short window of time and aren't sustainable. Of course, we all have different definitions of “balance,” but it’s something I’ve seriously struggled to find my own version of. When you’ve been a chronic dieter, it’s hard to trust your intuition and find that caring voice in your head that’s guiding you toward balance.
You know what else is hard? It’s hard to be chill around food when you’re used to obsessing over ingredients, worried it’s poisonous to your body, terrified it will make you gain weight, and therefore be unlovable and be alone forever. Whoa, that took a harsh turn, but isn’t it the truth? It’s important to understand the root of all of these issues and I’ve done a lot of soul searching in order to be able to come to terms with them.
When you’ve been a chronic dieter, it seems as if you have 5 different voices in your head all pulling you in different directions. The quietest one is usually the one with your best interest in mind. The one that knows this obsessive behavior is unhealthy and unnecessary. The one that’s telling you to love yourself. The loudest voices are the critical, harsh, unforgiving voices. The inner critic.
The inner critic can go by many names: your inner bully, mean girl, or as they refer to it in the book Intuitive Eating, the “food police.” When it comes to healing your body image and relationship with food + exercise, it’s key to be able to differentiate these harsh voices from YOUR true voice. I’m going to take a quote smack dab out of the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating because I don’t know that I can say it better myself.
“The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created. The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.”
Not familiar with Intuitive Eating? In short, an intuitive eater is defined as a person who “makes food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma, honors hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating.” Sounds pretty great, right? If you’re anything like me, it also sounded like a pipe dream. This sounded like a far away, reach for the stars, over the sky kinda thing for me at the time I was experiencing disordered eating and orthorexia.
In fact, when I first heard about intuitive eating, my inner critic was loud and clear. It was like OH HELL NO! That’ll make you gain weight! If you can just eat whatever you want, it’ll be burritos and white chocolate macadamia cookies everyday. You can’t be trusted with that freedom.
I couldn’t trust myself. I couldn’t trust that caring, loving voice in my head. It was far too quiet.
SO. How do you get around to turning up the volume on your inner ally and muting the food police?
1. Awareness is key.
Once you’re aware of the various voices in your head, you can go ahead and label them. Name them if you want. Take their power away by differentiating them. Soon, you won’t see them as YOUR voice. It’s like an outside opinion popping up that you don’t want or need. I like to think of my inner voices as Mufasa vs. Scar. Fitting, I know.
2. CHALLENGE them!
Once you have them named, you can start questioning them. Just like you might when Aunt Sally or Grandma tells you your tattoos will make you unemployable or that blogging isn’t a real job. ;) Scream NO at your thoughts that praise you for counting calories or only eating a certain type of food, or that you’re a bad person for having dessert.
3. Become friends with your inner ally
Think about it. It’s taken you years of dieting to get to the place where the food police are reinforced and loud AF. You can make your inner ally JUST as loud! It’ll just take practice and consistency, like anything else worth doing in life. You can label the kind, loving voice your inner ally. The one that’s going to war with you to fight the food police. Soon, the food police will become quiet and the ally will overpower them. The more you can visualize that voice as a white light of guidance and love that has your best interest in mind, the more evil the food police will seem.
REMEMBER! Be kind to yourself. This process will be challenging at first. But what’s more challenging?...Dealing with the food police for the rest of your days and living in chronic stress or struggling a bit while trying to make a change to release you from that prison? I’ll take the latter.
Additionally, this is not to say you're going to completely banish the food police. It's not about being perfect when it comes to this, either. I've been there, done that... and it also doesn't work. But those voices will become more like batting a fly away instead of having a melt-down or ruining your day.
Just keep on trying because I SWEAR it gets easier. If the girl below can have this type of mental transformation and come out the other side, you can too.
Now for the book rec! I highly suggest grabbing The Intuitive Eating Workbook because it’s so well-written, helped me immensely, and actually forces you to journal out your thoughts and work through your feelings. If you're not in a place to invest in a coach but you want to make a change, it's worth every penny. It’s the best $17.46 I’ve spent on this journey to finding my inner LION, and healing my relationship with food + movement.
Are you currently dealing with the food police or have you overcome them?? Comment below and tell me your story!