Have you ever heard that nagging voice in your head saying, “You can’t eat that! Those are bad for you! Don’t waste the carbs!”
Well my friend, that’s the voice of the Food Police! The food police is not a real person, but rather refers to the set of food rules you have declared for yourself. It’s the internal monologue telling you what is “good” or “bad”.
These judgmental internal thoughts are developed by exposure to social media, our own mind, our friends, family, doctors and good old diet culture.
The fourth principle of intuitive eating: Challenging the food police is all about questioning the validity of these food rules, and reframing them to stop letting food create shame and dictate our worth. This principle will help you make food neutral to your character – learning that food has no moral value over you!
Before we begin I encourage you to go back and read about principles #1-#3. These principles all build upon each other and be most effective if you follow them in order!
Policing Your Food With Gestational Diabetes
Policing food and allowing food choices to dictate self-worth is common everywhere- but can be especially prevalent in pregnant people and pregnant people with Gestational Diabetes. This may sound like “I can only have this many carbs”, “It’s my fault for developing Gestational Diabetes”, “If I have something sweet my baby will be unhealthy”.
Recognize these thoughts and recognize where they came from. Did you read them somewhere? Are they based on something your doctor said? A friend? Get curious about the root of these beliefs.
Reframing Thoughts and Learning the Truth
Usually the voice of the food police is not rooted in fact or evidence, which is why it’s important to draw on what we know to be true.
For example: if the food police and that voice in your head is telling you not to have a cookie at lunch, try to recognize how this makes you feel and where it brought you. Did not having the cookie make your baby safer? Or did it cause you to feel out of control around sweets and led to a cookie binge later on?
By recognizing the lies of the food police we can replace them with statements based on facts that guide our choices moving forward.
Practical Ways You Can Start Challenging the Food Police
- Create positive reframes when the food police voice tries to speak: “I know that restriction is not helpful because I remember when it led to me feeling out of control”. “I am more than my food choices and need nourishment to be my best self”. “Policing my food choices and making judgements does more harm than good”.
- Surround yourself with people and resources that support your journey to find peace with food. Set boundaries with outside forces that contribute to the food police voice. This may be friends, social media accounts, family, even doctors.
- Stay away from absolutes like “can’t,” and “never,”. Replace them with less absolute words like “can,” and “might”.
- Work with an Intuitive Eating Dietitian who will help you every step of the way create a healthy relationship with food
Gestational Diabetes and Your Overall Mindset
It is important to check your mindset throughout pregnancy, especially if you develop Gestational Diabetes. These ways of thinking show up all the time in diet culture, and in many Gestational Diabetes diet advice. Notice if you fall into any of these mindset traps:
- Black and white thinking: there is only good vs bad, right vs wrong. No middle ground
- Magical thinking: if I do this one thing it will absolutely result in this other thing (ex. If I limit carbs I won’t get gestational diabetes- we know this isn’t true)
- Catastrophic thinking: thinking every little thing you eat will he harmful
- Pessimistic thinking: it’s not worth it- nothing will help
- Linear thinking: inflexible thinking/no room for nuance
Replace these with positive self talk based on rational thinking. Recognize there is no black or white. Live in the gray and practice visualizing the best case scenario rather than expecting things to go badly.
You can even practice creating more helpful “food personas” in your head that are ready to challenge the food police. This idea comes from Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.
This may look like:
- The Food Anthropologist who is curious and makes neutral observations
- “I noticed that when I ate that meal I felt satisfied, full, and had energy for hours and my blood sugar was X”
- The Nurturer Voice who is compassionate and understanding, gently pushes back on food police and redirects
- “That eating experience didn’t have the impact on my mood or blood sugar that I was expecting. It’s ok, I still deserve to eat and I won’t compensate by restricting”
- The Rebel Ally Voice who helps you protect your boundaries and fight back against diet culture
- “I understand that the diet advice my provider is telling me is rooted in diet culture and not helping me. I will ask that they not give diet advice and will find a new provider if it continues to be an unsupportive relationship.”
- The Nutrition Ally who is interested in nutrition without a dieting agenda
- “Let’s go team! Mind, body, and soul are going to work together to nourish each other and support our overall health and wellness.”
- The Intuitive Eater Voice is based in your gut reactions and is all about tapping back into the intuition you were born with
- “Hmm, I’m in the mood for something crunchy, salty, and warm. What can fulfill that desire and be satisfying?”
Your mind has power– and learning how to harness that power is a skill, especially on your journey to food freedom and a healthy pregnancy.
And when you’re tempted to go back on a diet or start to feel overwhelmed on this journey, remember that the choices you make today (even if they’re just choices you make while pregnant) will have a lasting impact on your relationship with food for life, as well as your child’s future relationship with food.
Are you feeling ready to go out and challenge the food police? Continue to take notice of the way you police your own food, and how others try to police your choices as well. Get curious. Accept what comes without judgment. And if you’re ready to get support as you silence the food police for good – I’m here to help. Click here to book a free discovery call where we will chat more about you, your journey, and how I can help.