Food Police or Nutrition Ally?

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One of my favorite parts of the Intuitive Eating book is a chart under the "Challenge the Food Police" chapter which goes over the different food voices in your head. Learning to identify which voices your food thoughts are coming from helps you decide what to do with that though - should you listen, or challenge that thought? Is it a helpful voice, or a harmful voice? 

There's the diet rebel who says, "I can't have brownies? Well screw you I'm going to eat half the pan!" 

Then there's the nutrition informant, who likes to chime in with calorie counts, fat grams, and reminders to check the ingredients list. 

One that I hope you become acquainted with is the nurturer, the voice that tells you everything is going to be okay, and that there's nothing wrong with you for overeating cookies or not planning your meals or whatever you're feeling bad about. This is a helper voice. It's the voice of self compassion. 

As I'm working with clients through the intuitive eating process, one thing I like to help them do is learn to distinguish between the food police and nutrition ally. 

The food police is your diet voice, the one that tells you you're good or bad for choosing a certain food. It leads to guilt and shame over food choices and keeps you trapped in a diet mentality. The food police might tell you to not eat that fattening pizza, or that you should eat you snack yet because it's too soon to eat again, even though you're hungry, or that you ate too much yesterday so you should only eat low calorie foods today. 

The nutrition ally might give nutrition information, but the difference is that it comes from self care. There's no hidden agenda. The nutrition ally wants you to feel good. It might tell you it's totally okay to eat pizza, but remind you that eating more than a couple slices usually gives you heartburn. It might remind you that sugary foods for breakfast makes you crash, so it might be smart to save the donut for a snack.

It's easy to confuse the two because sometimes they're giving similar information. Teasing apart the two is helpful, especially for those who are afraid that with intuitive eating, they'll just eat burgers and ice cream forever. Tapping into the nutrition ally helps you learn how to take care of yourself with food without dieting. 

One easy way to distinguish the two is to pay attention to how you feel after responding to the voice. If you feel guilt, it's probably the food police. The food police is a judgmental voice. It has nothing to do with your internal cues, it's focused on making sure you're following external (diet) rules. The nutrition ally is more like a suggestion. It accepts the fact that you can make any decision you like, but wants to provide you with data or facts so you can make an informed decision. 

Who talks to you more often, the nutrition ally or the food police? 


I work with clients locally in Columbia, SC and virtually throughout the US, helping them discover their happiest and healthiest lives by nourishing a healthy relationship with food and their body. Learn more about my philosophy here.

More Intuitive Eating support:

Are False Beliefs Holding You Back? 

Are False Beliefs Holding You Back? 

Ditching Those Last Diet Rules

Ditching Those Last Diet Rules

What If Intuitive Eating Doesn't Work? 

What If Intuitive Eating Doesn't Work?