Do you ever feel like you’re being patrolled by the food police, whether it’s a family member, partner, friend or co-worker?
Food policing sounds something like:
Should you really be eating that?
Gosh, you're eating again?
Do you really need more?
You sure can put it away!
Don’t you know how bad that is for you?
Wow! You must really be hungry!
Once on your lips, forever on your hips.
Are you really going to eat all of that?
Looks like you'll need to hit the gym tomorrow.
Someone's being naughty!
If you’ve ever been the victim of food policing (like my brownie shaming and dinner party incidents), you know it’s never helpful. More often than not, it leaves you feeling humiliated, guilty, ashamed, angry, resentful or rebellious—or all of the above!
Regardless of the food cop’s intentions, you have the right to eat whatever you want—whenever, wherever and however you want it—without having someone negatively comment on, criticize, judge or question your choices.
Set Your Boundaries
When the food police show up, it’s important to stand up for yourself by setting and protecting your boundaries. How you do so will naturally depend on the comment, the commenter and the situation, however, here are some responses to consider.
I know you mean well, but your comments are not helpful.
What I eat is truly none of your business.
I trust myself to give my body what it needs and not be influenced by other people’s views.
Please don’t make comments about my eating.
Yes, I am going to eat it and I won’t stand for being shamed about it.
What led you to think I want you to police my eating? Please don't do it again.
You mind your own plate and I'll mind mine.
You’re out of line. It’s absolutely not okay to comment on my food choices.
Yes, and I'm going to savor every single bite.
Say nothing, blow the food cop a kiss, then walk away to enjoy your food in peace.
Guilty of Food Policing?
Perhaps you’re guilty of policing other people’s food choices. I'm sorry to say I’ve done it myself in the past and have worked hard to change my ways.
Not only is it important to set your own boundaries, it’s equally important to respect other people’s boundaries, too.
If you catch yourself stepping into the role of the food police, hit the brakes. Should a comment slip out, immediately apologize.
Remembering how it feels to be on the receiving end of an unsolicited food comment will help you think twice before you open your mouth.
Your Internal Food Police
In addition to external food police, many of us struggle with internal food police. These are the voices in your head that tell you that you’re “good” or “bad” based on what or how you ate.
Your food police try to enforce the unreasonable rules diet culture has created, and make you feel guilty and ashamed about your food choices.
In order to make peace with food, you must fire your internal food police by challenging your beliefs and rules and removing any moralism and judgment surrounding food. Doing so is a critical step toward reclaiming the Intuitive Eater within you.