Challenge the Food Police: Principle 4 of Intuitive Eating
Sep 09, 21

Challenge the Food Police: Principle 4 of Intuitive Eating

If you haven’t already, check out our post introducing Intuitive Eating and our most recent post on the third principle, Make Peace With Food .

Do you ever feel like you have an internal battle happening between SHOULD and SHOULDN’T? How many delicious bites of food have you missed out on because you shouldn’t eat that? How many times have you exercised, not because you felt like it,  but because you should burn off dessert? If you’re like me, you hear people saying this all time time, and even find yourself saying it as well.

“Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. 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.
- Intuitive Eating Workbook, Elyse Resch and Eveleyn Tribole

Using the would should implies that there are right or wrong, ethical or unethical, even moral or immoral ways to eat. In reality, the pendulum should instead swing between foods that make me feel good from the inside out and foods that don’t. Making choices that are in line with your individual tastes, preferences, and physical body will bring you much greater health and satisfaction.

Turning down the volume on self-judgment is essential to Intuitive Eating. As soon as you shame yourself for making an “unhealthy”choice, you set off a cycle between food intake, feelings and coping mechanisms. Because food intake is something we can control, it becomes a reliable way to cope. This ends up looking like bingeing, restricting, or exercising.

Think about babies - they are completely uninhibited and eat only according to their taste, preference, and hunger level. The goal is to find this intuitive way of eating once again and cast aside the rules we’ve gathered over a lifetime. 

Try out this exercise from the Intuitive Eating Workbook designed to take a deeper look at your own personal food rules. This is not a pass or fail assignment, and only serves to help you get a sense of your experience with policing yourself. Check Yes or No to whether you identify with the following statements.


YES/NO - I count anything (calories, fat, carbs, protein, points, and so on).

YES/NO - I allow calories to determine how much I eat.

YES/NO - I feel I have to eat perfectly to be a healthy eater.

YES/NO - I have rules about what time of day is okay to eat.

YES/NO - I have a rule about snacking.

YES/NO - I avoid certain foods.

YES/NO - I have rules about knowing the nutritional content of a meal or food.

YES/NO - I eat differently if other people are present.

YES/NO - I compare what I eat to what others are eating.

YES/NO - I have rules about beverages.

YES/NO - I have rules around exercise and eating.

YES/NO - I believe that carbs should be limited.

YES/NO - I believe that sweets should be limited.

YES/NO - I weigh or measure my food.

YES/NO - I have a list of “safe” foods to eat.


“Challenge your food rules. Review your answers and see if you can reframe your rules with answers that are flexible and not absolute. Notice when your thoughts have been rigid or perfectionist. For some questions, see if you can add “for the most part” to your answer. For others, you will find that the best intention you can set is to challenge the food food entirely.” 

- Intuitive Eating Workbook, Elyse Resch and Eveleyn Tribole

Our next blog post will focus on the fifth principle of Intuitive Eating, Feel Your Fullness. Our Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Kiara, uses an approach called Intuitive Nutrition to help our clients learn how to use food to their individual advantage without the restriction of diets.