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Intuitive Eating Principle Four (Challenge the Food Police)

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It’s week 4 of my 10 week series diving into the principles of Intuitive Eating. To receive weekly emails about this series please sign up here.

There are 10 Principles for Intuitive Eating, and the 4th principle is Challenge the Food Police.

I am barely touching on the things I learned in this chapter and highly recommend the book because you will learn so much from it.

Black background and a woman with blonde hair holding her hair backThe Food Police is the deeply embedded thoughts, feelings, emotions that we have adopted over the course of many years from various diets, articles, friends, family, doctors, etc. The Food Police is that voice in our head that is telling us what is “good” or “bad” and monitors all the “rules” we’ve created for ourselves based on our past experiences with how we have fed our body.

Reading through this chapter was eye opening.

When I started to read it I thought it was going to be about all the people’s opinions I hear on a daily basis whether it’s in person or in my social media feed. While that is a part of the Food Police, actually the bigger part of the equation is in our own heads and the rules we have decided to follow based on our past experiences with dieting.

I have been on many diets since I began my dieting journey and I have heard A LOT of rules over the years.

A woman walking on a road with her back turned and a hat on In the Intuitive Eating book they describe the Food Police as a “strong voice that’s developed through dieting. It’s your inner judge and jury that determine if you are doing “good” or “bad”. It is the sum of all your dieting and food rules, and gets stronger with each diet. It also gets strengthened through new food rules that you may read about in magazines or messages you hear from friends or family.”

What are some things my Food Police say to me?

  • I shouldn’t eat too much bread.
  • I shouldn’t let my kids eat too much sugar.
  • I feel like a bad Mom if I give my kids juice.
  • I shouldn’t be hungry yet, I didn’t eat that long ago.
  • I shouldn’t drink coffee because the creamer is so bad for me so I should learn to like it black.
  • You didn’t get enough steps today.
  • Even though you are pregnant doesn’t mean you should “let yourself go”.
  • You failed today because you didn’t eat a single fruit or vegetable.
  • I can only imagine how many points/calories this meal is.

I could go on and on but you get the point.

We all have those inner voices that scream at us sometimes. Some days the voices can be silenced and other days it takes a lot of effort, and deep breathing, to shut her up!

How am I challenging the food police?

Everyday I remind myself why I have chosen Intuitive Eating.

I remind myself of the example I am setting and how the choices I am making have a ripple effect on the lives of my children and their happiness with their own bodies. Bodies that are healthy and strong and have a strong intuition right now. The longer they can eat intuitively before they hear messages in school and media, the better. I do not want to be the person who begins telling them that being thin means you are better or that certain foods are “bad”.

Most of us were born to eat intuitively, unless there was poverty, malnutrition, feeding tubes, etc. involved, then those children will have to learn how to find their intuition in regards to hunger and fullness.

My goal is a strong foundation of body acceptance for my children. And they have to learn that from me.

A woman with her two sons on bikesAcceptance isn’t accepting a body that is thin or fit just because that is what society tells us.

Acceptance is knowing we are fueling our bodies in a way that we feel our best, we move our bodies because it makes them feel good and we practice self care because that makes us happier…. none of these things are tied to the number on the scale or the way our body looks.

The Food Police keeps food and our body at war.

I don’t know about you, but the fighting gets old after a while. The constant focus on what was on my plate and how that was going to effect my weight got exhausting.

I want to be healthy and feel good, but that is more than being thin. It’s also not being overly consumed by food or exercise and how my body will respond to them. I wanted to learn to trust that if I learn to listen to my body, it will take care of me.

As my journey continues in Intuitive Eating I am strengthening other voices that they discuss in this chapter.

  • The Food Anthropologist- the voice that makes observations without judgement.
    • This voice allows me to discover new foods without judging myself.
    • It allows me to honor the thoughts and feelings I am having about how my body is being fed without judging them based on what someone else thinks I should be eating or doing. NO ONE ELSE can tell you what your body needs. We all need different things and what makes one person feel good doesn’t mean it will make everyone feel good. With that said you also have to reach a point that you can “hear” what your  body is telling you.
      Two women talking on a swing
  • The Nurturer- this voice is gentle and is how we would talk to our best friends or close family members.
    • This voice is how we talk to a friend who is struggling with choices they’ve made. Here are some examples.
      • “You aren’t bad because you had one cookie”
      • “It’s ok that you skipped your workout because you were tired. Sleep is just as important as movement”
      • “You are still YOU, no matter what the scale says”
      • “When you take care of yourself you are happier
    • This voice isn’t an “excuser”, it’s actually a voice of reason and self care and what I’ve learned is self care is SO important when learning intuitive eating.

When we become an Intuitive Eater we learn what we like and what we don’t like.

If you are reading this and think you only like sweets and candy and fried food… I’m here to tell you I would highly doubt it. Your body will begin to crave nutrition and when you learn to listen to it over time, the cravings for the foods you’ve most likely restricted for so long subside.

A woman holding a plate of fruit kabobsThis doesn’t mean you never eat them or don’t want them, you just realize how your body feels when having them in comparison to other things and you learn to give yourself what makes your body feel it’s best.

When I went to eating disorder therapy 10 years ago, my Food Police had a death grip on me. I had SO MANY RULES. Over the years, I’ve slowly released some.

When I stopped dieting earlier this year I have committed to releasing the rules I wasn’t even aware I’d placed on myself. It’s a process. It doesn’t happen overnight and peace isn’t always found quickly. But, it’s possible.

I have spent the majority of my life on a diet or trying to change the way my body looks for one reason or another.

Shutting down the expectations and rules I’ve set for myself is a process I have committed to, no matter how long it takes. Some days are better than others, some days I find myself saying things that are harmful, but the difference in me today and the person I was a year ago is I recognize the harm now.

I am doing my best. My best looks different every day.

A sign that says you are worthy of love.My best isn’t a reflection of the scale, it’s a reflection in how I’m feeling instead.

There are 10 Principle of Intuitive Eating and if you want to learn more about each principle and how I’m embracing it in my journey you can check out previous posts I’ve shared.


  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Feel your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Cope with your Emotions without Using Food
  8. Respect your Body
  9. Exercise-Feel the Difference
  10. Honor Your Health- Gentle Nutrition

I am loving the feed back I’m receiving from you as to how this series is helping so many of you. Just a reminder, I am not a registered dietitian or a doctor. I am just sharing my own personal experience of Intuitive Eating.

If you feel you need additional resources please reach out to your doctor, a therapist or a registered dietitian for help.


There are 10 principles of Intuitive Eating and the 4th Principle is Challenge the Food Police. #intuitiveeating #intuitiveeatingprinciples

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