When it comes to food we have been conditioned to believe that it's either good or bad This food hierarchy causes us to feel anxious around food, always worrying about what we look like and the idea that we are then ‘bad’ people for eating ‘bad’ food. Not only does this put pressure on ourselves for feeling like we have to eat a certain way it can make us think that we are morally better (or worse) for eating these said foods. Which FYI, is not the case!
I’m sure we all have experienced that little voice in the back of our heads that has us over thinking and causing that anxious feeling around food. What we in the non-diet space call, 'our Inner Critic'. So what can I do to stop the inner critic from rearing its ugly head and how do I neutralise food?
1. Stop using food labels like good and bad!
One thing I ALWAYS say to my clients and anyone when it comes to talking about food is that there is no such thing as good and bad food! All food has a place in our diets and eating, for example, a diet just made up of chocolate is not healthy but neither is eating a diet that is just broccoli! Both of those diets are just as bad as the other so to say that eating one type of food is better, in my opinion, is a lie!
So what can you call food instead? Simply call it what it is! The cake is cake, chocolate is chocolate, a vegetable is a vegetable! You could also use words such as more nutritious, less nutritious, everyday foods and sometimes/fun foods. The best way for making the wording stick is by finding things that fit well in your vocabulary and create no value (which is why my fave way of labelling is by calling food what it is).
2. Notice when you are having these same thoughts and ask yourself why you are thinking that way.
What a lot of people don’t know when it comes to nutrition is that it is mostly a mind game! This is why I recommend meditation and affirmations so much to my clients because it helps us to stop and slow down with the idea that it will help us to notice how we are feeling and what has triggered those thoughts and feelings.
When these anxiety provoking thoughts creep in, take a step back and ask yourself why? And keep asking till you get down to the core reasoning behind why you think this way about food!
3. Let go of control!
What would you say your ideal way of eating would be? I'm guessing it’s probably feeling free and unbothered about food, being able to eat the way you want without stress. Eating cake, chocolate and the fun foods that we believe we can’t eat without any anxiety.
The only way to do that is to stop thinking you have to have control over the way you eat, because that is where the problem lies! The more control you think you need to have, the less control you will feel like you have and the more anxious you will become about eating ‘off’ that plan in your head, which in turn can lead to you bingeing and even could lead to eating disorders.
So the best way to get rid of the inner critic and to neutralise food? Stop giving food so much power! Get rid of food labels, understand where these thoughts are coming from and relinquish control over your diet! And the best way to do that? Start intuitive eating! Intuitive eating will give you the tools to let go of the leash you have on food, to help you to understand the reasoning behind your thoughts and to narrow it down into a simple picture that we can really understand. It can also help you to protect yourself when the inner critic wants to poke their head out again and wreak havoc like they usually do!
If you need support or just don’t know how to even start your journey when it comes to intuitive eating then you can book in an appointment today. Or, book in a discovery call here to see if intuitive eating is for you!
Scarlet specialises in body image and disordered eating with a weight inclusive approach. She is passionate about helping people fall back in love with food and themselves and working together as a team to do so. Visit Scarlet’s profile to request her expertise.
Scarlet can also be found on instagram @understandingliving for more advice on how to implement intuitive eating and to gain confidence around food and your body!