Nourish and Nurture

The Food Police

October 26, 2023 Miriam Hatoum Season 3 Episode 73
Nourish and Nurture
The Food Police
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 73 - The Food Police

What you eat is not a moral issue

Let’s start with what I teach till the cows come home, and that is, food is not to be seen in moralistic terms such sinful, bad, dangerous or wicked. It’s just food ya’ll. And you are not bad for eating past full or eating a food as you see as bad.

By working on the principle of  ""Challenge the Food Police" I could finally understand how my
perception of the external food police might sometimes be nothing more than my own thoughts being a projection where I THINK people are thinking things. Of course, the external food police can also be very real – as in the case of my aunt telling me to lose weight or my husband would look elsewhere, or someone remarking at a party that Granny Keto shouldn’t be eating cake. 

This episode will go along way toward learning to challenge the food police in your own head, and how to handle the food police on the outside!

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Episode #: 73.  The Food Police

 

You’re Listening to the Keto and Low Carb Success podcast, Episode #73, The Food Police.

 

Introduction

 

Did you know that you don't have to spend money on a diet program or weigh, measure and track your food? What if you could learn to have success by following an easy roadmap that takes you on adventures from learning how to change your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, to learning about what foods work best in your body and why? Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Conquer Cravings with Keto, as I give you actionable coaching advice that is sure to empower you so that you will finally find peace with food and learn to trust your body’s signals. You’ve got this, girl! 

 

Be sure to go to miriamhatoum.com/resources to get all the free guides to help you along the way. I am in your shoes, my friends, and I wrote these guides for both of us. The link is in the show notes and transcripts.

 

Oh, and before we start, I want to let you know that the primary purpose of this podcast and the course is to educate and does not constitute medical advice or service, and I’m keeping up with the science as fast as I can so I can share with you the latest breaking research in this area to help you achieve your dreams!

How Do We Even Start?

I don’t know if any of you watch Everybody Loves Raymond, a sitcom that debuted in 1996, and is still going strong with reruns. As soon as I was about three pages into both the book and the workbook on Principle 4, Challenge the Food Police, I was reminded of an episode where Raymond said, “Open the window and let some of the wrong out.” Boy, was I wrong about this principle, and I needed to open some windows. 

All along I was saying that I couldn’t wait to work on this principle so that I could let go of worrying about what people are thinking of me, or rather of Granny Keto, while I help myself to a hotdog roll or a dessert. Yes, this principle is some of that, but most of all it is letting go of the food police in my own mind. I suppose once that is done, I won’t care so much about what other people think but really, I was so surprised to do the work on this.

What you eat is not a moral issue

Let’s start with what I teach till the cows come home, and that is, food is not to be seen in moralistic terms such sinful, bad, dangerous or wicked. It’s just food ya’ll. And you are not bad for eating past full or eating a food as you see as bad.

 

In the episode “When a Chip is Just a Chip” I talk about food and the way you eat, and how not to turn it into religion or dogma. However, as Resch and Tribole put it, “this way of viewing food has become a false religion. Dieting has become the absolving ritual for removing the guilt of eating pleasurable foods.”

 

I try myself to not dichotomize it into good or bad, and instead ask myself the question: Will this food make me feel well or will it make me feel sick? If my goal is to feel well – which gluten and dairy do not – I can ask myself if the food helps me achieve my goal or does it not? Even in terms of weight loss, which is not the ultimate goal of Intuitive Eating, you can ask yourself if will a food get you to that goal or hinder it? 

 

Examine Our Beliefs

The first workbook section of this principle is to examine beliefs and to evaluate the belief system about food and one’s body. 

 

The first part was a checklist and I had two very resounding yeses as well as two half yeses. The yeses were beliefs about food groups and the half yeses were rules about diets being the most efficient way to lose weight and the rule about eating after dinner.

 

In reflecting about the origin of my beliefs I wrote that I don’t remember circumstances before being brought to the diet doctor at age 13, but I do remember feeling not as worthy as my older sister because she was skinny. I also remember not being able to find cute clothes and therefore I made a lot of my own. Nowadays any fashion or style is available in any size, and especially for kids, but in the 50’s and 60’s girls had to shop in the old lady department if she they were over a size 12 or, God forbid, a size 14.

 

I also remember being told about my grandmother’s stomach and that it was like a shelf, and that I had the same build as her and was going to have a fat stomach. I remember being on the bus to camp and watching my thighs spread over the seat while the girl’s next to me stayed slim. I remember going to the infirmary every day – sometimes twice a day – to avoid swimming at camp so I didn’t have to wear a bathing suit. This was third grade, mind you. This means that even before the age of 8, my beliefs about being fat and food and my body were already solidified.

 

I remember, as an adult, being in a waiting room with my mother and leafing through a Weight Watchers magazine where there were pictures of women in swimsuits – maybe at most they were a size 14 – and my mother exclaiming how fat they were and how could they be in magazines. I thought they were beautiful. I also remember an aunt saying to me that I had better lose weight or my husband would look elsewhere (and keep in mind I might have been about a size 16 at the time).

 

Cognitive Distortion and Examining Your Thoughts

 

A cognitive distortion is a very strong statement that is based on false beliefs.  We must challenge these beliefs – especially with regard to our eating. If we don’t face thee distortions, our behaviors are out of line with what could shape a much better life for ourselves.

 

The workbook has an exercise that walked me through my thoughts, giving examples of unreasonable thoughts, which are these cognitive distortions. There are prompts for questions to ask, and reflections to have about them. 

 

The next exercise is about practicing approaching thoughts with curious awareness. There is a tendency to expand our thoughts with stories we have created, and the exercise asks us to reflect on how adding a judgmental thought or a narrative story line makes us feel. It’s important to label thoughts just as THINKING or MERE THOUGHTS, NOT FACTS. We can reduce suffering caused by a distorted thought by approaching it with neutral awareness, without attaching to it or creating a story behind it.

 

Here I want to share something that took my breath away as I wrote out the exercise. I reflected back to the negative thoughts about a situation and noticed what feelings came up. 

 

I was thinking of being compared to my older sister. Honestly, as I sit here writing this, I don’t know that I was ever exactly told in words, “Why can’t you be thin like your sister” but something must have conveyed this to me because I have always carried that belief. The workbook gives a list of emotions that can come up with thoughts, and what came up for me were “sadness” “envy” and “shame”. 

 

But then I thought about my genetic lineage. My sister had my mother’s body. My mother had her mother’s body, which was very slender. My mother also had her father’s genes (which she did not pass on to my sister) and I do remember my grandfather as being round. While my sister took on my grandmother’s genes, I took on my grandfather’s genes. I also saw my father as “round” and don’t forget the story about his mother with the stomach shelf. So I obviously pulled from those genes and also the paternal side of my mother’s genes.


 And this is the lightning bolt: What if this body is the one I am meant to have and I was never meant to have the matriarchal lineage body like my sister? I also remember something my sister-in-law said to me that had the same lightning bolt essence: What if I am exactly the weight I am meant to be? All this shame and envy and sadness – how it has shaped my life, and there was no need for it at all. 

 

There were several more exercises to help transform negative self-talk into positive self-talk and gratitude. 

My negative talk is:

·       Why can’t I stick with anything?

·       I’m stupid for eating this.

·       I’m lazy for not exercising.

Creating positive self-talk out of that is:

·       I haven’t given up. I am trying to find what is a good fit for me. (An aside here is that Keto and Low Carb are absolutely a good fit for me, and I will talk about that in the Gentle Nutrition episode, but I’m still searching for ways to make things sustainable.)

·       At least I notice what I’m eating. Now I can work on WHY!

·       I have had a track record of injury with exercise. Right now, I just have to keep moving.

My gratitude list:

·       I am privileged to be able to eat what I want.

·       I feel lucky to be developing a more nurturing approach to food.

·       I am grateful I can walk and move.

·       I am beyond grateful to have a husband, family and friends who support me.

 

As part of this section in the workbook they cover a concept that I recognized as CTFAR – although they don’t call it that . 

·       C stands for circumstance, 

·       T stands for thoughts,

·        F stands for feelings,

·        A stands for action, and 

·       R stands for results. 

 

The premise is that you cannot change the circumstance but your thoughts about shape everything that follows, all the way down to the results that you have. I have seen this concept presented in so many ways by so many teachers, coaches and mentors, that I have also incorporate it into my work and made it my own. This week’s actionable coaching advice will walk you through it in a way that you can turn your life around if you pay attention to what you are thinking!

 

A very helpful tool that I picked up from this chapter and which I have used a lot the last few weeks is “For the Most Part” thinking. This moves us away from perfectionist goals into intentions of “for the most part.” Some of mine are 

·       “For the most part, I will find meals that hold me.”

·        “For the most part I won’t snack if I’m not hungry.” 

·       “For the most part, I will find ways to move a little more, starting with parking further away from the entrance of any store I am going into.” 

·       “For the most part, I will compliment myself every time I pass a mirror!”

 

Challenging Your Food Rules

 

The workbook gives a question list of 17 popular food rules, including, “Do you count anything?” I answered that I have always counted something. It has been my identity, even as much as I already eat intuitively and have gotten away from weighing and measuring my food. There is still a little mental tracker ticking away macros or Points or calories.


 “Do you compare what you eat to what other people are eating?” My answer was no, but I notice. 

 

“Do you have any rules about knowing the nutrition content of a meal or food?” I always have some sort of tally. After more than 60 years of dieting, do you think it is that easy to not know or notice – the fact that salad might be better nutritionally than a cookie or cake? 

 

These are just a few of the rules. The full list is very interesting. I wasn’t even aware of the extent or depth of my food rules until I did this exercise. Resch and Tribole remark that, “It’s important to get a sense of these rules from your childhood, their degree of rigidity, and how they might still be affecting you… Remember, your parents were likely well-meaning when they created them.”  

 

Then there is another eye-opening list asking “What were your family’s rules and expectations?” 

 

I’ll share one here: Did you ever get mixed messages from your parents? For example, did they warn you not to eat too much – saying that you would gain weight – yet they insisted on your finishing your plate, even if you were not hungry?” I answered a resounding YES to that one. My mother absolutely showed love with food. I don’t ever remember being shamed for eating too much, but I remember being shamed with the consequences. I don’t remember that they SAID I was too fat… so why do I carry that shame? Interesting, my friends… 

 

Inner Food Voices

There are many more lists and exercises in this portion of the workbook but I want to wind up with talking about Inner Food Voices. 

 

These voices are identified as either Destructive Dieting Voices, which are 

·       The Food Police 

·       The Nutrition Informant and 

·       The Diet Rebel.  

Or The Powerful Ally Voices which are 

·       The Food Anthropologist, 

·       The Nurturer, 

·       The Nutrition Ally, and 

·       the Intuitive Eater. 

 

Working out the exercises with these voices, combined with going over the list of my own food rules and the list of my family’s rules and expectations, made me see how my inner Food Police has shaped so much of my life. 

 

I could finally understand how my perception of the external food police might sometimes be nothing more than my own thoughts being a projection where I THINK people are thinking things. Of course, the external food police can also be very real – as in the case of my aunt telling me to lose weight or my husband would look elsewhere, or someone remarking at a party that Granny Keto shouldn’t be eating cake. 

 

This workbook chapter on Principle 4, The Food Police, winds up with exercises on how to replace destructive dieting voices with the powerful ally Voices. Then there is a very important work-through section to help explore how we can discover our innate intuitive eater voice. 

 

This section of the workbook brought about so much insight into why dieting has had such a grip on me and where that grip might have originated. It also made me appreciate the role that genetics plays in my body type, body size and metabolism. There is always a nature/nurture seesaw, and this chapter was so helpful in helping me see that it is not all one or the other. 

THIS WEEK’S ACTIONABLE COACHING ADVICE

In my program, Keto and Low Carb Success, I present the concept of CTFAR which stands for Circumstances, Thoughts, Feelings, Actions and Results. Let me give you an example here so that you can see what I’m talking about. Here’s one:

 

What you are experiencing:         Let’s flip this on its head:

C: I weigh 200 pounds.                   C: I weigh 200 pounds.

T: I'm so fat.                                     T: It's just a number.

F: I am not worth it.                        F: I am more than this and worth it.

A:  I eat junk to feel better.                         A: I stay on plan and push through.

R: I stay fat and miserable.             R: I have lost weight!

 

Here’s another one:

What you are experiencing:         Let’s flip this on its head:

C: My dress does not fit.                 C: My dress does not fit.

T: The dress looks awful.                T: It's a nice dress.

F: I'll never look good.                    F: I usually feel great in this dress.

A:  I eat to feel better.                       A: I can add a shawl to cover up a bit.

R: I stay fat and miserable.             R: I am motivated to lose a little more weight.

For this week’s actionable coaching advice I want you to take at least two circumstances and work them out the way I have here. Run through the circumstance with all your judgments and actions that flow from them. Then make a NON-JUDGMENTAL thought and see what flows from that instead.

Next week’s episode

Next week I will look at Principle 5: Feel your Fullness. As with Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger, I expect to learn many new things than what I already teach to my students and clients. Be sure to tune in and learn different ways to become connected with your fullness and to overcome barriers to responding to this cue! 

 

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Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time.