Satisfaction Factor

#9 - Intuitive Eating Deep Dive - Challenge the Food Police

November 24, 2021 Naomi Katz & Sadie Simpson
Satisfaction Factor
#9 - Intuitive Eating Deep Dive - Challenge the Food Police
Show Notes Transcript

This week, Naomi & Sadie do a deep dive into Intuitive Eating Principle #4 - Challenge the Food Police. This principle is all about unpacking & reframing our thoughts, beliefs, and rules about food (and bodies - because, let's face it, food rules are really body rules). This episode covers: identifying our inner & outer food police, why it's important to trace the origins of our beliefs, and impactful ways to reframe our diet culture beliefs. Plus, we have some nuanced conversations about how the food police and the real police disproportionately harm the same people & why it's important to talk back to medical weight stigma.

You can stay up to date on all things Satisfaction Factor by following us on IG @satisfactionfactorpod!

And this is the last opportunity to join the waitlist for the 2022 cohort of Nourish & Bloom, Naomi's 40-week group Intuitive Eating workshop for grown-ups who already know what's best for their own bodies & want to reclaim their time, energy, and autonomy from diet culture. Folks on who enroll through the waitlist get a free 60-minute 1:1 coaching call to use at anytime during the workshop! You can get all the details & join the waitlist at www.happyshapes.co/nourishandbloomwaitlist!

Here's where to find us:
Sadie Simpson: www.sadiesimpson.com or IG @thesadiesimpson
Naomi Katz: www.happyshapes.co or IG @happyshapesnaomi

For this episode's transcript, visit: www.satisfactionfactorpod.com

This episode references:
Ragen Chastain
Dealing With Fatphobia at the Doctor's Office Webinar
HAES Health Sheets

Naomi Katz:

Welcome to Satisfaction Factor, the podcast where we explore how ditching diet culture makes our whole lives more satisfying. Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Satisfaction Factor. I'm Naomi Katz, an Intuitive Eating, body image, and self trust coach providing anti diet support to free thinking grownups who want to reclaim their autonomy and consent from diet culture.

Sadie Simpson:

I'm Sadie Simpson, an anti diet group fitness instructor and Intuitive Eating counselor, and I help other fitness professionals disengage from diet culture so they can improve program enrollment, engagement, impact, and retention without shame and manipulation.

Naomi Katz:

We are on episode four of our Intuitive Eating Deep Dive series, which means that we are going to be talking all about the food police today. But before we dive into that, I want to give you my usual reminder that the waitlist for Nourish & Bloom is currently open. So Nourish & Bloom is my 40 week group Intuitive Eating workshop. It is four weeks for each of the 10 principles, so it's a pretty deep dive into each of them. You get 40 weekly emails, 10 group Q&A and coaching calls, and an optional like Voxer messaging add-on for a little one on one support if that feels like something you might want during the workshop. Enrollment for 2022 is capped at 15 people, because we just wrapped up our 2021 cohort with a pretty small group, and it really created a nice atmosphere of support for everybody, so I want to make sure that that continues through to the new cohort as well. The actual enrollment to Nourish & Bloom is open to the waitlist right now. But you can still get on the waitlist if you want to. But the enrollment will open to the general public on Monday the 29th. If you do decide to join the waitlist, you have the option to get a free one on one call with me that you can use anytime during the course of the workshop. For all the details, including the full curriculum and a link to join that waitlist so that you can enroll before it opens to the general public on Monday, and get that chance for the bonus one on one call, you can visit happyshapes.co/nourishand bloomwaitlist.

Sadie Simpson:

That sounds awesome. I can't believe enrollment is already here. I feel like you were just wrapping up the last cohort, and I'm excited to see how things go with this next group. And yeah, sign up for Nourish & Bloom, it's going to be a really great program.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I'm really excited about it. Thank you. As mentioned, today we are covering Intuitive Eating principle number four- challenge the food police. We're gonna get into what that means in a minute, but, you know, I mentioned last week that I tend not to- in Nourish & Bloom, and even with one on one clients- I tend to not actually cover this one fourth, I usually cover this one more like third. And you know, we've talked before about how these principles aren't steps, they don't have to go in order. And so this is a great example of that. I often approach this one with clients especially before taking on making peace with food for a couple of reasons. For one thing, honoring hunger, which is the second principle, is something that takes some time to do, and the narratives that we have around food can sometimes impact our ability to honor our hunger. You know, we have a certain narrative around food, and we're hungry, but this narrative is getting in the way of actually meeting that hunger need. And so I find that challenging the food police is a really great thing to take on sort of in combination with honoring your hunger, and calling attention to the ways that these narratives are popping up and maybe acting as obstacles to honoring our hunger. So I find that that transition is really good. And then, like we talked about last week, addressing these narratives before we start down the path of really trying to make peace with food can also help alleviate some of the fears that pop up there. So just like a little bit of reasoning for why I tend to shift this one to a different place when I'm working with folks in a group or even individually.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, that makes so much sense.

Naomi Katz:

So having said that- and, you know, I've hinted a little bit about the narratives around food, right- but this principle is really all about letting go of value judgments about food. Just to be really clear and blunt right off the bat, there simply is no such thing as good food and bad food. Yes, some foods are more nutritionally dense than others. And some foods are more energy dense than others. But neither of those things is like inherently better or worse. This is very much where we get into that idea of like all foods fit, right? Is that like, yeah, all food isn't equal. But that doesn't mean that any of it is actually better than other food. That good or bad, better or worse- it's that black and white thinking- that binary thinking that we have literally talked about in every episode so far, that is just a trademark of diet culture. And by casting some foods as morally superior to other foods, it has this ability to convince us that we ourselves are morally superior when we eat some foods and morally inferior when we eat other foods. And as a result, we tend to feel shame or guilt around our food choices, and that shame and guilt can lead to things like restriction and binging. So unpacking those moral judgments we make about food is really important. Letting go of those moral judgments around food is also really important for learning to trust ourselves and our bodies. So building an awareness of the ways that diet culture portrays foods in a moral light, how we've internalized that morality about food- those- that black and white thinking, and how that thinking is interfering with our autonomous decisions, is the first step in making that shift. And you know, that includes looking at how the outside world is enforcing that kind of messaging in our lives. And this is a little bit more of a nuanced part of this principle. It's really important to look at the ways that food policing is actually body policing, sort of starting to unpack how many of our judgments about food being bad are actually judgments about fat bodies being bad. And how often we see tropes of, you know, racism, and classism, and things like that playing out in our food judgments. This is something that I've sort of been wading through in my head lately, and I posted on Instagram about this, around the time that we covered it in the last cohort of Nourish & Bloom, and I think it resonated with a lot of folks, that I think it's worth bringing up here. But I think it's really important to pay attention to how things like food policing and body policing tends to often be applied more heavily to people whose actual bodies are also more heavily policed- like by the actual police, not the food police. So, you know, we can think about it- one of the

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. biggest things that we see the food police pop up about- convenience food is bad. And that directly impacts poor folks, who also tend to be more heavily policed. We get all kinds of things about things like soul food, and like Southern food are bad. And that very much is reflective of the foods we see in Black culture. And, obviously, we know Black bodies are very heavily policed. Even things like rice is bad, tortillas are bad, beans are bad, things like that- which, we're talking about, you know, Latinx and Asian populations, who, again, tend to be actually physically more policed. And so I think it's worth looking at how these things intersect here. Yes, I remember when you posted that on Instagram a couple of months ago, and it just really blew my mind because I had never thought about this connection between the actual police and the food police until you pointed this out. And the connection is there- like it is really there. And I think that's a conversation worth having right now. But also something that we should just continue to examine and recognize, because there's- there's some connection there.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. And it makes sense that that connection is there. Because, you know, as we've learned, as we've discussed in previous episodes, we know that diet culture is an extension of white supremacy, and classism, and all of these systems of oppression, and so it tracks that these things would show up so clearly in our quote unquote, diet narratives too.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, yeah.

Naomi Katz:

But, as always, building awareness of them- like a conscious awareness of how these things intersect- helps us to both unpack them in ourselves, and also see where in the system things need to shift.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. So when we're talking about the food police, it's kind of easier to sort of think about it broken down into two separate types of police. And every time I say the word police, I always want to like figure out how to include a siren- like a wee-ooo- sound clip into this podcast, but I'm not that advanced in my podcast editing skills, so it's just not going to happen. But anyways, so we can break down the food police into the inner food police and the outer food police. Because while these things definitely affect each other, and we definitely internalize things from the outer food police, the way we deal with each of these things is somewhat different. So it can be helpful to look at the food police as extensions of this idea of interpersonal/intrapersonal/institutional levels of fatphobia that we've talked about before, in the first couple episodes of this podcast. So intrapersonal would be our inner voices and our inner food police. Interpersonal would be the outer food police, in the form of individuals, family members, friends, co workers, people like that. And institutional would be the food police on the level of things like medical professionals, the media, marketing, and other bigger things that occur in our society. And as with fatphobia, the experience of these different levels can be really different for people with different body sizes or identities. And intrapersonal food police can happen to anybody, but interpersonal and institutional food police are experienced exponentially more by people in larger bodies. So a part of this work can be to notice where you don't experience food policing, and begin to kind of pay attention as to how privilege might play into that.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, it's sort of that idea of how everybody can have bad body image, but only people who are actually in larger bodies experience weight stigma. You know, this i essentially that playing out, b t with food narratives instead f body narratives.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, yeah.

Naomi Katz:

So um, let's start with the inner food police. So this is like all the stuff that we've internalized over our lifetimes in diet culture. And it kind of breaks down into two things, our beliefs and our rules. I kind of like to think of this like squares and rectangles- you know how like all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares?

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

That's how my mind processes this too- where all rules are based on beliefs, but not all beliefs reach the level of being a rule.

Sadie Simpson:

Ooh, I like that visual there.

Naomi Katz:

So our beliefs are our general thoughts about food. So that includes things like fat in foods is fattening. Shout out to the 90s.

Sadie Simpson:

And Snackwells.

Naomi Katz:

Right? Or carbs are bad for you. Or that protein is like the best food group, and the thing we should be having the most of. Or, like we talked about, convenience food, processed food is bad. Or, like we talked about on the last episode, sugar is addictive. So those are all like beliefs that we might hold about food. Rules are beliefs that we act on. So if we are restricting the carbs we eat in a day because we believe that carbs are bad for us, that becomes a rule- just as one example. So you know, not all beliefs become rules. But even if they're not actively a rule, they can still have an impact on our relationship to food and our ability to honor our hunger. So the effect of rules is pretty clear, right? When you have a rule, you follow that rule, and you might be actively restricting something as a result of that rule. But what if we hold a belief like carbs are bad, but we still eat carbs? Like how does that play out? Well, more likely than not, we're probably going to feel a lot of guilt and shame about eating the carbs because of this belief. Or maybe we're actually going to subconsciously limit our carbs. We don't have a rule about it, but that belief means that we're careful, even if we're not consciously being careful. Or we end up splurging on carbs because we feel like we're rebelling against something. And that's something we talked about in a fair amount of depth on last week's episode about making peace with food. So a big part of this principle is building awareness of these things. Because we have to know they're there before we can shift anything about them.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. And I think it'll be important to discuss kind of how we can build some of this awareness. And throughout the rest of this episode, that's something that we're going to do, is kind of hit on some highlights of ways to cultivate a little bit more awareness around these things. Because again, it's hard to unpack and unravel something that you're not even aware of. So once we've identified these rules and beliefs that we may have, we can kind of start to look at where these things came from. And this generally ties to the outer food police because it's very rare that a lot of these rules just appear in our brains. Like, it's- it's very rare that we're gonna say, oh, all carbs are bad, because that's just a thought that we have had ourselves without hearing it from somebody else. Like these ideas and these thoughts come from other people and other sources. And questioning where we've learned or heard some of these beliefs and rules gives us the ability to kind of see if the sources are valid, and if we want to continue treating some of these sources as valid. So whenever we hear something like you should do X- so just an example, you should eat low fat foods- something to question would be says who. Like, who says that we should eat in one particular way, or we should exclude certain food groups, or whatever the thing is? So a really good example, and something that we've all probably experienced, or at least witnessed or seen, but in the exercise world, whenever you are learning a new exercise modality, or a new movement, or even something that you should do to rehab an injury- whatever the thing is- like, would you listen to a personal trainer, or a physical therapist, or somebody who has extensive knowledge in exercise science? Or would we want to get our advice from some fitness guru or Instagram influencer that basically just posts pictures of themselves working out, and they've gained a following of hundreds of 1000s of people, and all of a sudden, they know everything about exercise? I think that's a pretty like, obvious example, because there's lots of Instagram influencers out there that do this exact thing.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, like, I feel like when a physical therapist says, oh, you should, you know, do some movement every day for your back pain, you might be like, oh, that sounds valid. Whereas, like a fitness influencer is like, oh, you should exercise every day, without any like real basis in your own life or anything like that, it's it's hard to be like, oh, well, that sounds like something I need to take seriously.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, like, there needs to be some context, there needs to be some legitimacy there. And the same thing can be said for food rules, too. Like who decided these things? Are these rules based on evidence? Are they based on facts, science, research? Or did just some random Instagram influencer make up these rules, which is very problematic, and happens all the time?

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. And I think that one, especially, we'll probably dig into deeper when we get to the gentle nutrition part of the series, because I think that comes up pretty seriously there.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. I'm excited. Anyways, sometimes we noticed that certain sources or origins pop up more than others. And sometimes, we noticed that the origin of these beliefs are rooted in fatphobia, even if it is disguised by health.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I think that's one of the reasons why it's so important to track this stuff back to where we learned it. Like, what's the origin? Like, what are these rules going to accomplish for us?

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, yeah. Like identifying these rules and beliefs, and their origins, like you said, is a whole process in and of itself. And these things tend to be really deeply ingrained. So it does require us to notice those moments of either discomfort or dissonance. And whenever things come up, that we do begin to question like, what is the origin- having this presence of mind to kind of check in with ourselves, and notice what's going on in our heads, and notice what's going on with us personally. Because again, this stuff has just been ingrained in our beliefs forever.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. And we talked a little bit- I want to say in our diet culture episode- about how, within diet culture, we are sort of taught to not trust our feelings of things not being quite right. And so we end up following these rules, and thes shoulds, and stuff like tha , instead of like aski g ourselves, why doesn't this fe l right? I think that most of

Sadie Simpson:

Ooh. I love that. s, when one of these rules co es up- and especially if we sk ourselves that, you know, sa s who- maybe we can't answer tha question, or maybe the ans er to that question is som thing that doesn't sit right wit us, or something like that. An I think some of us would ev n say we already know when som thing feels uncomfortable, and like, doesn't quite align. But we're so trained within diet cul ure to just be like, well, tho e are the rules, and so I fol ow them, instead of lis ening to that, and like tun ng into that discomfort, and tr ing to be like what feels un omfortable here. First, we id ntify these narratives, we id ntify the rules, we identify th beliefs in the first place, th n we sort of track back to li e, where did I learn these? Wh t's the origin of this? Wh t's the goal of this? The ne t step is to sort of start co sciously reframing those ru es and beliefs when they pop up And there are three kind of ma n ways to start that work. So th first one is- and I'm going to sort of use one example of a be ief at the- and I'll sort of g ve an example of how that refr me would work in each of these ontexts, because I think tha 'll be helpful to like, giv a more practical understan ing of how these things pl y out. So the first one is, w can reframe based on an actua lived experience. So this is kind of powerful way to refra e because diet culture generall doesn't leave room for our actu l humanity and our actual l ved experiences. So rules ar rules for everybody, one siz fits all, if you can't follow he rule, it's your fault. t has nothing to do with what yo r actual lived experie ce is. And so this is a way f r us to bring our actual lived experience into the conve sation. There's- one very comm n belief would be dieting is t e best way to lose weight. So i we're going to reframe this based on our lived expe ience, we look at, you know what's our dieting hist ry? And we touched a little on h w powerful that reflection can e in like the- episode six, guess, which was the first

Naomi Katz:

The second way we can reframe is based on like episode of the series. And so if we look back at our own lived experience with dieting, maybe what we actually come up with s, I've never lost weight in t e long term from dieting. And o that reframe can be diets do n t cause me to lose weight in t e long term. And that's a way or us to work through and refr me that. actual facts. Again, this is powerful because diet culture is very rarely evidence based. And so being able to take a diet culture rule or belief and assess it against what the actual evidence and facts are, is a really helpful way to remind ourselves that those diet culture rules are not necessarily valid.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

So again, same belief, dieting is the best way to lose weight. Okay, but the fact is that for decades research has shown that 95% of diets don't work in the long term, and two thirds of people actually gain more weight than when they started. And you know, we dug into those statistics in that episode six too. So the reframe would be more like dieting is not effective for weight loss. The last one, and honestly, maybe the most powerful one, is that we can reframe these things based on our values. So again, you know, just to sort of contrast, diet culture very often does not actually align with our other values. And, you know, we've talked over the course of this podcast a number of times about how it's so impactful to look at how diet culture intersects with our values about other things, and how very often doing things like dieting doesn't align with our values in the long term. But this is just a great way of really pulling that, in relatio to a specific rule or a belief The belief- dieting is the bes way to lose weight. The refram might be the thin ideal i rooted in anti-Blackness, ablei m, and healthism, and the pursu t of intentional weight loss a d the upholding of a hierarchy f bodies doesn't fit within y value system. And then, y u know, I choose not o participate in those system . These things are impactf l because they very much refle t our own beliefs as opposed o just diet culture beliefs. I a so want to just point out t at- we mentioned a few things li e this in the past- this is great example of how simple is ot the same as easy. This take a lot of work and conscious eff rt. We almost have to be lik hyper aware of our thoug ts and feelings about food and odies in order to put thi into practice. And we use th word practice intentionally, ecause it is something that we ave to practice. It doesn't ju t like switch on overnight, or nything li And the other thing to keep in mind about this process is that it often feels, for lack of a better word, like icky. Because those beliefs are so deeply ingrained that we might not really believe our reframes at first. They sound a little hollow, almost. Like, okay, I'm saying this thing, but like, I don't know if I really think it's true. So first of all, I just want to validate that, like, that's okay. It's called cognitive dissonance, and it's just- it's simply a part of this process. It gets better the more we practice, and there are a couple of things that can help. So one of those things is to like, make sure that we're choosing reframes that like feel and sound authentic and impactful to us as individuals. So I find that it's really helpful if it sounds like your own voice in your head. Taking my words and repeating them probably isn't going to be like the most impactful or authentic way to do this. Trying different phrasing and different approaches that just feel more like how you would approach things, I think, is really, really helpful in making them feel more right to us. And then the other thing is to really just practice acknowledging the discomfort without judgment, and without trying to fix it. Sometimes, you know- to quote Brianna Campos, who we've mentioned in previous episodes- you just have to sit in the suck. You just- you have to sit there with the knowledge that it sucks right now, and it will get better over time. In those moments, it can be really helpful to use some like grounding techniques or coping mechanisms to just- to stay present, and to prevent like those thoughts spirals that can sometimes come up when we're uncomfortable, that can really like derail us from these reframes.

Sadie Simpson:

And it sucks to sit in the suck. But that's a part of it. It literally- it's why- that's why it's called that. That brings us to the outer food police. So we mentioned before that the outer food police are often the sources and the origins of our inner food police, and they often answer to that says who thing that you asked yourself about the inner beliefs and rules. So they are the sources of where these beliefs came from. And they're everywhere. And there's no reality, unfortunately, where we can exist without interactions from the outer food police. But it's important anyway to go ahead and identify them, so that way we can become aware when we're encountering diet culture, and we're encountering these things, that can help prevent us from internalizing it any further. And it doesn't make us immune- like, even once we become aware of these things, it doesn't make us immune to this happening on a constant and regular basis. However, it can make us more resistant. So something to try is start paying attention when some of these diet culture based messages show up in your life. Like, just start to notice where these things appear at your job, or within your family situations, or in advertising. And just simply begin paying attention to where these things show up. And once you've identified where in your life you're getting these messages, you can begin to address whether or not you want to continue to engage with those sources. And awareness is how we eventually get to make these choices, and how we begin to cultivate autonomy. Obviously, the big differences between the inner food police and the outer food police is that you can't change the thoughts and the rules of other people. Their beliefs are not our responsibility. But we can set boundaries, we can engage in conversations, and we can opt out when the situation calls for us just opting out. And generally the most common outer food police are our families. They are our friends. They are co workers and acquaintances, the media, social media, dominant culture, or medical or wellness professionals. So let's talk about each of these things and some techniques for how we can deal with them.

Naomi Katz:

So let's start with the family food police, especially because it's the holiday season, so some of us might already be sort of expecting to encounter the family food police.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. Oh, yeah. And a lot of us are going to be encountering family we may have not encountered for the last couple of years, either. Oh, wow. I didn't even think about that. But yeah, and we may be in different bodies than we were the last time them.

Naomi Katz:

So wow, that's an excellent point. Yeah. So we all Yeah. grew up with food rules and beliefs that we learned from our families. And these can be some of the most deeply ingrained food rules and beliefs because they've been around the longest. When I was in my instructor training to be a Pilates instructor, they basically told us to like memorize scripts for the basic choreography of each exercise. And the idea was that that- like the- the choreography itself could become like, just wallpaper in the background that we never had to think about. Like that part- the basics of the exercise- could be just autopilot, and we could give our conscious attention to additional cueing to help better the exercise for people, essentially. I feel like family food rules are basically that wallpaper in the background- like those family food rules are our autopilot. And you know, sometimes those rules are really obvious. You know, rules about sweets, or cleaning your plate, or something like that. But even when they're very clearly rules, sometimes we don't realize that we're still following them like years later.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Right? So I- just a little example- I- in my house growing up, we were never allowed to have more than- I don't want to say never- my recollection of my house growing up, is that we were always- if we wanted cookies, we got two cookies- not three, we get two cookies. And it wasn't until like the past few years that I remembered that, and I realized that I still had that in my head as the like, quote, unquote, right portion of cookies. And what was really interesting about that realization was that it didn't just mean that I only ate two cookies if I wanted more. It also meant that sometimes I ate two cookies, even if I really only wanted one.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, wow. Yes. I can't remember a specific rule that we had like that. But I do remember, always at family meals when we would eat with my grandparents, my papa Fred would always talk about being in the clean plate club- like that was a big deal for him. And he would always eat really fast. And again, just always talk about the clean plate club, not only for him, but for the rest of the family too. And it was a direct result for him, I believe, from living through the Great Depression, and like eating food, not knowing when your next meal would come, or how big your next meal would be. But it was something that was always brought up in like family meals and holiday meals. And that's something that I think about from time to time too- just when- when thinking about these different rules, and just family dynamics and norms that we tend to have.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, that's a great example. And I think that one especially is one that a lot of people have in their background. I feel like- so, you know, it's interesting, when we look at our grandparents, a lot of them did deal with like some serious food insecurity stuff.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

You know, you- your- your grandparents, Great Depression, my grandparents, you know, the Holocaust and concentration camps, and, you know, obviously, like serious lack of food. And so it's interesting to see how that plays out for their relationship to food moving forward. And it's actually, as Intuitive Eati g professionals, it's so importa t to recognize how food scarci y impacts our relationship wi h food the entire rest of o r lives.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

And I think it's something- we'll probably talk a lot more about this very specific, like clean plate type eating when we address feeling fullness, because I think that's one that a lot of people really struggle with, because they grew up with it for so many reasons.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

So yeah, some of these are like- they're rules. They're just straight up rules that we know that they're there. Sometimes they're more subtle. So like, maybe the household doesn't have a specific rule about something, but there's just like a general belief that's reflected in the household attitudes about food. I grew up in like the 80s and 90s, and that was like the height of the fat free craze. And while I have no recollection of anybody in my house ever like specifically saying that I couldn't or shouldn't eat fat, there definitely were never any full fat products in our house, from like milk to snacks. One thing that's very interesting to notice about that is how these rules vary from generation to generation.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my gosh, yes.

Naomi Katz:

You know, like kids these days would probably have high fat, low carb everything.

Sadie Simpson:

Yep.

Naomi Katz:

And so- and, I mean, that should tell us right off the bat that maybe some of these rules don't have, like a great basis in science, or evidence or reality. But-

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my gosh, yes.

Naomi Katz:

You know, this also goes for having a parent who's always dieting, or even, quote, unquote, watching what they eat, even if they're not like following a specific diet. Because the unspoken message and belief that that conveys to us, especially as children, when we're very impressionable, is that dieting is like normal, accepted appropriate behavior.

Sadie Simpson:

And not specifically talking about dieting or food, but something that's pretty closely related- there's this general belief or discussion that I've experienced at family holidays, and big gatherings, and reunions, and things like that, that there's always somebody making a comment about someone else, saying you look great when they're talking about somebody who may have lost weight, especially for somebody they haven't seen in a long time. And I know we talked about this in another episode, but it's always been assumed, or this general belief, again, that looking great equals losing weight. So that brings us back to the question, what does it mean if we gain weight? Does that mean we don't look great? And it just feeds into this whole other thing, when we're talking about just beliefs about not only food, but bodies as well.

Naomi Katz:

That's a really great example. And like, it's so pervasive. And again, coming into the holidays, and Thanksgiving, and whatnot, is something that I'm sure a lot of people have their radar up for right now. So and- or, you know, maybe it's something that perhaps we've done in the past, and can go into Thanksgiving this year thinking a little bit more about. You know, just since it's that time of year.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. And, I mean, being more critical of our own words, and the things we say to people, and the beliefs that we have. Don't talk about people's freaking bodies at Thanksgiving this year. But anyways.

Naomi Katz:

The other way that like family food rules can show up is that sometimes they're so like, wrapped up in family memories or traditions, that they're practically hidden. And like, unless we really start to dig deep into some stuff, like they're harder- they're much harder to discover. So just as an example of that, maybe your family was always really careful about like, sweets, or desserts, or something like that, but would go out for ice cream after like a kid's sporting event every time. And like, we can sort of see how like, that seems like a great tradition, and like just fun, awesome family time. And it's totally possible that that could be sending a message that sweets and desserts are earned through exercise. And so-

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. And so like, if we have that in our head as adults, it can be really helpful to try to sort of trace that back to oh, this was the thing I did when I was a kid. And it wasn't a rule. Nobody talked about it. It was just the thing that we did. But here's how it's showing up for me as an adult.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my gosh, yeah. And we're not saying you can't go eat ice cream after a sporting event. But we can also have ice cream other times, and I think it's important to be intentional with communicating this like to our kids, and with- within our family dynamics, that sweets don't have to be tied to exercise. And you know, we can get into that more later on the exercise episode.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, definitely. Just like with our inner food police, building an awareness of these family beliefs and rules is like the super important first step. It helps us deepen our understanding about where our own food beliefs and rules come from. And very often our families still hold some of these beliefs and rules. Maybe we grew up in the 80s and 90s, and our families still are resistant to keeping full fat choices in the fridge. And noting where this is still a part of the family dynamic can give us information about where we might need to prepare ourselves before engaging- like pre Thanksgiving, or whatever- and where we might need to set a boundary.

Sadie Simpson:

On that note, our friends, our co workers, or acquaintances often function as food police in our current lives, too. So thinking about your group of friends who may talk about their diets, or their exercise habits, or their bodies every single time they meet up. I know I've definitely been a part of groups like that. Or it might be a co worker who always talks about how quote unquote, bad they're being when they eat stuff, or your neighbor who is always obsessed with clean eating and wants you to do a Whole 30 with them- Whole 30 shows up again. It doesn't even necessarily have to be that they're giving you advice on how to do the things that they're doing. It's just this general conversation that comes from a place of moralistic food and body views, and the rules and beliefs being reflected in this. So addressing these family food police, and friends, and co workers, and just other food police in our lives- it uses a lot of the same techniques to kind of deal with these different groups of people, or different individuals. And it's all about addressing the interpersonal food police. If you refer back to our episode on diet talk and boundaries, we give some pretty specific information about some techniques on handling these conversations. So be sure to check back in there too.

Naomi Katz:

So that takes care of, you know, the interpersonal food police that we've talked about. Let's talk a bit about the institutional food police. And I think there's like two kind of significant forms that that takes. The first is like dominant culture and media. And the second is medical and wellness professionals. Let's just start with dominant culture and media. This shows up in like food labeling- so things like clean, or whole, or natural, or healthy, or guilt free. Or like on the other side, things that are labeled as like sinful or indulgent. And like, you know, you can hear all like these moralistic things just in these terms that we see in food labeling and food marketing. It also shows up in social media as like what-I-eat-in-a-day type posts that glorify certain eating styles. It shows up in marketing that focuses on like cleansing, or toxins, or, you know, things like that. It shows up in diet advice, using our favorite phrase to sell you your best life.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, live your best life.

Naomi Katz:

Live your best life, hashtag girl boss. And, you know, it's super important to take note of whose diets are being glorified in these kinds of marketing, and these posts, and things like that. Who's being held up as an expert on the food hierarchy, and who's being left out of the conversation or not being represented? I'm sure that if you did a- like a hashtag search or a Google search for some of these things, the vast majority of the people that you would see would be, you know, white, cisgender, able-bodied, having the appearance of maybe some kind of wealth, conventionally attractive, all of these things. And it's really important to take note of that- that we're not just glorifying what they're eating, we're glorifying their identities through what they're eating. Unfortunately, this like dominant culture food police type of thing is also kind of the hardest one to escape. It's literally everywhere. And you basically have no control over it, except to the extent that you can look for places to opt out. So some of the ways that we can do that is by like taking stock of who we follow on social media, and unfollowing people who routinely reinforce these kinds of food and body messages. Or if the people we follow on social media are like people we know, like friends or family, we can mute them or hide them if we don't want to go through the whole explanation of why we've unfriended or unfollowed

Sadie Simpson:

That mute button is gold. It's the greatest thing ever. Oh my god. There is no social media function that I'm more grateful for than muting and hiding.

Naomi Katz:

Yes. Blocking, maybe.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh yeah. That one comes in handy pretty often.

Naomi Katz:

It does. It also means taking stock of like other media that we consume- so TV, books, magazines, and things like that, that might promote these food and body messages, you know, and considering whether we want to like unsubscribe from some of those things, whether we want to opt out of them, or if we can assess whether maybe we still get something out of it, and we can trust that our awareness of the issue can like, help us be more resilient to it. As an example, Friends. I love the show Friends. I watch it on a pretty steady rotation, if I'm being perfectly honest. And I am so aware of how problematic it is. Like in between the funny parts, it's quite terrible. And, you know, I have some rules- I skip episodes with fat suits, because fuck fat suits. But you know, it's- it's a very, very problematic show in a lot of ways. And it has some nostalgia for me, and I do find parts of it very funny. And so like, I have an awareness around it. Ditto for Parks and Rec, and, you know, some of these other shows. Like just having the awareness of it means that I don't feel quite as, like, impacted by the diet culture of it. Having said that, it is important to recognize that whether I'm being impacted by it or not, other people are. And so I have problematic faves. We all do. And, you know, we can just sort of overall continue to build awareness of where this messaging shows up in culture. You know, we can't generally change food labeling, but you know what? We can write letters and like, contact these companies and make our case if we want to. That's always an option.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, I love that one. Even another example that's not necessarily in the media, but is everywhere we go, is seeing calorie counts on menus at restaurants. And that is so prevalent these days, pretty much everywhere. And like I do have to admit, sometimes I will go to a restaurant, or through the drive thru at McDonald's, or wherever, knowing that I want something, but then I see the calorie count, and I'm like, ooh, do I really want that. And even after like, just this many years of doing this type of work, like it still sometimes makes me question like my food choice. And then, now I do have the knowledge and the ability to be like, okay, this does not matter. I'm going to order what I want in the moment. Like this is this is irrelevant. But it does still kind of catch me off guard sometimes. So I know if that catches me off guard, having had a lot of this knowledge, and having done a lot of this work, it's got to impact other people so much greater. Yeah, I hate that calorie counts on menus are like a legislated thing now.

Naomi Katz:

You know, where like places are required to have Yeah. that. The harm that causes is just like, incalculable. You know, and it's the perfect example of institutional food police.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Because it's literally like public health policy. Like that's why we have that. And it's- it's terrible. Which actually is a great segue into what I like to think of as the chief of the food police, which is medical and wellness professionals. So I think it's really important to be super clear that like, every time a medical professional suggests weight loss or dietary restriction for any reason, they're acting as the food police. They're prioritizing diet culture and food rules over actual evidence based medicine. Learning to handle medical professionals who make weight based recommendations really requires like a fundamental shift in perspective about how we deal with medical professionals. You know, most of us are taught that doctors are authority figures. You know, they're the experts, they know best, and our job as patients is to be compliant. But doctors are just humans. They're fallible. They're subject to the same societal conditioning that the rest of us are, including diet culture. And, probably most importantly, doctors are service providers working for us, not the other way around. I also know that this is a really difficult shift to make. I would very much recommend- so Ragen Chastain does a lot of work around medical fatphobia, and weight stigma, and things like that. She has a pay-what-you-can webinar called Dealing with Fatphobia in the Doctor's Office that I would highly recommend as, you know, some support in trying to address that issue for yourself, if that's something that's coming up for you. She also has a website called haeshealthsheets.com- and we'll of course put links to these things in the show notes- but that HAES health sheets, she worked with a couple of Health at Every Size doctors to put together these sheets that address some specific health conditions that are very often approached through a weight centric lens- so things like diabetes, or high blood pressure, and things like that. If these are conditions we deal with personally, or that we fear that we're dealing with, we can sort of educate ourselves on what the Health at Every Size perspective on those conditions are before we go into the doctor's office. We can even bring those sheets into the doctor's office to show them, to sort of try and advocate for ourselves for weight neutral care there. It's also very notable that talking back to medical weight stigma is a pretty significant way that folks in smaller bodies can act as allies to folks in larger bodies. Because when a person in a larger body rejects diet and weight advice, or declines to be weighed, or you know, anything like that, there's this narrative that goes with that for medical professionals about being non-compliant, or argumentative, or emotional, or defensive, or, you know, whatever. But when a person in a smaller body does it, they can't apply that same narrative. And so it should not be taken more seriously, but because of the nature of weight stigma it often is. You know, and that's not easy, but it does get easier with practice. I used to not decline being weighed at the doctor's office. So you know, I was like, well, I don't really care, like the number doesn't mean anything to me anymore, so I'll just do it. And then, more and more, I was reading from other like from fat activists that like small bodied people declining to be weighed actually has this impact and can be an act of allyship. And so I started to decline being weighed at the doctor's office because I wanted to support that. And truthfully, I felt a lot of anxiety about it. And I have gotten pushback from medical providers about it. And I still have anxiety about it. But I do feel more and more certain about that choice. And I feel less anxiety every time I do it.

Sadie Simpson:

I did that for the first time this summer, too. And it was hard. Like it was challenging for me. But I know that even though it was challenging for me, as a smaller person, it's got to be more challenging for people who are in larger bodies, which is why I do feel like it's important for me to continue to decline being weighed whenever I go to the doctor, like you said, begin having more conversations, not only with my providers, but to like start the conversation with my provider and other providers even in the practice. Like let's start questioning this stuff a little bit.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. And I also- you know, just to speak to the fact that it gets easier with practice- I can say that my anxiety about declining to be weighed at the doctor's office- or even, I mean, I've even gone so far as to have like full on conversations with doctors where I'm telling- where I've had to tell them, I don't want to have- like, don't give me treatment advice based on my weight or my diet, like I'm only open to treatment options that don't involve those things. And I have to say that as much as like, yes, that causes anxiety, it is less than it started. And that's notable because my body is larger than it was then. So like there- there definitely is like a practice aspect to this that really helps to ease some of the anxiety.

Sadie Simpson:

So this brings us to the result of the food police. So the inescapable result of the food police is food guilt. And the actual definition of guilt is the fact of having committed a breach of conduct, especially violating law and involving a penalty, and a feeling of deserving blame for offenses. And food guilt is no different. So when we feel guilty about our food choices, it's because we believe that we have violated a rule, and that there should be a penalty, and that we deserve blame. And we can thank diet culture for all of that. So some things to consider the next time when we feel guilty about food is just to kind of question, again, what rule have you broken? Like diet culture is chock full of rules about what to eat, and when to eat, and how much to eat, and why to eat, and what not to eat. And all of these rules are bullshit. They are really, really deeply ingrained in us. And we didn't consent to any of them. So working through this question can bring awareness to all of the food rules that you might not even realize that you're following, because these things are sneaky. And then questioning what is the penalty? So broken rules usually involve punishment. On a personal level, this might look like restriction, or over exercising, or beating ourselves up emotionally, or any combination of these things. And it's really important to recognize that our fear of penalties on an interpersonal and systemic level are prevalent, they exist among all of us. And also questioning are we afraid that fatness and the loss of social capital that comes with all of that will be a punishment for breaking the rules? Noticing our personal patterns, and naming these higher level fears are important steps to healing. And again, this isn't easy. None of this is easy, but it is important. And lastly, questioning who deserves the blame? So- hint, hint- it's not you. It is diet culture. Diet culture is a system of oppression. And this $72 billion diet industry is built on that oppression. They make the rules, they prescribe the punishments, they profit off of the blame that you place on yourself. So recognizing that none of this is your fault allows you to forgive yourself, and to redirect your blame and anger towards the system that truly deserves it, which we mentioned a little bit a couple of episodes ago. Food- it's so interesting- like, I feel like you can't talk about food rules without talking about food guilt. Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Because that's why they matter. I mean, that's not even entirely true. They matter for a lot of reasons. You know, there's systemic reasons that they matter. There's interpersonal reasons that they matter. But on an intrapersonal level, the reason they matter is because of the guilt that they instill in us.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Being able to interrogate that guilt a little bit is a pretty important skill as we're going through this process. So as always, we want to sort of take a look at like, how does this principle apply outside of food? Like, how might it shift things for us outside of food? And I mean, okay, like, it's the food police. So like, obviously, it mostly applies to food. But there are some like impacts in other areas of our lives, too. So I mean, first and foremost, boundaries, right? Like boundaries are important for everything, as we discussed in our whole episode about boundaries, where we really dug into, like how boundaries are impactful far outside of just food and our bodies. So I have a tendency to think that one of the biggest benefits of an Intuitive Eating practice is the way it helps us to cultivate our critical thinking skills. And I think that this principle- I mean, among others- but this is definitely one of the principles that helps us hone that critical thinking skill, where it really helps us build awareness of harmful messaging. And like, yes, specifically harmful messaging about food and bodies. But having that skill can really help us to recognize other forms of harmful messaging, too. So messaging about racism, or about ableism, or transphobia, or whatever. You know, just as an example, you know, if we're talking about, you know, media consumption, how often are the shows that we're watching just like a cast that's just full of straight size, able-bodied, cisgender, pretty, white people? You know, like, where is other representation lacking? What message does that send us about people who don't fit those identities? And then, you know, the last thing is that, you know, we're practicing this technique for reframing harmful narratives within this principle. And again, that's a skill that we can use for other things, too. It's a technique that has applications far beyond just our food and our body beliefs.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. So that wraps up our episode about Intuitive Eating principle four, challenge the food police. Next week, we will be talking about principle five, which is discover the satisfaction factor. And there's a reason why we chose this one as the name of our podcast.

Naomi Katz:

Awesome. So Sadie, what's satisfying for you right now?

Sadie Simpson:

Cheese is satisfying for me right now. All kinds of cheese. So basically whenever the weather gets cold like it is right now, the only thing I want to eat is some kind of cheese product- whether it is like grilled cheese, or macaroni and cheese- and usually like some soup or something to go along with that. Anything warm, but also includes cheese. Specifically talking about cheese, there is this seasonal cheese that comes out at Aldi this time of year, like right around Christmas, and it is- they have a bunch of different like Christmas-y seasonal cheeses- but specifically there's one- it's like a white cheddar, but it's got cranberries in it, too. And it is so good.

Naomi Katz:

What?!

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. Right before this episode- I just made a grilled cheese out of it right before we started recording this and it was so great.

Naomi Katz:

Oh my god. It's so funny. You mentioned- you're like cheddar with cranberries, and I'm like, oh on crackers.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh yeah.

Naomi Katz:

And then you said grilled cheese and blew my mind.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. I'm a big fan of like fancy grilled cheeses. Which, you know, I feel like I never go out to eat any more- but if I go to a restaurant and they have some sort of fancy grilled cheese, or I've seen it on the menu as a grownup grilled cheese, like that is what I'm getting. Because I like cheese.

Naomi Katz:

That is awesome. And oh my god, I want a grilled cheese so badly right now just from this conversation, because grilled cheese is one of my favorite things of all time too.

Sadie Simpson:

Yep.

Naomi Katz:

So that's awesome.

Sadie Simpson:

So what's satisfying you right now?

Naomi Katz:

It's funny, because my answer is soup. It's that- that warm, cozy, like soups of all kinds. My husband makes some really wonderful homemade soups, but like-

Sadie Simpson:

Oooh.

Naomi Katz:

-and that- and I love those. But I'm even all about canned soup right now. Like- I just- all soup, all the time. It's basically where I'm at right now.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my gosh, soup and cheese season.

Naomi Katz:

Right? And you know, it's- it's funny because, like, we joke like, oh, sometimes satisfaction really is about food. But I also think that- I don't know about you- but like in my- in my situation at least, it's like- like, yes, it's about the soup, but it's really more about the experience of like that coziness, that like smuggled in for the cold weather, like, holidays coming up. It's that feeling more than just like the soup itself.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, yeah.

Naomi Katz:

And so it's more about like connecting to that than it is, just, I like soup. Don't get me wrong. I do like soup. But you know?

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, for sure. So if you would like to continue this conversation about grilled cheese, and cheese in general, and soup, be sure to come over to our Instagram page, we are @satisfactionfactorpod on Instagram. Be sure to comment, send us a message, let us know what you think about this episode, let us know about your favorite soup, or your favorite kind of cheese, whatever. Just come send us a message. We are always excited to hear from you.

Naomi Katz:

Or send us your questions about any other Intuitive Eating things that you want to want us to address during this podcast series, too.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, yes. And also, if you want to support us, and you're loving the Satisfaction Factor podcast, be sure to subscribe, rate, and review. And if you're listening in Apple podcasts, especially, leave us a rating and review there, because this really helps us reach more people.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, and we super appreciate it when y'all do that.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Alright Sadie. Well, I guess that wraps us up for today. So Happy Thanksgiving, everybody, and we will talk to you next week.