The Food Police Rules and Regulations


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  62 comments   :  21,364 Views

Have you ever seen some of the old Seinfeld episodes with The Soup Nazi? He has a small soup kitchen/diner on the show, and very strict rules about how you get your food. You must enter in a certain line, refrain from speaking, ask no questions, order correctly, slide over and pay, pick up your soup, and leave. If you fail at any of the steps, he grabs your order and yells ''No Soup For You!'' and you have to leave, hoping that sooner rather than later, you’ll be back in his good graces and allowed to enter the diner to try one more time to get your soup. 

The longer I am able to maintain my weight loss, the more successful I am with exorcising the food police mentality from my life. I’m not quite sure when any of us learned the thought process that if we eat something that we deem ''unhealthy'', we should just give up for the remainder of the day.  I know my parents didn’t teach me that. Can you picture how it would be if our parents had treated us the way we treat ourselves as grownups? It would have gone something like this:

Mom to Jane: ''I saw how much chocolate cake you ate at that birthday party!  You should be ashamed of yourself!  Since you messed up like that, you cannot have any healthy food for dinner.  Here’s a bag of Cheetos and a quart of ice cream.  In the morning, I’m going to rehash this again and make you feel guilty about it, and then feed you nachos for breakfast.  Heck, now that I think about it, I don’t know how long I’ll hold this over your head. You better go get the fat jeans out of your closet!''

I mean really, what parent would do that?  So why, as supposedly sane adults, do we sometimes enact that very same scenario out in our own lives?  Usually, it happens as a result of putting ourselves on some restrictive diet. You know the ones…the grapefruit diet, the soup diet, the ''I can’t eat any real food so I’ll just pretend I’m eating food'' diet.  Then we get so hungry that we show up at a buffet and all of the sudden, we are looking at five empty plates on the table and wondering what just happened. Then, on the drive home, we start flogging ourselves for failing.  We decide that the ENTIRE DAY is a total loss, so we drive thru someplace and order a gigantic ''no one should drink this'' sized shake.  The next thing we know, it’s been days since we've been to the gym.  We start to say ''Jim who?'' while we're digging through the drawer looking for the stretchy sweat pants. 

Well, this is your wakeup call if you’re there right now. Recognize this disastrous thought process and call it what it is – a big stinking lie. You can have real food and eat it, too. You can balance treats within your calorie range. You can have an occasion where you have blatant disregard for your normal diet, and then leave that party and get right back on track with no Food Police Penalties. Trust me, because I know this to be true. Over these last three years, I have been known to haunt my favorite Mexican food restaurant that I used to call the ''Cavern of Sin'. You’d find me there sipping a frozen margarita, enjoying a meal, and dare I say it – enjoying sopapillas with honey melting on them. Guess what? I’m still down those 90+ lbs. I don’t call it the ''Cavern of Sin'' anymore. I’m learning that there is no bad food; there is moderation, realizing that there are not Food Police Penalties that take me out of the game like some hockey player that gets sent to the bad boy box for fighting.  There is only me and how I see my opportunity to manage my total intake for the week, my workouts for the week, and when I’d like to schedule one of those really fun meals with my best friend in tow. Now we go to the Whole Foods organic salad bar more often than we do the Mexican food place, but we still enjoy both.

My encouragement to you is twofold. One, stop the lie in its tracks next time and realize that your day, your week, your month, your life is not destined for failure over any one meal. Two, look for a method of eating that allows you to live and enjoy the rest of your life in a healthy manner. Chose to EDIT what you eat, not DIET your life away. 

Send me a message on Twitter @michelenecleary this week and let me know how you #eathealthy.

Are you trapped in a punishing cycle with the Food Police? How can you get out right now and recognize that the past is behind you, and move forward to the next healthy meal and a good workout?  Post a goal here that you intend to accomplish today to move you in a healthy direction.

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  • 62
    I feel so trapped I dont think I'll ever get out. - 5/7/2012   5:53:24 AM
    What a wonderful approach. I had to start out strict and grandually loosen the reins as I became more used to eating in a more healthy manner. I think if we really just listen to ourselves and keep our heads we can come to the place of a healthy balance. Great post! - 5/6/2012   12:56:14 AM
  • 60
    I think the "Mom to Jane" section is so true. I know I have done that many, many times to myself but would never do that to a child. Also, I love the EDIT not DIET idea. - 5/4/2012   2:28:07 PM
  • 59
    I am sure you were sitting beside me when you wrote that. - 5/4/2012   10:51:58 AM
  • 58
    So true, and well said. It's tough to let go of all-or-nothing thinking (yeah, and where DID we learn to think like that?), but liberating. - 4/1/2012   6:43:23 PM
  • 57
    Very good article and great timing for me personally! Thanks for being real :) - 4/1/2012   1:53:20 PM
  • 56
    Fantastic article all around. It's true how we often talk to ourselves in a way we'd never talk to another person. - 3/20/2012   3:46:16 PM
  • 55
    Great blog!!! I LOVE the parent analogy! How crazy is that? Made me look at this from an entirely new (and healthier) perspective. - 3/20/2012   10:11:24 AM
  • 54
    It has been months since I last tracked a meal. Today, it is on! - 3/19/2012   4:42:52 PM
    This is usually a big issue for me. Although I am very happy to say this time I have had a more sane approach to losing weight and I can eat a treat without the days of guilt that follow. I think it is down to the fact that sparkpeople makes me feel like this is a lifestyle change rather than just a diet. - 3/19/2012   5:07:56 AM
    This blog and the comments are fantastic? Thank you Everyone! Finally someone has put into words what I have been trying to do for the past 9 weeks - EDIT instead of DIET. I know with this change in attitude, I will be sucessful. Those of you who have shared your positive results and thoughts are very helpful and motivating to the rest of us. Thank you. - 3/18/2012   10:28:34 PM
    I used to live like that too! One slip up and the whole day was ruined, might as well eat whatever I want! Not any more. Just like the author I have occasional free meals and I get right back on the horse. I've lost 125lbs and have kept it off for 5yrs doing this. The key is to plan your free meals and to go right back to normal healthy eating right after. - 3/18/2012   1:45:56 PM
    It's been months since I had some ice cream. I usually feel so guilty after having ice cream. But I think I will have some tonight. - 3/17/2012   1:27:44 PM
  • 49
    I love EDIT not DIET.Thanks so much for sharing your motivational words with us. - 3/16/2012   6:21:34 PM
  • 48
    Eating better- eating less! - 3/16/2012   4:51:19 PM
  • 47
    I love this blog!!! So true! Banish the food police!!!EDIT vs DIET is a great one. Here's my accountability. I am going to go do my workout right now, so that I don't dork around and miss it. Thanks for the motivation!
    Donna - 3/16/2012   4:13:15 PM
    I like your EDIT vs. DIET, it is good to hear that someone else is taking that approach and has been able to achieve weight loss. Saying to myself that I am no longer on a diet, but I am educating myself on what is healthy eating and healthy portions, as this is a new lifestyle for the rest of my life has been the 'lightbulb' moment for me this time - 3/16/2012   3:19:28 PM
    Great blog! - 3/16/2012   3:11:33 PM
  • 44
    Thanks, good moitavation article - 3/16/2012   3:10:53 PM
  • 43
    Thank you - 3/16/2012   1:54:00 PM
  • 42
    What a great blog! Now, I need to put it in practice!! Thank you for the wake up! - 3/16/2012   11:29:42 AM
  • 41
    LOL! me and hubbie should try hard not to police each others food intake, exercise or even medication taken. LOL! - 3/16/2012   10:55:46 AM
  • 40
    So true - You just described me - - 3/16/2012   10:37:29 AM
  • 39
    Great blog and so true! - 3/16/2012   10:35:42 AM
  • 38
    Thank you for the great blog. I love the Edit the Diet analogy. I've lost over sixty pounds this time around and it was extremely easy with that strategy although I really hadn't thought about it in exactly those words. The only thing I totally cut from my diet is white sugar because it was like poison to me. I have found that honey, molasses, brown sugar etc really taste better and don't adversely affect me like white sugar does. - 3/16/2012   10:23:13 AM
  • 37
    Excellent! - 3/16/2012   10:22:01 AM
    this is something i am still learning. My husband took me to a chinese buffet last night for the first time since 2011. I didn't overeat and i had plenty of water with my meal, I still got to eat some pretty tasty food but I only ate a 3rd of what i normally would on an outing. I stayed under my calorie intake and i had fun.. - 3/16/2012   10:18:42 AM
  • 35
    This has been the vicious cycle I have gone through for many years now. Thankfully I have moved on from that and I'm a month in on my new lifestyle change to be healthy. Great post!!! =D - 3/16/2012   9:22:42 AM
  • 34
    Great article. I could not have said it better. I have been more successful with this approach then any of the "restricted foods" diets. - 3/16/2012   9:14:46 AM
  • 33
    EDIT...LOVE IT!!! - 3/16/2012   5:36:56 AM
  • 32
    Great blog! - 3/16/2012   4:34:58 AM
  • 31
    Thanks for an excellent blog. I love the EDIT outlook rather than DIET, and will repeat the mother-daughter dialogue to myself to take me away from the guilt syndrome. Portion control and exercise are becoming my mottos. - 3/16/2012   3:37:50 AM
  • BSCOTT58
    I love the EDIT vs DIET and we should throw in LIVE IT too. We just can't keep "punishing" ourself when we "slip up". We are surrounded by temptations every day and we are human not robots. I love SparkPeople because it helps me know "how much" I "went over" so I can eat something I normally don't and not "panic" over it. It gives me the "control" I need without any judgement . Thanks SparkPeople! - 3/15/2012   11:35:59 PM
  • 29
    The Mom to Jane convo was just a hoot! Thanks for the morning laugh. Already after only a couple of weeks I am starting to see past the puritan diet ethic I've previously employed and am started to stroll in the realms of long term and balance. Thanks for this - 3/15/2012   9:33:17 PM
  • 28
    I love this blog. I have lost over 170 pounds and I have to say this concept clicked for me this time around. I look at as if I am taking care of myself... no deprivation! I mess up, then I think of the Japanese proverb "fall down seven times, stand up eight" and remind myself that it's about balance. Shrug it off, make a plan of action to get back on track, and move forward. It is that easy! - 3/15/2012   9:25:42 PM
    Sopaipillas! It seems no restaurant in Michigan knows how to make them. When they claim to, it's usually fried tortillas - bleh. I want to make a trip to New Mexico or El Paso and get a sopaipilla fix.

    Now that that digression is out of the way...

    You make some good points here, but I have had a different parenting/food realization this past week. If my son asked me for sweets as often as I eat them myself, I would definitely stop him - so why don't I stop myself? - 3/15/2012   8:34:50 PM
  • 26
    Here Here@! Let's all try to remember that one meal does not a streak - good or bad - make! It is the lifestyle that counts. - 3/15/2012   6:36:25 PM
  • 25
    A nutritionist told me years ago that she did not like to put her clients on diets but to teach them portion control as that is what works. Depriving oneself of something you like only make you crave for it more and then you go get a lot of it and then beat yourself up for doing so. It worked for me and I still remember that until now so I do watch how much I eat and try not to go overboard with my selection of food. Thanks for the reminder. - 3/15/2012   2:37:38 PM
  • 24
    Great blog. I totally relate to this one. - 3/15/2012   2:28:17 PM
    Thank you for your thought inspiring words. - 3/15/2012   1:03:28 PM
  • 22
    Great Post! Wonderful thoughts to digest, learn and take to heart. I beat myself up so many times when I gave in....which spiraled to giving in all day and the get the idea. You've got me already thinking about strategy for the upcoming weekend - my kids have soccer and we will be on the road - alot :/ I'll be looking for the places where I can eat at least reasonably light - with no guilt attached. - 3/15/2012   12:36:03 PM
  • 21
    I usually don't have a problem with the food police at my work. I had one lady question me when I had a piece of cake. She asked "Is that in your diet?" My reply was "Yes! Obviously I'm eating it." I have taken control of my eating and track my food. If I feel like having a piece of cake I'm not going to allow anyone to make me feel bad about. I just put it in my tracker and keep going. - 3/15/2012   12:04:21 PM
  • 20
    I just loved the "parent" conversation but it is oh so true! I can't think of one mother who would talk like that but we do it to ourselves all the time! I have learned, and at this point really truly believe that the word "failure" is NOT allowed in my vocabulary any more, just ways of trying that don't work so well for me! - 3/15/2012   11:59:06 AM
  • 19
    Refraining from punishing myself is a huge daily struggle. I feel a blog inspiration coming on! - 3/15/2012   11:48:51 AM
    Mom to Jane--funny, but thanks for the reminder that moderation is the key and going crazy once in awhile is not a sin, and we won't get shoved in the dorito bag for enternity. - 3/15/2012   11:24:09 AM
  • 17
    I can't help but chuckle remembering the soup nazi.
    He really did exist and his soup was wonderful and it came with fresh fruit. I should have learned my lesson from him a little bit of healthy is all we NEED to get our bodies properly fueled. - 3/15/2012   11:06:48 AM
  • MSGO72
    Michelene, thank you for reminding us to have mercy on ourselves! - 3/15/2012   10:40:01 AM
  • 15
    What a great way to look at it, thank you! - 3/15/2012   10:39:08 AM
  • AMYLOU421
    What a great reminder! - 3/15/2012   10:12:57 AM
  • 13
    what a wonderful reminder! Chose to EDIT what you eat, not DIET your life away-- WELL SAID! I'm quoting!!! - 3/15/2012   9:44:19 AM

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