The Food Police Rules and Regulations

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
See more: healthy eating food


Thanks for putting it in perspective....I knew everything you said before I read it but sometimes you just need to hear/read it coming from someone else to have an "ah-ha moment". Thanks for taking the time! Report
Well, that was an ah-a moment! I have frequently just blown off a whole weekend because of one bad choice. But, as I read the article I remember numerous times telling my boys, because of this "treat," you will need to have extra fruit (or something equally as healthy). Never, did it occur to me to treat myself that way! Report
This is a brilliant article, thank you. The illustration of how it would be if a parent treated a child this way really brings home how bizarre and stupid this behaviour is! Report
This reminds me of a post a facebook friend made on my page. To paraphrase, she basically said saying "Oh, I've eaten [BAD FOOD HERE] I might as well eat what I want" is like dropping your cell phone and then saying "Oh well, I dropped it I might as well stomp on it until it breaks." Ever since then, I've tried to remember that when I've decided to have something deemed "bad." Maybe it doesn't always work out to be within your calories but sometimes those "bad" things keep you on the road to the overall good thing which is a better health. Better mental health is just as valuable as better physical health and sometimes that's exactly what those strategic "bad" things are--investments in your mental health. Or at least recharging your attitude! :) Report
I too have done this many times - eat way too much of the wrong thing and then say well since I 've done this I guess I might as well just give up.

But this time... I lost about 12 lbs before I went on vacation - all inclusive (or should they call it all food?). Ate healthy for the most part - but who can resist the desserts? Came back up 4 lbs but instead of saying no use trying anymore I got right back at it and lost that 4 lbs and another 5 lbs so far. In a week I'm off again on vacation - a cruise this time. So will I gain - yes? Will I let it stop me from my getting back into it again when I return - no? Will I beat myself up for the weight I will probably gain - no!!!!

It is not the journey itself but the steps you take on the journey that count - you may stumble - but just get right back up and take the next step! Report
I sometimes describe myself as a recovering emotional eater/junk food junkie. Eating junk (from chips and candy to fast food meals on a regular basis) was my M.O. The Food Police (whether my own internal Officer or someone else's) really like to hound people like me. But I'm not letting them anymore.

I am learning to eat well-balanced, nutritious meals on a regular basis. I am also learning that I can have some treats every now and then (though I still think Girl Scout cookies are evil). No, one slice of pizza or cup of ice cream (the REAL stuff, not sorbet or anything like that) won't totally derail my healthy lifestyle journey. Those things are a part of healthy lifestyle for me...physically and mentally. Report
I do believe this blog is preaching to me. I took my husband to the Cheesecake Factory for his birthday. I made sure to eat like a bird all day to save up my calories. When I got there I tried to order healthy, ex. spinach dip, salmon, etc. I even had the waiter bring me a to-go box, and divided my food up before I started eating. Thinking I was doing everything correct, I enjoyed myself and floated on a cloud all the way home. I got home, tallied up my caloric intake, and cried. I beat myself up for 3 days over that meal and spiraled way down (Baskin & Robbins Cookies and Cream down,down). It took my husband giving me a firm talking to to get me back on track, but I still slip and berate myself. It's hard not to fuss after all the hard work put forth to eat in moderation. This blog showed me that it's not a one-woman show. I'm not the only one. Maybe now, I won't be so hard on me. I don't need to be put on punishment!!! Report
Oh my goodness, you had me starting my day with a good laugh. And only because I could put myself in that exact same frame of mind. Thank you for making me see this issue in a different way. The next time my attitude goes towards the "I blew it, might as well put butter on that popcorn...", I am going to think about those Food Police thoughts, appreciate that food that I just ate, and get on with healthy living. Report
Loved this blog! It is truth! The Food Police of the mind are ridiculously harsh and false. No one eating experience can or should ruin a healthy life and eating pattern. Steady good nutrition and fun foods in moderation go hand in hand for the balanced person. Report
Like you I did learn that I can have my cake and eat it too. Although now I dont eat as much cake. I was laughing reading this because I saw myself doing this often. Great article, it's definitly one to share. Report
Yeah, I've been there and done that! Now I eat moderate well balanced meals with an occasional goodie. I enjoy an occasional Girl Scout cookie as a part of my regime and the numbers are still going down. My energy levels are super and I am going to rejoin my gym. Because I am not forbidden to have certain things, I am not lusting after them either. Report
I find that I fall victim to the Food Police pretty often, writing off the entire day when I splurge with some extra candy or ice cream after lunch. Moderate portion sizes and a balanced diet is important, but I'm finding that it's also important to remember that breaking the rules and having some extra-cheese pizza one night will not result in me immediately gaining back 10 pounds by the next morning, and therefore I shouldn't get frustrated, revert to "comfort eating," and wolf down an entire sleeve of Thin Mints. It's nice to read someone else's words expressing a similar sentiment. Great post! Report
Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.