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  • Katie Davis, RDN, CD

How to Know if Food Rules are Messing with Your Life




Food rules can interfere with how you want to live your life. You may think “I don’t have any rules about food.” Food rules can be subtle. They often develop over time without you even noticing. It can be helpful to check in with yourself about your approach food and if is it keeping you from living your fullest life. Here are some questions to help you get started.


*Trigger warning: if you are currently battling an eating disorder or have in the past you might want to skip this post.


Common ways your food rules might be interfering with your life include:


  • You say no to social gatherings where food will be served

  • People in your life express resentment or frustration about your rigidity around food

  • You spend a large amount of your day preparing the food you are willing to eat

  • You purposely avoid certain food groups or carbohydrates, protein or fat

  • You will not eat after a certain time of night

  • You feel were “good” or “bad” based on what you ate

  • You miss out on going out to dinner with friends or family because you want to be in control of the preparation of the food

  • You do not go out to eat or pick up food you have not prepared yourself

  • You feel like you need to always be the one to pick the restaurant if going out to eat with others

  • You don’t like other people to be around while you eat or watch you eat

  • If food is brought into work and you didn’t know about it ahead of time, you refuse to eat it

  • You like to plan out every single bite of food that you will eat. You do not allow yourself to eat anything that is not planned

  • You feel like you must weigh and measure everything you eat

  • People comment often on what you eat or even how food runs your life

  • You find yourself thinking about food all the time, but not allowing yourself to eat it

  • You believe you must exercise to “make up for what you ate”

  • You have a list of foods -- either in your head or written down that you are not allowed to eat

  • You avoid eating until a certain time of day

  • You have a specific number in your head for the calories you are allowed to eat in a day

  • You find yourself obsessing over what you ate -- especially if it was not planned

  • You have a specific number of calories you allow yourself to eat for a meal

  • You deny yourself food when you are hungry

  • You believe you must exercise before you are allowed to eat

  • You are constantly searching for ideas of how to eat more “clean” or in a “healthier way”

  • You feel you can only eat certain foods on “cheat days”

  • You will not allow yourself to eat your favorite foods or foods you loved as a child



If any of these beliefs sound familiar to you, food rules may be messing with your life. It is a great first step to recognize that your approach to food might be limiting the life you want for yourself. You can release yourself from restricting food rules. We can help. Appointments with our skilled dietitians can be easily made here.

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