5 ways to tame your inner-dialogue around food

stop the inner food dialogue


I’m about to get into your head.


I’m going to speak out loud what anyone who has ever struggled with food says to themselves daily.


Scenario:  It’s the end of the day.  You’ve already had dinner and it was a healthy one at that!  Balanced, lots of veggies.  You did everything “right” today.  And you even worked out.  You’re feeling pretty successful.


Your spouse asks if you want to watch Black Mirror tonight and you’re game.  You really need to relax after a pretty amped up and stressful week.


Instinctively you head for the kitchen to get some snacks for TV watching and the inevitable dialogue begins.

It goes like this:

“Ok, some ice cream would be really nice.  I know there is some in the freezer.  

But, I really don’t need it and i’m not even hungry.  But, I deserve a treat, it’s been such a stressful week!

{closes the fridge – and opens the cabinet}  

“I could just have some crackers and cheese.  I mean, that’s a pretty good choice and I can have some fruit with it too.  No, wait (checks food log) I’ve already had too many carbs today, I should just have the fruit.  Ugh, but I am really not in the mood for fruit.  I just want the freaking ice cream.  

Ok, I will have it.  I deserve it.  I’ll do an extra workout tomorrow. “


“No wait, seriously Jenny, you’re going to just regret it tomorrow and you really aren’t hungry and don’t need the ice cream.  Yeah, I can live without it.”

{heads downstairs to start watching the show – Hubby asks you to get him some ice cream from the fridge}.  

“Oh crap, now I’m going to have to watch him eat ice cream while I’m just sitting there?  That sucks.  Maybe I’ll just have one bite of his and that will satisfy me.   

{Grabs ice cream from freezer and two spoons.  Takes the first bite.}  

“That was so delicious. I really do feel like I need just a little something sweet.  There is nothing wrong with that!”  

{Takes another bite.  And another.  Goes upstairs to get a bowl (and some whipped cream), and while up there reaches for the fruit, cheese and crackers, and a glass of wine for both of them too.}

 “I’ve already messed up the day. I’ll be better tomorrow.  So I might as well eat everything I want now.  Because, tomorrow I’m going to be good. And at least I had some fruit with it right? Tomorrow will be different.”

{finishes the pint with hubby along with a sleeve of crackers with cheese and 2 glasses of wine}.  

“Ugh, why did I do that!  I feel sick now and I am going to feel like crap tomorrow.  What is wrong with me?  Why does this always happen?”

{and….End scene}



Right about now you’re either smiling in a knowing, I *get* you sort of way or completely creeped out because maybe you think I’ve been hanging out in your head or spying on you in the kitchen.


Its neither.


It’s because I used to have the same conversations time and time again with myself and it always ends the same:


Miserable either way.


#1 – you either choose to eat the said trigger food after much dialoguing and debate and regret it later




#2 – you deny yourself of the said trigger food but it nags at you all night and you feel FOMO and deprived and are using sheer willpower not to grab the spoon right out of your husband’s hand


It can feel like a lose-lose situation no matter what you choose.  And you waste all of this precious time spending time in your head, filled with conflicted feelings, worry and even dread instead of dropping into your body to see what you really need right now.


Let me give you a 3rd solution and some strategies to back it up.  




If you feel like that is an impossible solution, read on.


The problem with all the dialoguing we are doing is that it often leads us to the same exact spot as if we hadn’t had the dialogue to begin with.  Think about it.  Out of 10 times that you’ve had this conversation, how many times has it led to doing the very thing you wanted to do initially?  (i.e. eating the ice cream) And how many times has it led to not doing that thing (i.e. using willpower or the clenched fist method).  I’m willing to guess that more times than not it’s the former.  And, here’s something to consider – the times you ended up denying yourself and using will power, it’s likely only to have worked for a little while.  Remember, what you resist persists.  You will eventually give in to that craving and eat.  It might not be that day but perhaps days, weeks or months later when the will power strategy throws you under the bus, as it always does.


When I was a coach at a national health and weight management company, which focused on aggressive weight loss eating only 800-1000 a day, we would coach our clients to skip Thanksgiving and eat meal replacements instead.  Many would comply and just sit there at the table while everyone else was eating.  I’d get calls the Monday afterwards saying they felt so proud of themselves for having the resolve to not eat that night but would express major remorse to me because they ended up binging on all the left-overs the next day.


Restriction, scarcity and forced denial of pleasure or simply using will power DOES NOT WORK nor will it ever work long term.


So, what are we to do?


Here are 5 ways to tame the inner-dialogue around food and drop into embodiment, body-awareness and pleasure with food instead.


1.When you notice the familiar pull of a desire to eat, even when you’re not hungry or at a specific time of day each day, recognize that you are following a food script.  A food script is a cue (watching TV with spouse) that triggers our desire to eat, even when we don’t really want or need to eat.  We instinctively follow the script unless we create a stop-gap in the routine and habit.  So, step one is notice the food script as it’s happening. (learn more about food scripts here)



2. In this moment, instead of having a dialogue or trying to talk yourself out of eating or following the food script, just stop, look and listen.  Isolate the underlying emotion driving you to eat (boredom, sociability, stress etc).  Step two is isolating the emotion.



3. Make a decision right away.  No dialogue.  At the end of a long day where we have possibly made thousands of decisions both big and small, we just don’t have the bandwidth or wherewithal to agonize over more decisions.



4. If you decide to eat the ice cream (or whatever else it may be), agree to own the decision, without remorse, guilt or morality.  Drop into your body and bring pleasure and awareness to this decision and eating experience.  After all, why eat the ice cream if you’re not even going to enjoy it fully?  Eat it mindfully and with an abundance mindset knowing that you will listen to your body and know that you can stop whenever you want because you will always have that food available.  No false or self-prescribed scarcity here.



5. Alternatively, you give yourself permission to take a 20 minute barrier break before going back to that decision.  Watch Game of Thrones with the hubs, do something nourishing for yourself (bath, aromatherapy, call a good friend, take a walk, journal, light yoga etc) and then check in again after 20 minutes to see if that food is still calling to you or perhaps the desire has abated.  If it is still persisting, go back to #4 and do it without any remorse or morality.  If you notice that the urge has subsided or that you’re in bed and have forgotten about it all together, than that’s a win too.



In summary, agonizing about our food decisions and being in decision anxiety can cause us to swing the other direction into binging, guilt and staying stuck in the ever-persistent polarity of binging and restricting.  You have another choice – and that is trust, listening and compassion for your body, your urges and your emotions.


Stop the inner dialogue and get into body-trust and eating empowerment.  


Let me know how these strategies work for you!  


For those really tough situations, download my interactive Emotional Eating Fridge Flowchart to learn exactly what to do when you’re in decision anxiety.  This mind-map tool will guide you gently to a decision that will make sense, fulfill your needs and put you back in the driver’s seat feeling empowered around your food choices and with eating.  Click here to download it right away.  And good luck!