Challenging Your Food Rules


A huge part of learning to eat intuitively again is challenging your food rules and rituals. There are often many rules/ways of eating that you have been abiding by for years. Diet culture often inflicts these rules and ways of eating as healthy and normal but are actually disordered ways of eating. It can be extremely hard to acknowledge our food rules and rituals as disordered, however with time, patience, and practice we can slowly begin to challenge our food rules one-by-one on our path to food freedom.


However, before we can begin to challenge our food rules it is so important that we provide our brain with adequate energy to focus, comprehend, and work our way through troublesome food rules. If you have been underfueling your body it will have less energy and motivation to comprehend your food rules. Your intuitive eating journey can only begin when you reach a stage of being adequately nourished by initially focusing on regular and adequate meals.


Beginning the Process

Step 1: Identify Your Food Rules

  • There are many food rules and rituals out there that we may be adhering to. Figuring out our food rules can be overwhelming and tricky. We have a great resource that we provide clients and potential clients to try and discover some of their own food rules. Click here to request your own free copy of this resource. It can also be helpful to speak directly with a dietitian to discover various food rules you may have.

Step 2: Start Small

  • Challenging your food rules is by no means easy. Challenging a food rule can evoke a sense of losing control, stress, anxiety, etc. That is why we focus on starting small. After you have checked all the boxes or made a list to identify your food rules, start with the easiest rule to challenge first. Something as small as allowing yourself to have a snack in between meals. Try having a snack between meals a few days a week and slowly work your way up to every day. Another example of a food rule to begin challenging is eating past 7 or 8pm at night. Diet culture often scares us into believing our digestive tract stops at night and we cannot eat past a certain time. Well, we are here to tell you that you totally can eat at 9pm at night and nothing bad will happen to you. Start small by eating a few minutes after your normal cut-off time and work up to hours after your cut off time. You will eventually see that nothing bad happens when you eat past 8PM. 

Step 3: Repeat!

  • Once you have successfully challenged a food rule you can begin to conquer the next smallest and the next until eventually there are no more rules left to challenge.

Why this Matters…

As mentioned above, having to challenge and break your food rules is not easy however it is essential. There are many benefits to challenging and breaking your food rules such as:

  • Less likely to binge on certain foods or during certain times of the day: when When we pay attention to external sources that determine our hunger and fullness cues, those internal cues may go away or be hard to listen to. Restrictive food rules can even lead to binging or eating beyond the point of comfortability.
  • Improved Relationships: food rules can often deprive us of some of the best experiences and memories. Whether they make us less present in the moment or cause us so much stress that we avoid social gatherings and food altogether. Conquering food rules not only gives us freedom around food but freedom to do the things we love and make memories with friends and family.
  • Improved Health: Constantly stressing about food can have negative effects on the body. When we are frequently stressed the hormone cortisol becomes elevated. Elevated cortisol can lead to many problems such as: increased blood sugars, fatigue, GI problems, weight gain, and increased blood pressure. Overcoming food rules takes away additional stress around food that should have never been there in the first place.


Ultimately food rules do more harm than good. If you are ready to honor your body’s unique needs, it is crucial to break restrictive food rules and rituals that do not serve us. 


A reminder that if you are having trouble figuring out your food rules, we have a great resource about examining your food rules. Send us an email: if you are interested in trying this free resource. After filling in this tool it may be beneficial to meet with one of the dietitians here at Food Ease Co to learn about how you can start to break some of your food rules.

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