How to Avoid the ‘Food Police’

25 August 2022

Everyone has their own opinions on diets, exercise routines, weight loss surgery and healthy habits in general.

For example, we’ve all had that friend who refuses to take something as simple as an anti-inflammatory because they don’t like putting ‘chemicals’ into their body, but then they also smoke cigarettes. The same type of contradictory, hypocritical opinions often arise in conversations around food. You may find the people around you start ‘policing’ what you eat and feeling like they need to put in their two cents.

What are the Food Police?

After bariatric surgery, your diet must change according to your doctor’s instructions. People in your life may notice this change and question it – these people are the Food Police.

A doctor in mental health and wellness counselling, Marrissa Ferrito, wrote her PhD about ‘Food Policing’ and its effects. It classifies the Food Police in our life into four categories:

  • The “Expert”: people who read a headline about a diet and claim they read the whole article and are now experts. They claim they know better and try to undermine the information you’ve received from your doctors.
  • The Critic: Often passive-aggressive, they question every food decision you make and find something wrong with the simplest things.
  • The Bad Influence: Try to entice you to veer away from the advice given by your doctor and try to convince you to join them in their unhealthy choices.
  • The Food Pushers: People that insist on you eating what they put in front of you and maybe make you feel guilty or rude for not doing so. This often comes in the form of a grandma.

How do I avoid the Food Police and deal with unsolicited advice after weight loss surgery?

  • Remember, you have every right to say “no” and not give a reason. As Dr Ferrito suggests: “Sometimes we forget, especially women, that no is a full sentence.”
  • If someone pushes their opinion or is relentless in their questions, simply say, “You’re entitled to your opinion and to do your own research; I’m just following my doctor’s instructions.”
  • If someone is pushing food on you and doesn’t want to be rude, try redirecting. For example, “Not right now, but I’d love a glass of water/ cup of tea instead.”

You don’t have to discuss your diet with anyone but your doctors unless you choose to. Be confident in your healthcare team’s advice, and the Food Police will soon leave the issue alone.

Have any questions? Please contact our team for more information.

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