Self-Love Diet Food & Eating Guidelines #4: Neutralize Foods and Choose Foods that You Enjoy

Heart Food

Today’s Self-Love Diet Food and Eating Guideline is neutralizing food and choosing foods that you enjoy. I’m taking today’s self-love post directly from my book, Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works.

Neutralize foods and choose foods that you enjoy

Offer your body colorful, aromatic, tasty, satisfying foods. Have you developed a relationship with food where you have categorized food as good or bad, healthy or non-healthy, scary or safe, heavenly or sinful? Neutralizing your food will allow your food to just be food.

  • Notice if you have food categories.
  • Notice if you have food rules.
  • Let go of your categories and rules.
  • Try new foods. Experiment with foods that have been in your negative categories.
  • Choose tasty satisfying foods by:
    • Asking your body what it wants.
    • Test-driving your food choice before deciding.

Here are some examples of how to take action on the above guidelines.

Notice if you have food categories: Write Good/Bad, (or Healthy/Unhealthy, Scary/Safe and Heavenly/Sinful) in your Self-Love Diet journal. Write the foods that you have put in those categories under their titles. Continue to add to the columns as you discover the categories you have created.

Notice if you have food rules: Write them out in your journal. Here are some examples to get you started.

  • I can’t eat after 8 pm.
  • I can’t eat anything after dinner.
  • I must drink water before each meal.
  • I can’t eat cooked vegetables and raw vegetables together.
  • It’s ok to eat dessert as long as I work out the following day.

Let go of your food categories and rules: This is a difficult task. It requires concerted, consistent awareness of your categories and rules, and then it requires you to confront them and to change your behavior. Be gentle with yourself and hold the intention to make progress on letting go of your rigid rules rather than expecting perfection from yourself. The previous act of writing out your categories and rules will help you be conscious when they pop up. Once you are aware of when you are thinking of your rules you have the opportunity to work with letting them go. This is a process. It takes time. Give yourself permission to have this be an ongoing challenge. Perhaps a better way of thinking of it is an opportunity to regularly offer yourself the freedom from food categories and rules.

Try foods that have been in your negative categories: This can be a very scary experience if you are beginning to eat foods that you have not allowed yourself to eat before. Be gentle with yourself, and be aware of your thoughts and emotions. In chapter 31, “Thoughts, Feelings, Actions Loop,” you will get help with a common thought pattern: “I shouldn’t have eaten this cookie (or any food on your bad list). I messed up, so I might as well eat the whole bag.” Or, “I shouldn’t have eaten this cookie (or any food on your bad list). I messed up, so I better eat less to make up for it.”

Many of my clients have shared that they feel so bad, guilty, discouraged, hopeless or scared when they begin to eat the foods on their bad list. Chapter 29, “Treasure Chest of Emotions,” will give you tools to handle the emotions that will come up for you as you practice this guideline. Once you are aware that your food and eating rules are present you have the opportunity to do something different.

Do your best to take foods out of their negative category prison, and give them a chance to offer you the nutrition, taste and enjoyment that they can offer. Remember, this is a process. You are looking for progress, not perfection.

Choose satisfying foods: This is a two-step process. First, your mind will offer suggestions, and then your body will test-drive your choice before eating it.

Ask yourself what you want to eat

Does your mind think of something warm and substantial, like beef stew or a cheeseburger? Or does your mind think of something cool and refreshing, like yogurt and fresh fruit? Perhaps your mind thinks of something sweet and creamy, like chocolate pudding? Or something salty and crunchy, like nuts or chips? Give yourself permission to let your imagination offer you complete meals. Allow whatever comes to mind in whatever portion comes to mind. Remember, this is an imaginary meal.

Take this food on a test-drive

Visualize this food on a plate in front of you. What does it look like? Take your time to smell it. See if you can sense its temperature. Now imagine yourself bringing the food to your mouth. If it is finger food, pay attention to how it feels in your hand. If you are using a spoon or fork, pay attention to the anticipation and sensation of the food in your mouth. Notice the texture of this food, the taste of it and the temperature, and take your time chewing it. Bring your attention to the feeling of swallowing this food. Continue imagining eating this food in this deliberate, mindful manner until you decide to stop. Write down the food and the quantity that your mind chose in your Self-Love Diet journal.

Now imagine yourself 20 minutes into the future after your body has digested this food. What energy has this food provided your body? Are you energetic and renewed, or do you feel tired and lethargic? Is the food comfortable in your stomach? Discern if your body is nurtured by the portion your mind chose. Write down your body’s experience of the food that your mind offered it below in your journal.

If your mind and body are in sync, you will feel satisfied, not stuffed, and you will feel physically nurtured by the foods you’ve eaten. If on the other hand, you discovered that you felt uncomfortable after taking these food choices on your test-drive, you can learn from the experience and make different choices of foods or quantities.

If you notice just imagining food is overwhelming for you, it may be an indicator that you need more support in this process from a registered dietitian or a therapist who specializes in working with people with eating disorders and disordered eating.

You can read the SLD Food and Eating Guidelines #1-#3 and #5 below:

  1. Self-Love Diet Food & Eating Guidelines: #1: Eat When You Are Physically Hungry
  2. Self-Love Diet Food & Eating Guidelines #2: Stop Eating When You Are Satisfied
  3. Self-Love Diet Food & Eating Guidelines #3: Bring Gratitude to Your Meals
  4. Self-Love Diet Food and Eating Guidelines #5: Treat Yourself like an Important Guest

I look forward to reading how you will use this SLD Food and Eating Guideline in your Self-Love Diet practice. Blessings on your journey,

Michelle Minero


Michelle Minero, the Co-Founder of this blog and the overarching Love Warrior Community published her book, Self-Love Diet: The Only Diet That Works. You can buy her book online or at stores in Petaluma, Sonoma and Healdsburg, California. You can also purchase a copy Michelle’s book through Amazon. For upcoming events and book signings, visit Michelle’s Events page.

Michelle Minero is a licensed marriage family therapist who specializes in eating disorder recovery. Her dream is to see a world filled with people who love themselves and their bodies.

Michelle created an intensive outpatient eating disorder program in 2000, brought ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc.) to Petaluma shortly after and founded EDRS (Eating Disorder Recovery Support, Inc.), a Marin and Sonoma County based 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2005. In 2011, Michelle co-founded the Love Warrior Community with her daughter, Emelina, an online community that helps people cultivate self-love, self-acceptance and body acceptance through creative expression. Connect with Michelle on Facebook and Twitter.

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