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07 Oct Recognizing Food Noise

Let’s play a quick game, OK? I’ll ask you four simple questions, and then you tell me if I’m in your head. Here we go:

  1. Have you ever spent a good part of your mental energy worrying about the food you ate, the food you’re thinking of eating, the food you might eat at the next event you go to, or the food you should be eating?
  2. Have you ever felt like if you weren’t on a diet plan or counting calories then you’re destined to be overweight or will never reach the goals you have for yourself?
  3. Have you ever found yourself concerned about whether what you eat is “right or wrong”, “good or bad”, “low glycemic index or high glycemic index”, or some other measure that puts a judgment value on food?
  4. Have you ever felt like you were a success because you followed a diet plan or meal plan, or a failure because you “messed up” or “cheated” or “fell off the wagon”?

If you answered “yes — that’s me!”, then my friend, you have food noise!


Food noise is the term that’s used to describe the negative voice in your head that’s fixated on food. I didn’t make up the term, but I can promise you that many of my students and clients have had it and never heard of it before. I actually think Bethenny Frankel, a natural food chef and author, described food noise exceptionally well in her book Naturally Thin (2009), when she referred to it as an “inner food dialogue, commenting on and criticizing everything you eat, or think about eating, or don’t eat” (p. 24).

Food noise is what makes you feel like you’re a good person when you don’t “cheat” on your diet, or that you’ve “fallen off the wagon” if you have. It causes you to stress over a few pounds of water weight on the scale or to think that if you missed your workout today then you can’t have even a 1/2 cup serving of ice cream tonight. It also makes you think you’re doing great when you follow a meal plan to a “T” or don’t overeat your Weight Watchers points or go over your calorie “allotment” for the day. It’s mean, it’s all consuming for a lot of people (especially women), and it’s exhausting.

There are a lot of things you can do to combat food noise, and I’ll be sharing some strategies for this in my upcoming healthy living courses. However, some of my clients have told me that just making them aware of their food noise has been a “game changer” for them. I think this is because once you can recognize food noise for what it is — just critical self-commentary that seeks to derail your happiness and your healthy living style — you can often start to notice when it’s happening and talk yourself down from it.

What’s your food noise? Does it sneak up on you more when you’re around certain people? When you’re preparing for an event or a holiday? When you’re not taking care of yourself with self-care efforts unrelated to your eating?

Share it on my blog  or Facebook page and get it out! The more you talk your food noise out, the less power it has screaming at you in your head and taking up your mental energy.

Here’s to making healthy living simple!


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