top of page

How to Make Peace with Food

How to Make Peace with Food
How to Make Peace with Food

If, like me, you were a child in the eighties and nineties, you probably have vivid memories of DARE, the anti-drug campaign, and its mantra of "Just Say No." Maybe you even rocked an oversized black t-shirt with "JUST SAY NO" in bold red letters, a look that was cool alongside patterned stirrup pants and glittery jelly sandals. I wonder why that style hasn't made a comeback with the rest of the '80s trends?

What sticks out most from DARE are the lengthy talks about drug dangers and, when we were older, the graphic images of tarry lungs, scarred livers, and people aged beyond their years due to addiction. There's one haunting picture of a girl from a car accident that still pops up in my nightmares, even 20 years after that high school health class. We were taught that drug users were inherently bad people with bad intentions, and we were told to steer clear of them at all costs.

It was a well-intentioned program, but nearly 30 years later, we know it was largely ineffective. Studies found that children in DARE were no less likely to use drugs and, in fact, often suffered from lower self-esteem. A few years ago, I had a conversation with a public health expert on anti-drug policy during a flight. She shared that when teens did experiment with drugs or alcohol, the shame from programs like DARE often led to continued use and riskier behaviors.

What does DARE have to do with making peace with food?

Reflecting on DARE recently while talking to my child's teacher, I couldn't help but see parallels with our approach to food. Let me clarify—I'm not equating food with drugs (that whole sugar addiction thing is bunk), and I don't claim expertise on effective anti-drug programs. But it reminded me of how we're taught to treat food in an abstinence-like manner. "Just say no" to all the "bad" foods, and if you can't "control" yourself, it's because you lack willpower. We're advised to hide cookies or ban them from the house altogether. Diet culture promotes all sorts of tactics to fend off cravings, from snacking on carrot sticks to taking a walk around the block.

As many of us have discovered, this abstinence model doesn't work. It only makes forbidden foods more enticing—like being told not to touch a hot plate. When we inevitably indulge in these off-limits foods, shame often follows. This shame fuels the restrict-binge cycle and fosters a tumultuous relationship with food.

How to Make Peace with Food

So, how do you break free from this cycle and make peace with food? Just say yes (to food! The DARE analogy ends here). Grant yourself full permission to enjoy the foods you love. Allow yourself to eat without the rules and restrictions that elevate certain foods above others. You cannot make peace with food if you're constantly denying yourself the chance to eat like a normal human being.

In intuitive eating, there are two principles that address this: making peace with food and challenging the "food police." The first principle encourages you to give yourself physical permission to enjoy previously forbidden foods. The second principle involves challenging and unlearning the harmful diet advice that attaches morality to eating choices.

If you're struggling with a chaotic relationship with food and wondering how to make peace, remember—the answer isn't found in restriction. As daunting as it may feel to say "yes" to foods that have triggered fear or shame in the past, it's the first step toward developing healthy eating skills that honor both your physical and mental well-being.



I Can Help in Developing A Plan For Self-Care

Do you want help developing a self-care plan that works for your own busy schedule? Do you want accountability in implementing a self-care plan? If you or someone you love is struggling to maintain optimal mental and emotional health, consider reaching out to Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. We are a Metro Atlanta, Conyers Georgia area. We are a coaching and counseling practice with empathetic, skilled counselors and recovery coaches who can help you set goals, develop a self-care routine, and move forward to build a more fulfilling life. Our team would be happy to work with you either just for a couple of sessions to develop and implement a Self-care plan or longer term to work toward overall better mental health within our membership site or other programs.

Dr. Nikki LeToya White
Dr. Nikki LeToya White

About The Author:

Dr. Nikki LeToya White MSEd-TL, Ph.D. RHN is the founder, director, and full-time board-certified trauma-informed nutritionist, folk herbalist, and wellness consultant at Spiced Life Conversation Art Wellness Studio and Botanica. She created Spiced Life Conversation, LLC Art Wellness Studio, and Botanica to provide the Metro Atlanta area with counseling and coaching services where clients are carefully matched with the right program for healing abandonment and childhood emotional neglect trauma that cause codependency, emotional eating, financial stress, and imposter syndrome as it relates to the fear of success and being abandon. We help you begin your emotional healing journey with ease. Recently, we have expanded to include an online membership site so we now provide support to people living all over the world. All of our recovery coaches provide at least one evidence-based treatment to assist in your recovery. Dr. White is a big proponent of self-care and helping people live a fulfilling life! She has been in full remission with both codependency and emotional binge eating disorder since 2016. In living a life in recovery from sugar addiction. I love my low-sugar balanced lifestyle.

Best Regard

Dr. Nikki LeToya White


bottom of page