Why you don’t need to be in control around food

Control is the last thing you need

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People think they need to be in CONTROL around food.

They are either worried about losing control or feeling bad because they’ve lost control. Sounds fun, huh?!

This is interesting. We think we need to be in control so and therefore, we ‘must eat healthy food’ because if we don’t eat healthy food, we lose the plot and can’t stop ourselves eating whatever we can lay our hands on. Sound familiar?

There is a lot to say about this.

Firstly, this premise is all wrong. 

You don’t need to be in control. 

Think about it. In control sounds like a fight doesn’t it? It sounds like a struggle. How about we work on being IN CHARGE instead? In charge means you get to make your own decisions. This is where the mindful piece comes in, it involves learning to look inwards rather than outwards, to be more mindful (aware) of your thought processes and your choices. 

If I want to eat a Portugese custard tart from my local coffee shop I no longer stand in the queue fighting with myself over whether to have it or not. I used to. I would have this to-ing and fro-ing in my head and I would try REALLY hard to KEEP CONTROL!!!! And would salivate over the cake I wasn’t ‘allowed’.

But I don’t anymore. I look inwards, I think about whether I am hungry or not. If I’m hungry and that is what I REALLY want, I give myself permission to have it and I make sure I enjoy it! If I’m not hungry but STILL want it, I have a think about why I want to eat it, then I think about whether I still want it or whether I want to buy it for later or do something else instead.

Secondly, the worry of  ‘losing control’ sounds to me like we don’t trust ourselves. 

The subtext here is fear. Fear of food, fear of putting on weight. Fear that once we start we won’t be able to stop. I understand this too but this is what diet thinking teaches us. Who has heard the statement ‘Free food means you can eat as much as you like of this, so you don’t get hungry?’ They tell you this one at slimming clubs don’t they?!

This teaches us to ignore our body’s hunger cues and overeat in the process. If we relearn to eat in response to hunger (most of the time- this is NOT about perfection) we can manage our own food intake. We know when we are hungry and when we’ve had enough. It’s not about needing to control, or regulate our appetite (as some would have you believe) it’s about learning to respond to our innate hunger cues and nourish our body appropriately. And if you are thinking ‘I never get hungry’, you’ve probably just forgotten what it feels like!

Thirdly, this is about what we let ourselves eat.

Part of losing control around food is a direct response to deprivation. When you diet and/or don’t allow yourself to eat the things you LOVE, you set off the deprivation cycle. Your body craves what it loves and the craving gets worse and worse until you give in and have it. THEN of course, you eat more than you need. This is because you are hard wired to like certain foods and the more you tell yourself you can’t have them the more you want them. The mindful approach to this is to allow yourself to have a variety of ALL foods. Over time, the cravings reduce and when you truly get your head around the fact that peanut M&Ms (or whatever floats your boat) are allowed the less you will want them!!


If this is new to you, suspend your disbelief! We’ve been conditioned to think the way we do and unlearning it takes time, but it’s SO worth it! xx 

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