What people mean when they say food issues are about “control”

photoI’m getting a little bored of talking about how “relinquishing control” is the answer to your food problem…I’d much rather talk about how it’s the answer to your life problem.

Because heres the thing,

People don’t try to control their weight in a vacuum — they try to control their weight…to control something else.

When I’m thin, I’ll dazzle men everywhere and finally get a boyfriend.

When I’m thin, everyone will think I’m perfect and want to be my friend.

When I’m thin, people will take me seriously at work, be jealous of me, and I’ll get promoted.

When I’m thin, I won’t be lonely, because I’ll have the guy, the friends, the family and the white picket fence.

Trying to control our weight is really just an attempt to control the uncontrollable — primarily, but not limited to, what other people think of us.

Unfortunately, however, you can’t control how people feel about you with your weight, because you can’t control how people feel about you at all. 

No matter what you weigh, there will be someone who doesn’t like you.
No matter what you weigh, you will not be right for every part (or partner).
No matter what you weigh, scary, uncomfortable things will continue to happen to you.

There is nothing you can do about uncertainty in life…except stop trying to control it.

Let go or be dragged.

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What is your “I-can’t-stop-once-I-pop” food?

Sweets drive you crazy?

Can’t have one bite of ice cream without eating the whole pint?

Maybe it’s chips? Peanut Butter? Kentucky Fried Chicken? Feel free to get weird.

And let me tell you a little something about your favorite “addictive” foods.

The only time you will ever feel “out of control” around a specific food, is when you’re trying to control it to begin with.

Somewhere, somehow, you are judging, shaming, or limiting yourself around that food. You are calling it “bad.” You are wishing you didn’t want it. You are worrying you will lose control, gain weight, get caught.

You are handing that food power over you, by fearing it.

If you don’t believe me, try naming one food that “drives you crazy,” that you allow yourself to eat with complete abandon. No shame, no guilt, no fear of losing control. Just letting that food be a part of your life, like it was when you were a kid. Like it’s No. Big. Deal.

I bet you can’t.

The only answer to fear around food, is allowance, more allowance, and deeper still allowance. If you are a veteran of this work, you may not even be conscious of all the ways in which you are still restricting yourself, but let your “lack of control” remind you. Lack of Control = Lack of Allowance = Binge Waiting To Happen.

Lean into your lack of control, and be surprised by the grace that lifts you up. 

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STEP ONE: Radical Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the first step to changing your relationship with food and your body permanently.

Forgive yourself for putting your body through all that you’ve put her through up until this point — whether that be bingeing, starving, or calling her fat until she could no longer imagine another way to feel.

Forgive yourself for “not getting it” until now (if now), and for continuing to be human and imperfect in your relationship with food.


Forgive yourself for polishing off whatever bag of food you polished off last night in a state of chaos, confusion, and self-loathing. You were doing the best that you could to take care of yourself in that moment, with the tools that you’ve been taught up until this point.

Forgive yourself and practice new tools, gentle tools, loving tools; knowing that they will take time to master. Like learning a new language, you will forget words, and re-learn them the hard way — by “messing up” and asking for help.

Embrace your “mistakes” as the teachers that they are. When we judge, we miss the lesson.

(Feel free to share that last part, it’s my favorite).

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Letting Go of “Day One” Mentality in Intuitive Eating

Day One 2Unlike diets, Intuitive eating (or “normal” eating for that matter), doesn’t have a “day one.”

While diets are usually easiest to make perfect on Day One, and become harder to replicate as your willpower slowly wears down;

Intuitive Eating, is the exact opposite—it’s most difficult, and messy, in the first few months (or years), while we’re fumbling around trying to understand our bodies’ signals, and dismantle years (or decades) of diet-mentality.

(BTW dismantling diet mentality is the hard part—if you’ve “given up restricting” but are still bingeing, chances are you’re struggling with diet-like-thinkingor “emotional restriction,” which you can read about here.)

Just like everyone struggles to speak French on the first day of class, pretty much everyone struggles with Intuitive Eating in the beginning as well;

because, unlike diets, which are about following some pre-determined plan, (plans that are inevitably incompatible with the mysteries and un-folding of real life), 

Intuitive Eating is about learning and practicing skills — physical, mental and emotional skills — which may take time and practice to develop, but can never be un-learned.  

When we mispronounce a word while trying to speak a new language, we don’t say to ourselves “ughgh I screwed up! I might as well speak English for the rest of the day, and try speaking French perfectly tomorrow!” (In fact, this is a recipe for delayed learning.)

Instead, we simply commit to our practice of habitual learning, understanding that the language of our bodies (and hearts) cannot be mastered on Day One.

This work is a long-term investment in your health and well-being (rather than the short-sighted junk bond that is restriction or dieting). Embrace the process of learning a new skill set and way of thinking; embrace the ups and downs of practice and all that entails.

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