What To Do When You Feel Like You’re Out Of Control With Food


People love control. Control in their life and even outside of what they can control. This is natural, however, when food becomes the very thing that is used to ‘control’ many aspects in a person’s life, then this can become a big problem.

Working on non-dieting helped my client to see that she was a “control freak”.

This busy mum had an unstable childhood, was relieved when non-dieting helped her to discover that food was how she was trying to exert this sense of control in her life.

She like many people I see, use food as a way to feel this ‘false’ sense of control. People that use food in this way usually have had past experiences, often very unhappy experiences, where their sense of safety, self-esteem and love were compromised. No wonder food becomes the thing to turn to try and find the happiness that was missing.

As my clients work on non-dieting, they can see how often food is a distraction from underlying issues or a metaphor for control.

Next time you feel out of control with food, try 1 of these 4 things:

1. Try and sit with the feeling of ‘feeling out of control with food’.

Think about what is really going on with you, even if it’s for a second. Over time you will develop resilience to feeling out of control/discomfort.

For example, did you have a rough day, one where you felt a lot of emotions and did not deal with, but rather pushed aside?

If this is the case, you are likely using food as a distraction. In these moments, remember that food gives you a sense of pleasure/distraction for about 3 minutes before it wears off. Food is not very effective at soothing us. Dealing with feeling is how to feel better in the long term.

2. Change the scenery.

Distract yourself by calling a support person (friend or family member who is clear on your intentions to non-diet), go for a walk or play with your kids when you feel out of control with food.

3. If after dealing with your feelings, you still feel like food, have food.

Allow yourself to have whatever you are feeling out of control with AND try to be mindful in the moment you are eating the food to help with experiencing as much joy and pleasure.

The more you practise, this mindfulness will help you to realise when you are comfortably full and/or have had enough. You’ll know this point when you find the enjoyment of the food has decreased and you start to feel the sensation of lots of food in your stomach.

You will more likely honour your hunger when you give yourself permission to have the food again when you feel like it. If you don’t allow yourself permission, you will have a very hard time of eating just enough and consequently over-eat.

If you need to eat mindlessly as a way of coping, then do whatever you need to do. Practise this by taking the judgement away and observe the experience. Over time you will learn more about yourself, which will help you to change your behaviour around control/lack of control.

4. Contact me for an appointment and I’ll help you to explore your ‘control’ issues with food.

If you are not sure exactly how I can help you, this is how:

a. You will be able to reconnect with your internal body cues i.e. appetite which nourishes you and continues to support your child(ren) in eating well.

You will know how to eat and therefore what to eat.

b. You will stop obsessing over food which improves your relationship with food and allows you to be the role model you dreamed for your child(ren).

You will find a sense of calm with food. Food freedom.

c. You will have the confidence and mindset to eat well.

You will no longer second-guessing yourself. You will know you are providing good nutrition for you and your child(ren).

d. You will find the joy in eating and make peace with your body.

You will improve your relationship with food and your body.

e. You will become a confident and positive role model for your children.

You will continue to nurture your child(ren)’s relationship with food and body, which positively impacts all aspects of life.

The benefits of the above is improved health.


What has worked for you previously, that you do today when this feeling of lack of control surfaces? Please share in the comments as a way of helping other people in similar situations.

Do you need more support? There is a community of like-minded women waiting to support you on your non-dieting journey. Join the Nutrition Empowered Mums Facebook Group.

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