The Best Way To Control Your Eating Is…

control your eatingBest way to control your eating is not trying to control your eating at all. Period.

Weird, isn’t it? I’m quite aware you don’t probably agree with me, but bear with me for a moment so I tell me what led me to draw that conclusion. 🙂


I was reading Kristin Neff’s Self-Acceptance: Stop Beating Yourself Up And Leave Insecurity Behind when it really struck me: we’ve really gotten everything mixed up.

What I mean is that the key to controlling your eating and weight is not self-discipline and dieting.

When we decide to lose weight and stumble, we tend to endlessly berate ourselves for our perceived lack of self-control. If we just had enough self-control, we wouldn’t cave in front of that slice of cheese cake in the evening. Yes? No!

We seem to be blithely oblivious to the fact that there might be something else going on. Something that practically forces us to give in to cravings.


Let me tell you a little story.

My sister Hanna, 35, had always been slim till she started putting on weight a few years back. You know the story: she has two little kids, a demanding job and a husband who works night shifts.

Hanna has also always had an enviably relaxed attitude to eating: she’s much more focused on enjoyment than I am. I’m the exact opposite: always frothing about healthy foods and agonizing over stuff. “Enjoyment” is not really part of my core vocabulary. Should is!

Anyway, this spring (and in the spring before ) she got frustrated with her increasing weight and not being able to fit into her favorite summer shirt, so she decided to lose some weight.

Last year, she managed to lose all of 10 pounds, which she gained back over the winter.

This spring we actually started our own family challenge: I did my own stuff, and my sister and my mother did theirs.

I don’t know exactly what my sister did, but I think it involved a lot of restrictions: consuming too few calories, denying almost all goodies at one fell swoop etc. Hanna was able to follow her “program” about six weeks until she had admitted she can’t do it.

When we emailed about it, she told that her skin had started suffering (a sure-fire sign that her diet had too little fat) and her weight loss attempt had ended in a big binge.


This story probably sounds familiar to many of you.

What led Hanna to bingeing and abandoning her weight loss attempt was not lack of self-discipline but consuming too few calories, having an unbalanced diet and rigid) rules on what she can and cannot eat.

For some reason hardly any of us ever makes the connection between dieting, eating too little and  losing your control over eating. Instead, we beat ourselves up over our assumed shortcomings.

I sincerely hope that Hanna’s two weight loss attempts haven’t screwed her head yet. I mean I hope she hasn’t started feeling guilty over her eating and consuming certain foods.

I don’t think I need to elaborate more.


What does this have to be about Kristin Neff’s book and self-acceptance? Well, Kristin Neff discusses how we tend to believe we’re in control of everything that happens to us and what we do, when it’s actually a big fat illusion.

Our bodies are intricate organisms with hundreds of neural transmitters and hormones that are perfectly capable of taking care of our of eating, hunger and satiety. There’s really nothing for us to do.

Trying to control your eating by sheer force of will is pretty much pointless.

Best Wishes,



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  1. Hi Satu! Well, you are actually one to talk about this, since you have been doing so well with your food and lost inches. 🙂

    I have been binge-ing lately. And yes, the more I beat myself down, the more I binge. Almost all the binge-ing food content wasn’t even enjoyed! It really never works to be mean to myself to get myself to do better.

    But I really do appreciate you saying this. Friends tell friends these things. I probably should be thinking: What would I tell a friend in the very same situation? I would be really nice and say that her weight does not equal her as a person.

    🙂 Marion

  2. I looked up Kristen Neff’s book on Amazon. I would appreciate if you wrote another post on what you like about it.

    🙂 Marion

    • Satu says:

      Good idea, Marion! I just finished reading Neff’s book and even though it’s not about fitness/dieting, it’ could be relevant for anyone who wants to change their lifestyle for the better. Especially for perfectionists. 🙂

      If you binge in the evenigs the first thing to check is whether you eat a proper breakfast, lunch and snack before going home.

      I’d also be interested in hearing what you have to say about the mindful eating books you got some time ago.

      • Hi Satu! I have not finished reading and analyzing those books primarily because I think my issue really is about mindful living and less about mindful eating. Which is why I wanted to hear more about your book.

        And when I read my mindful eating books, it would just remind myself about my nutritional faults and I wanted to knock my head on the wall somewhere. There’s nothing wrong with the books, I’m just taking them too personally. So, I’m taking a little break from those until I have better perspective.

        As the joke goes something like this: How do Angels fly so well? They ‘lighten up.’

        🙂 Marion

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