Ep 75: Trust vs. Control: The Secret to Eating with Confidence

This podcast episode is inspired by Ellyn Satter, who is known for her work on eating competence. The more I talk with people about their food experiences and work with people on becoming confident eaters, the more I realize that almost all of us have experienced similar brainwashing from the cultural messages we get about food. And that’s what I want to talk about today.

This episode is sponsored by Eat Confident Co and the Raising Confident Eaters workshop. This workshop will not only show you how to divide feeding responsibilities between you and your child and how to talk to them about their bodies -- but also how you can inspire confidence in them through the way you trust and respect your own body. ”

It’s not about fighting your kids or controlling their food choices. Feeding your kids should never make you feel discouraged or overwhelmed. Raising Confident Eaters workshop is the place for you to feel hopeful + empowered about feeding yourself and your kids, no matter where you are on your food and parenting journey. In this full-day, in-person workshop, you’ll learn how to teach your kids to feed themselves well + respect their bodies.

These shifts in how you feed your kids will ignite their natural inclinations for confident eating. You’ll find that your kids will be incredibly responsive to the recommendations we give you. Instead of power struggles, we will help you work WITH your kids to create peaceful meal times.

To get your ticket to this live, in-person workshop that will be held in Utah on July 27th, go to eatconfident.co/workshop.

Let’s talk about trust vs. control.

Most of what we hear about food and nutrition today involves weight management. Nutrition and health has become totally overrun with messages about thinness being equal to health. We’ve come to believe that being thin is the path to health and happiness, and so many of us are pursuing weight loss (in the name of health) at increasingly high costs. Costs like our mental and emotional well-being.

What the diet industry would have you believe is that you need more self-control. Countless books and experts talk about how to have more self-control, how to maintain willpower in the face of countless foods.

Control is:

  • Eating by the numbers (counting calories, counting macros, eating certain foods, eating certain amounts, avoiding certain foods)

  • Following outside instructions for what + how much to eat

  • Breeds inconsistency

  • Takes away our autonomy

  • Doesn’t work - creates rebellion

When we become obsessed with control and we don’t feel like we can trust ourselves to do this most basic human behavior of feeding ourselves, things go wrong really quickly. We become neurotic. We question everything - our hunger, our portions, our bodies, our ability to take care of ourselves. We feel all sorts of miserable obligation around food. We don’t eat enough, or we eat way more than our bodies want.

We can’t enjoy our food, because every bite is loaded with guilt and uncertainty. “Is this the right thing? Is this healthy? Is this making me fat? Is this killing me?” We swing from extreme to extreme, deprivation to bingeing, being good to being bad, never sure where we’re supposed to be.

This is not because anything is wrong with our bodies. It’s not even because our food system is broken or that processed food is ruining everything. Not at all.

This is all simply a result of all of us losing trust in ourselves. Losing touch with ourselves, losing that connection with the bodies we live in.

Trust is the opposite of control. When we trust, we don’t need control. Trust is at the core of confident, competent eating.

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Trust is:

  • Eating according to your body’s wisdom (preferences, amounts, hunger, fullness, and appetite included)

  • Supports consistency with eating - allows you to have a flexible structure with food and a stable, predictable, daily routine with food

  • Empowers you to make your own food decisions

  • Is the only solution to food confidence

This is a really helpful filter for protecting yourself from negative messages about food. Next time you hear a conversation about a certain diet or program or way of eating, or you see something on the internet about nutrition or health, use this filter.

Does this promote trust, or control?

If it encourages you to trust yourself, it’s good advice. If it encourages you to ignore yourself (your body’s signals and appetite) and overrule what you feel, it’s bad advice.

It’s a very simple benchmark, and extremely effective and important.

Here’s another thing to think about: this is also the key to helping your kids develop a positive relationship with food and their bodies.

Just like you need your autonomy and freedom to decide what you’ll eat, kids need that same thing.

We are all born with appropriate intuitive signals and wisdom that can support us in lifelong health and a positive relationship with food.

The problem is, that the pressure to exert control, and to micromanage things, comes into play because of the control-obsessed culture we live in. This is true for adults AND kids.

So if you have kids, remember that these same principles apply. They need to have the chance to develop confidence around food. As the parents, we need to be able to teach them how to do that and allow them the freedom to practice.

Raising our kids to be confident eaters is important, and most of us aren’t getting there because we’re either over-complicating it or giving up on it and just letting them eat the same old foods day after day because we’re tired of the fight.

I hope this was helpful...thanks for listening!

Remember to grab your ticket for the Raising Confident Eaters workshop at eatconfident.co/workshop!

This is the last week to get the early bird discount for the Eat Confident Co. Workshop: Raising Confident Eaters. Visit https://eatconfident.co/workshop to get your ticket today!

Stephanie Webb