What’s the Best Thing About Being a Control Freak? – Video with Marc David

So many of us eaters are expertly committed to this strange phenomenon called “control.” I’m not always sure exactly what control is supposed to mean, but I do know that a bunch of us seem to want lots of it, and when we don’t have it, we become, well – more controlling. Those of us who prefer to have strict control over our appetite, our weight, our calorie intake, our fat grams, usually discover that the wild side of us will most often have it’s way. Are you the type of person who is controlling when comes to food – yet you find yourself binge eating, or overeating, or constantly obsessing about food? The best thing about being a control freak is the discovery that you can’t really do it. Note the word “freak”. It means aberration, distortion, deformity. Ouch. When it comes to food, artificially tight control is anything but sexy. And it’s anything but effective.

Many people have the “toxic dietary belief” called – “I must be in control.”

By the way, a toxic dietary belief is a thought or concept that lives in the mind which is as toxic and poisonous to the body as any toxin in our food could ever be. I’m not kidding about this. Our toxic beliefs live inside us, and instruct us to act in ways that are anti-science, anti-good nutrition, and wage a silent war against mental health.

So, when people walk around with the false and toxic belief called “I must control my appetite, I must control my food intake, I must control my need for pleasure, I must tightly control the amount of fat in my diet” – we inevitably freefall into constant anxiety, ceaseless hunger, ongoing self attack, and a likely diminishment in nutritional status. On the other side of tight control is generally a nice helping of self abuse. We cannot mount an attack against the natural inborn need to eat, to nourish, to experience pleasure, and to require nutrition. Artificially controlling appetite is like trying to limit breathing. It’s a silly pastime that we’ve imbued with gobs of seriousness.

Chances are, if you are into tight control around food, you’re probably tightly controlling in other parts of life as well. Is it working for you? Is it getting you where you truly want to go? Letting go of the need to control things doesn’t mean letting go of responsibility. It means embracing life. It means relaxing into the natural flow of your biology, and your destiny, and trusting that a greater wisdom is taking care of details of operating the universe, and your life.

Check out the video below.

I spend several minutes on this same topic. I think you’ll benefit from some well chosen words about control and toxic dietary beliefs. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences around this topic. What have been some of your persistent “toxic dietary beliefs”?

My warmest regards,
Marc David
Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014

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  •  Are you controlling when it comes to food?
  • What are your toxic dietary beliefs?


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  • once again, you’ve hit the nail exactly on the head…thank you for your knowledge and for making it so accessible to me. I pray somewhere down the road I am blessed to take your course.


    • Hi Nancy,
      Thank you for your kind words…
      We’d love to have you!

      Marc David

  • I believe we each need to learn why we feel the need to be so controlling so we can let go of the need to control and learn to trust ourselves.

    • Hi Melissa,
      Trust is such an important aspect to this whole process.
      It’s a key aspect to our teachings here at IPE.
      Thanks for joining the conversation!

      Marc David

  • I can personally attest that control around food leads to anxiety and obsession, and ultimately leads you AWAY from your goals. The concept of intuitive eating makes so much sense that it is almost embarrassing that I have spent so much time doing the very opposite! Thank you for sharing this wisdom- I can only pass it along and hope that at some point the restrictive, unrealistic, obsessive, dangerous diet world will catch on!

    • Sara –
      Thanks so much for adding your insight and experiences here.
      Happy to be sharing wisdom with you, we’re all in it together.

      Marc David

  • Jess Turton

    The need for control can also be toxic for relationships. Relationships with family, with friends, with partners, and most definitely with food. Relinquishing control feels almost impossible as the very process is something one cannot control. Being mindful, and using mindfulness techniques can help. My control comes in the form of excessive exercising so that I can feel that I deserve to eat, and also strict control over what I eat. I spend my time in a vicious cycle of overeating, guilt, obsessive thoughts about how to perfect my diet, and berating myself for not being better. I understand now how incredibly toxic this is, but need more understanding about how to change it. My main want in life is for my daughter to grow up with a healthy relationship with food and not learn from me. Thanks Marc for your brilliant, thought provoking blogs, I cannot financially take the certification programme at this time, but I very much look forward to doing it in the future, and being able to ‘pay it forward’ 🙂

  • Amanda Hildebrant

    What beautiful words! What is the best way to begin working on this strategy? I find myself paralyzed by so many rules…

    • Hi Amanda,
      Great question! I’d like to toss it right back in your direction. If you dig a little deeper, and if you could be your own amazing personal coach and cheerleader, what advice would you give to yourself? What sage words would you offer yourself? And, if you need a little help, a great book is The Gift of Our Compulsions by Mary O’Malley…


About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.