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It’s a Control Thing

I remember being in high school and having the health teachers and psychology teachers and gym teachers (and seemingly every other teacher) lecturing us about eating disorders.  They would discuss the different types, and then they would always be sure to say how it wasn’t about food or weight.  It was about control.

That’s crazy, I thought.  How is it a control thing?  Why would someone want to control their food intake so strictly?  It just didn’t make sense to me.

Now, a *few* years past high school, I’m stuck sitting with myself realizing that my relationship with food is all about control.

I want to lose weight.  I want to be healthier.  I want more energy and to feel more comfortable in my own skin and more able to chase my kids around their world.

I want all of this.  I want all of this desperately.

So why don’t I eat less/better/healthier?

Because the one thing that I want more is control.

To me, someone telling me what not to eat, even if that person is myself, feels like a total loss of control.  I feel pinned against a wall, silenced, dominated.  And so I refuse it.  I refuse to relinquish control.  And because of that, I relinquish any possibilities of achieving these goals.

To be honest, as I’m writing this out now, I’m really starting to understand what this all means for the first time.  It’s why focusing on my goals only caused me stress.  It’s why I would be actively hating myself while eating what I shouldn’t.  It’s why no matter how desperately I wanted to achieve my goals, I always failed myself.

It’s because it was and is a control thing.

And so as I sit here and write this and realize this, I don’t have a solution.  I have tried to white knuckle my way through this.  I have tried to squelch my need to feel control, all to no avail.  It never lasted.

And so the temporary work around I have right now is to just focus on extra things to eat.  I am trying to eat vegetables at every meal, and I am trying to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.  And that works because I’m a good girl.  I like achieving goals.  I like doing “the right thing.”  And this allows me to make positive changes, have those good feelings that come from achieving my goals, all while ignoring the elephant in the room that tells me that nothing will be permanent until I work on my control issues.

But it’s progress.  I’m working with a dietician, and these were her goals for me for these six weeks.  I’m succeeding.

But at one point that elephant will need to be addressed.

It’s a Control Thing

Amanda Knapp

Amanda Knapp is a mother, wife, writer, former writing teacher, and lover of the written word. She writes for Psych Central, Mothering, Catholic 365, and her own blog, .

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APA Reference
Knapp, A. (2018). It’s a Control Thing. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 18 May 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 May 2018
Published on All rights reserved.