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In Charge vs. In Control

By Michelle May, M.D.
Mindful Eating vs Restrictive Eating

Click image to open the full graphic!

People who are new to Am I Hungry? mindful eating programs  are sometimes puzzled when they see the title of the first chapter of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: In Charge, Not In Control. What is the difference between being “in charge” and being “in control”?

I admit that it may be subtle at first, but the difference becomes more meaningful as you practice mindful eating. While “in charge” and “in control” are sometimes used as synonyms, here are other words that are used in their definitions:

Control: To exercise restraint; dominate; command; hold in check; curb; regulation; domination…well, you get the picture.

In Charge: a position of leadership or supervision; having responsibility for.

To me, in control conjures up an image of power (as in willpower) and resistance. The problem is that willpower is a limited resource that gets used up throughout the day, not just in relationship to food, but by going to work, studying, interacting with other flawed humans, etc. When your willpower runs out, you may find yourself out of control! (I probably don’t need to define that for you since we’ve all been there!)

In charge implies conscious decision-making. There is no predetermined way to respond, so in the present moment, you pause to assess the situation and decide what the most appropriate action is. Rather than following a list of rules, whenever you feel like eating, notice your physical sensations, thoughts, and feelings, then choose what you’ll do next. It is a much more flexible approach that makes it possible to eat what you love while keeping your well-being in mind.

That pretty much sums up the difference between mindful eating and restrictive eating! For examples of other differences, download this cool graphic: Mindful Eating vs. Restrictive Eating!

FREE download! Chapter 1 of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: In Charge, Not In Control

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About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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