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Deprivation VS self control.

Self control is an important skill to master as an adult but to exercise discipline in your day to day, doesn't mean you need to live a boring-snoring life. We often look at disciplined people as too measured or not able to enjoy life but there's a big difference between someone who deprives themselves and someone who is able to practice self control.

I'm anti-deprivation for many reasons but when it comes to nutrition in particular, depriving yourself can lead to binging, body image disorders and social isolation. Living a life where you can never enjoy a plate of hot chips or a block of Cadbury is not only physically draining but also mentally draining.

Self control is a totally different game.

Self control is the ability to control your urges in the moment or to remove yourself from a situation that will make it more difficult to do so and this is often in return for a positive outcome later down the track. Self control doesn't mean you never enjoy things in life but it's about delaying gratification which is much more satisfying in the long run. We can practice this in the smallest of ways such as holding off on your morning coffee until after school drop off as opposed to succumbing to your caffeine addiction with a $5 latte that goes cold in the car because the kids took 27 hours to put their shoes on.

Healthy boundaries give you less decisions to worry about each day. For example, I don't drink alcohol from Monday to Thursday as a general rule which means I don't have to decide whether to crack a bottle of red based on how I feel after a hectic Monday. I also eat the same thing for lunch every day during the week because it's cheaper and I don't have to stress about what to eat when I'm feeling 'hangry.' These daily habits are my way of practicing self control but I'm not rigid about it so when I'm invited to a social event during the week, I can say yes and enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty about it.

When we are kids, our parents are in charge of controlling our impulses as we don't have the rational mind to resist temptations. Most children will eat a Marsbar if it's put in front of them or buy the latest PS4 game if they have the money to do so which is why they need someone to say 'no' or 'not now'. As grown ups, we are responsible for our own decisions but emotions can make it hard to exercise willpower in certain situations.

If you've ever talked yourself out of eating a whole packet of biscuits in one sitting then you know the sense of pride you feel by saying 'no' to yourself sometimes. Having the ability to give yourself some tough love in these situations will result in better decision making in general as well as the satisfaction of a more positive outcome (not eating the biscuits and feeling well VS eating the biscuits and feeling sick and a little bit guilty)

Self control won't always win and that's ok. We've all eaten a whole packet of Tim Tams or cruised through McDonalds drive-through on the way home from work even though we know there's a salad made up in the fridge at home. Succumbing to our urges doesn't mean we've failed and sometimes our emotions will get the best of us, which is totally normal but if you can make small changes to your daily habits by saying 'not now' to yourself every now and then, you'll find that self control will filter into bigger, more important things in your life and bring you satisfaction and happiness; not only long term but right now.

Alyssa x

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