self-control: calculating the cost of this important resource

self-control: calculating the cost of this important resource

Hello friends and happy Friday! Sometimes I have a thought surrounding food and habits and I mull it over long enough it feels worth it to share. Some won’t agree and that’s totally ok, but I figured this train of thought might be helpful for some of you.

Much like decision fatigue, I believe that self-control/will power can become exhausted. Now, before I continue, I am not trying to belittle the power of God in this. I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus answers prayers and desires to be our helper. He is our Creator. He is all-powerful and able to meet our needs when we cry out to Him. But I also believe that He made us human. And at the end of the day, we all need sleep. And food. And air. We are not God and were created with limitations. I believe self-control falls into these limitations. I think self-control is something God has given us but something we need to steward wisely. 

Personally, I need self control in a lot of areas, many pertaining to my children. Self-control not to yell. Self-control to be patient. Self-control to help set a godly example for them. Because I know this is a valuable resource, I prefer not to “waste it” on foods I have found I need a lot of self-control around. My top two: peanut m&ms and Nutella. Costco sells both of these items in very large, great value bulk packaging. But you know what? It’s simply not worth the “self-control cost” to me.


I believe wholeheartedly in enjoying my food and not restricting these types of items, so when I do enjoy them, I choose to purchase them in a size that requires little self control. A size I can enjoy in 1-2 sittings and then not have around for a while. So, after a few days went by of really wanting some Nutella, I finally found myself at the store and able to buy some. There were 5 different sized jars. I chose the next to smallest, knowing I could freely enjoy it in one sitting or five and feel zero guilt when I was done. For the record, I ate it all in one sitting ? Now for some of you, this was completely irresponsible and gluttonous. I should have practiced temperance and left some in the jar. But you see, I know myself and how much Nutella I can consume. This jar is chump change! Had I bought the giant jar, I would have likely still consumed this much Nutella, and then had 2/3 of a giant jar left to taunt me from my cabinet. This jar was the perfect amount. Zero guilt, maximum enjoyment.


There are lots of sweets we keep around the house that I enjoy, but Nutella and peanut m&ms…well, those are next level. They are my “zero brakes” foods. And frankly, I prefer to use my self control stores for a lot of other more important things than chocolate covered peanuts.


Maybe you can relate? If so, here’s my encouragement: I don’t think you necessarily need to totally cut these items from your life. I think that can create unhealthy relationships with food, live under food rules/stigmas, and ultimately make you sad. Maybe you just need to be smarter about how you purchase it. Ask yourself “is this large box/bag worth the amount of self-control I am going to have to expend to not eat it all in one sitting?” If not, go for a smaller package size.


To reiterate the point, when you are wanting your favorite candy/cake/chip/no brakes food, you can:

a) completely abstain from it

b) buy the large size (often this is what we go for since it “seems” like the best value)

c) buy the item in a size you know you can enjoy without the guilt

In my humble opinion, I think C is the best option here. It honors your body’s desire for the food and doesn’t allow for putting foods into “good/evil” categories. At the same time, I think it heeds your body’s limited self-control stores. Because while the bulk/value package may seem like it’s saving your wallet, it is costing you in the self-control department. 


I hope this has been a helpful thought. For me, it’s really less about the food and more about my precious self-control. It’s a resource I know the Lord can give abundantly, but I simply prefer to preserve it as best I can for the more important things.