I’ve blogged often about the wild child in you that’s been getting its way around food—the part that’s entitled, defiant, demanding, uncaring about consequence, and who lives only in the moment. But there’s another part of the wild child that knows she’s out of her league around food and desperately, more than anything in the world, wants the loving, nurturing, compassionate, caring part of you to reign her in and be in charge.

Young children have no idea what’s good for them. They act impulsively and lack the life experience and awareness to look beyond now to consequence in what adults call the future. They barely have a past, never mind figuring out what lies ahead. Although they don’t know exactly what they don’t know, they yearn for safety from adults who seem to have wisdom. In short, they sense that you might know what’s best for them no matter how they cry, kick, pout, scream, and stamp their little feet.

Like young children, the wild child in you is motivated by wanting, say, the rest of the chocolate chip cookies in the tub because they taste so good. The adult you knows how rotten you’re going to feel emotionally and physically if you eat them all. The wild child may not want to stop eating, but isn’t going to be happy with the adult you when you develop a stomach ache or your clothes feel tight. The wild child becomes frightened when you regularly give it its way. Although it may act as if it wants to be in charge, underneath it’s terrified because it senses that it can’t take care of itself. More terrifying is knowing that the adult you is nowhere to be found and no one is in charge.

It’s sad when you don’t take control and talk down the wild child and show compassion for its desires without giving in. It wants you to be loving and nurturing even though it acts as if that’s the last thing on earth it wishes for. For those of you who had parents who let things run amuck and acted without thinking, remember how scared you were because no one was in control. The same thing happens to the wild child who has no way of telling you that this is so. Rather, the adult you must intuit it.

Toward that end, write a letter to the adult you from the wild child who’s been driving your irrational eating. Get to know her fears and you’ll understand how much she desperately wants you to intervene and take care of her. If you were to lovingly be firm with and look out for her, she would write reams about her gratitude and how safe she feels with you. Let the wild child share her yearning for your beneficent authority, and learn to take care of her with a compassionate but firm hand.