The Dictator, The Rebel and The Victim

12 March 2021 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

When I began making peace with food, I discovered that I had these three eating personalities that really got in the way of ending the food struggle. When I started working as a coach, I noticed that these characters were not unique to my struggle with food but also to most of my clients. If you have eating challenges and a history of dieting or strict food rules then maybe you recognise them too?

The Dictator

The dictator has many restrictive food rules. She thrives on control and hates it when eating feels uncontrolled. The voice of the dictator is critical and bossy, loaded with judgement, and she tells you…

…you shouldn’t eat sugar

…carbs are bad

…don’t eat after 7 pm

…flour and sugar are evil

The dictator’s voice will often go on the attack, by saying things like…

…what’s wrong with you?

…why can’t you just eat “normally”? (read: perfectly)

…you’re so weak

…you’re lazy

…you know you don’t need this.

The dictator blames and shames, thinking that this will motivate you to behave in a certain way. The dictator thrives on all or nothing thinking –  once a rule is broken “everything has gone to ruin”. You have messed up by eating some chocolate so let’s just eat everything and be “perfect” tomorrow.

The Rebel

For many of my dieting years, my eating was driven by the rebel. Nobody was going to tell me what to eat (except when I was dieting and handed my power over to the diet regime). The rebel hates authority and rules. The rebel wants to break free. The energy around rebellious eating is intense, urgent and reactive. Defiance on purpose!  When the rebel eats, it’s very much about making a bold statement. It’s a loud protest against restriction. Essentially the rebel feels starved of freedom and choice and the only way to be heard is to make a scene…

…who cares?

…!@$% it, I’ll eat it!

…what the heck!

The Victim

The Victim feels defeated and feels she’s been given a hard deal. Life is hard and unfair. Working long hours with no break. The victim will often blame herself or life by saying things like…

…I deserve this treat

…I’m rewarding myself with chips

…I’ve had such a bad day, I can eat cake

…I’ve worked so hard, I’m allowed to eat this

…why bother, I’ll just eat whatever.

The energy around this type of eating is driven by self-pity and deprivation. There’s a need for soothing and gratification.

None of these eating personalities serve us. They take away our power. They arise out of fear and deprivation. If we were not dieting or following food rules they probably wouldn’t feature in our lives. Thinking that we need to justify our eating behaviours is a symptom of diet mentality. Think about it. Why do we need to have suffered to justify eating cake or chips? Or why do we need to be good to reward ourselves with food? If we want the cake, we can just eat it and enjoy it. No explanation needed.

So how do we work skilfully with these personalities?

Ask yourself “who is eating now?”

Recognise and identify the personality. Once you have recognised, detach. This is not you, don’t identify with the voice. Observe. Be the observer of these characters, as if they are fighting on a playground. You can always get off the playground, by aligning yourself with your inner observer. You are not the Dictator, the Rebel or the Victim. You can become the calm presence that observes them. Invite a different character to the table. You could invite your Inner Nurturer to eat. She’s on your side, she cares about your wellbeing  and she doesn’t judge or berate you, she supports you in a compassionate and caring way.

The Dictator, the Rebel and the Victim will often trigger you to binge or overeat. Your observer self is not so triggering and if you invite your Inner Nurturer, she can calm everything down. Don’t try to resist the personalities, they’ll just get louder. They are our default survival mode, be curious about them. Tapping into your observer and Inner Nurturer can change the entire dynamic to one of peace. For readers who don’t struggle with food, you may recognise these personalities in other areas of your life.

May you be free from struggles with food.
May you find peace with food and your body.
May you be healthy and may you be well.


Do you want heal your relationship with food? Book a free mini session. Find out more about what my clients say about our work together.

“From our first meeting - two faces on Zoom across the world from each other, there was a sense of familiarity and comfort that was a healing balm for a lifetime of food struggles and dieting. Without realizing how much damage I had done to myself by adhering, for decades, to restrictive food plans and rigid diet programs, Xen had a way of redirecting the harsh and negative self-talk and sending me forth each week with compassion, mindfulness and a new way of seeing myself in the here and now. Gone are the maybe somedays, and if-only, and when-I’m-smaller thinking. Now I am committed to the imperfect and rocky path to listening to my body, accepting my perfect imperfections, and rejecting diet mentality. Those negative voices will revisit me from time to time, I know, but Xen has offered valuable tools for meeting each day as a fresh start - another choice, another chance. Her devotion to this work and her belief in her clients is a remarkable gift; I am so fortunate to have found her. It is never too late to let go of the drama and embrace joy, ease and self-acceptance.”

Karen L, Denver, USA

“I felt hopeless and helpless in my daily struggle with mindless eating for many years. Then I found Xen which is exactly what I needed! My decision to work with her helped me to finally repair my relationship with food. It's changing my life for the better, one day at a time. Now I have control over the food, instead of it having control over me, which is the way it should be. I highly recommend Xen to anyone who has a desire to overcome similar food struggles. Xen, thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

Karen J, Colorado, USA

“I reached out to Xenia because 2021 started on a tumultuous note for me. Between deaths, businesses suffering, hospitalizations, and job losses in our personal circle, I felt depleted and found myself being available for everyone but myself. Then I was hit with an unexpected health diagnosis, which was the last straw as it meant giving up “healthy foods” and workouts that I leaned on for my well-being and stability. Despite working in wellness (Yes, coaches and healers are vulnerable too!), I found myself reaching out to desserts for comfort. I like to live a life of permissions (not labels or deprivation leading to bingeing), so I wanted to work with someone who approached healing from a place of mindful compassion. I didn’t want to be my own client. Xenia was great in reminding me to be kind to myself. Working with her, brought me peace and helped shift my mindset. I love how desserts and I look at each other now.”

Sweta Vikram, New York, USA

“Working with Xenia was amazing. She armed me with a bunch of tools to help me through difficult times. Xenia is the kind of person who really cares for helping you in the long run. Her work will forever have an impact in my life.”

Daniela Velásquez, Ottawa, Canada

“Working with Xen was a game changer for me. After working together for a few months my relationship with food radically changed. I no longer felt like a failure. I now have the tools to nourish my body with foods that feel good in my body. I don’t feel guilty about eating cake or chocolate, I also don’t overeat cake and chocolate. I no longer feel the need to exercise to compensate for my eating. I feel much more free around eating and I am more accepting of my body. Xen has a nonjudgmental and compassionate approach to coaching and really supports you in the process.”

Rachel, Dublin, Ireland

“Working with Xen has been very empowering. Her approach is so refreshing from the usual. I have learned that I am in charge and that I get to choose what I put in my body and how to move my body in a way that I like! I get to make my own choices. It’s so liberating. Once you get a taste of freedom with food, there is no turning back to old ways! Thanks Xen for guiding me along the way to freedom.”

Heather B, Cork. Ireland

“This is the answer for those of you that struggle with food and all that surrounds it. Xenia said that I could make peace with food and it seemed at the time like an impossible dream. Turns out it isn’t. I recommend Xen and the mindful eating / intuitive eating approach unreservedly. If you have any questions about my experience, please get in touch. Thank you Xen. My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”

Michelle, Johannesburg, South Africa

“Xenia was a walking, living, breathing example of what can be done. I laughed and cried my way through a short course in this fascinating and invigorating programme with her, and have gained a designer tote full of coping skills that go way beyond containing kilogrammes. I feel infinitely lighter. I am doing this for me and, yes, you can do this for you too! And believe me, I’m cynical!”

Diana, Vancouver, Canada

“I don’t obsess about food like I used to. I am thinking differently about food and feeling so much more relaxed around all types of food. It’s wonderful to have pleasure and satisfaction from eating.”

Sarah, Illinois, USA

“I learned a new way of thinking about food. I have learned that food is not the enemy and that it can actually be enjoyed with no guilt.”

Sandy, London, United Kingdom

Certified by The Life Coach School Certified and Trained by The Original Intuitive Eating Pro Professional Member of The Center for Mindful Eating