Intuitive Eating is the polar opposite of a diet. Essentially, it helps you to connect with your body’s signals of hunger, satiety and fullness. So you can re-discover your natural ability to eat normally again. But does intuitive eating work and is it right for you?
I’ll explain in more detail below and you can decide if intuitive eating is right for you.
So, you’ve tried every diet on the planet, and you’re fed up.
But you’re unsure about what the next step might be. You know in your heart of hearts that you can’t keep dieting, and you can’t continue life with your unhealthy eating habits. So what do you do?
Intuitive eating offers you a way out of this struggle and a way in to a more enjoyable, easier eating life–with a lot less food stress.
But to move from a life of dieting to intuitive eating, you have to take a leap of faith and jump off the cliff into unchartered waters.
Will I gain weight? Maybe.
Will I be able to let go of the inner critic? Yes, it’s possible.
Will I like myself on the other side of this struggle? Yes, I think so.
The hard truth is, there WILL be discomfort whatever way you turn.
Disliking your body whilst cycling in and out of the hope that you will love your body if you only can do better or go harder on the next diet, and maybe temporarily lose some weight, is quite frankly nothing but an exhausting dead-end loop.
Honestly, you only have to look back on how many failed diets you have attempted. You’re your own guinea pig here. Diet’s don’t work! They’re cause of your eating issues.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You deserve more. You deserve better.
Okay, so if dieting doesn’t work, what should you do?
Introducing intuitive eating?
Enter intuitive eating and it’s set of 10 principles created over 20 years ago by two Dietitians.
These principles encourage you to understand your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that occur when engaging in dieting or restrictive eating patterns, that may lead you to become disconnected from your body and food.
In short, it’s a step-by-step guide to an evidence-based way of eating that helps you decide when, what, how and how much to eat, based on what feels good for you, instead of societies expectations of what you should eat.
Importantly, it also encourages you to feel good (or at least neutral) emotionally, mentally and physically about food. No more feeling guilty after eating, imagine!
Therefore, it’s about creating a healthy relationship with food, body AND mind.
So if intuitive eating allows us to eat what we like, when we like, does that mean we can just eat all the time and not be mindful?
No, not all of the time. This is not about reckless abandonment. Some flexible discernment with food is necessary, without it being obsessive.
What it does help you do is get to the bottom of why you want to eat a box of donuts and a tub of ice cream when your boyfriend dumps you. So that next time you feel upset, angry or bored, you know you have the option of either eating donuts or talking to a good friend for support.
As an intuitive eating practitioner, my job is to help you understand how your life experiences, and how your thoughts emotions, and behaviours with food and your weight, link to the way you eat. When you understand why you eat, you can become more aware of your available choices.
The people who find it the most helpful are those who tend to overthink food, eating and their weight. They may have also lost touch with their sense of hunger, fullness and appetite cues, and may be stuck in a dieting mentality.
How do you know if you’re out of touch with your hunger and fullness cues?
You feel guilty eating certain foods
You have removed certain foods or whole food groups
You think and speak of certain foods as “good” or “bad”
You count calories, macros or points
You track your food using an app or journal
You use exercise to offset what you eat
If any of these statements sound like you, it’s highly likely you’re not eating intuitively or listening to your body.
Is Intuitive Eating right for me?
Intuitive Eating is for everyone. But particularly for those with a history of chronic dieting. If any of the statements below resonate, you’re in a place where intuitive eating can help you:
You want to feel calm, confident and in control with food
You want to stop thinking about food all the time
You want to be able to trust your body when it tells you it’s hungry and full
You want to be able to trust yourself around all foods – even those foods that are “trigger foods”
You want to be able to eat all foods without any guilt, shame or regret
You want to learn how to cope with your feelings and life’s ups and downs without using food
You want to exercise because you enjoy it and it’s good for you, not to burn the calories you eat
You want to look after yourself and your wellbeing without the obsession.
Does intuitive eating work?
When you start to bring a more mindful and ’embodied’ approach to eating and living in your body (instead of dieting) and start eating enough, eating regularly and eating a wide variety of foods, you can begin to eat intuitively.
Although it sounds simple, intuitive eating can be challenging at first because it involves a lot of deep reflection, self-help work, and eating psychology. For those who want to pursue an intuitive eating approach, there’s often a learning curve involved. It does involve “work” or what I call “self-care”.
Which means you do need to put in some time and energy do to the work. If you only do half the work, you only get half the results. But it is no harder than sticking to a diet and the results are life-long.
It’s absolutely possible to transform your relationship with food and become a normal eater with the right support. I was once in your shoes. Forever riding the diet-binge-weight cycling merry-go-round. If I can get off the ride, so can you!
If this is something that you would like to try and you need personalised guidance, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here>>
Will you write me a meal plan? This is a common question I get asked when clients start working with me. The short answer is: No. Sorry. I do understand why you think you need one. However, many meal plans are one-size-fits-all prescriptions, that are rigid like diets. Moving away from dieting and towards intuitive eating will help you to make a PERMANENT change to your relationship with food. Read on to see why I don’t recommend meal plans and what to do instead.
Why meal plans don’t work
I know you love meal plans because it gives you structure and tells you exactly what to eat. It’s one less thing you have to think about and surely the Nutritionist knows what is best for you to eat to achieve your goals, right? Nope!
In theory, meal plans sound great. Pay someone (ideally a nutrition professional) tell you exactly what to eat, how much food to eat and when to eat it. Most of my clients initially believe that if they just knew what to eat, they’d be able to reach their goals. Sadly, it doesn’t work this way.
In my almost five years of being a Nutritionist and Eating Psychology Coach, I’ve given out only a handful of meal plans, because people simply do not stick to them. Way back in the beginning of my private practice, I started doing this for clients. It seemed like the perfect win-win. They wanted to lose weight, I wanted to be a good Nutritionist, so I gave them exactly what they wanted.
Spoiler alert – They still came back to me week after week with the same issues surrounding food.
When we work together one of my goals is to empower you to start making small and meaningful changes to your relationship with food and your body, that you can sustain.
A meal plan does the exact opposite.
At its worst, it encourages dependency on the Nutritionist. It’s the diet equivalent of someone else doing your homework – you learn nothing! …so what are you paying for? …how is that serving you? It tells me that you may not ready to do the hard work it takes to make meaningful change. That’s okay. You have to be ready.
It’s also important to understand that when we limit food choices and create rigid plans that require sacrifice and leads to deprivation, the likelihood of bingeing increases. Also, most people are really enthusiastic for the first few weeks but then they can’t stick to it because life gets in the way. This is totally normal.
Thinking you have ‘fallen off the meal plan wagon’ can often to lead to giving up and binge eating too.
These are all valid reasons why meal plans don’t work.
Sure, some people do benefit from meal plans
Recovery from all eating disorders requires the normalisation of regular eating patterns. This is best accomplished through flexible planned and structured eating. If you’re trying to stop binge eating or in recovery from binge eating disorder the following meal planning tips may help:
Planning helps to make eating less impulsive.
Planning takes emotions out of eating.
Planning leaves you less vulnerable to binge eating.
Planning means the eating disorder will be less likely to take control.
Planning can also help put parameters around grocery shopping, leaving you less likely to make impulse buys.
Planning a few meals a week allows for the flexibility to explore a new restaurant or to pick up some takeaway depending on your mood. This flexibility is important.
For everyone else – you don’t need a meal plan to eat normally.
What to do instead?
Ultimately if you want to stop binge eating it’s about tuning in to what you want to eat in that moment and learning to trust what you are hungry for. This takes time but with practice, it is 100% achievable. Instead of looking outwards turn inwards and ask ‘what sounds good to me right now?’ ‘How hungry am I today?’ ‘How active will I be today and how much fuel will I need to get me through my busy day?’.
I know change is hard and letting go of a plan can feel like jumping off a cliff, with great distrust about where you will land. Most people are scared about letting go of the structure that diets provide, especially when sticking to the rules was the one thing that had (mostly) ensured they were doing it right with food. Even if it was just for a week or two.
But your body is really smart and more intuitive than any plan telling you what you can and cannot eat. You have unique needs that change season by season, week by week, day by day and even hour by hour.
Instead of following external factors like diets, meal plans or food rules. Instead of me telling you what to eat next Thursday for lunch, we focus on: meal prepping (very different to a meal plan), meal timing, meal and snack options, kitchen organisation etc. (ie: the things that get you sustainable long-term results).
Trust that underneath the anxiety and distrust, you are a smart and capable woman that knows how to take good care of yourself. You have a wise inner voice. You just have to be willing to slow down and listen to her.
Meal plans don’t work. Stop wasting your time and money.
You deserve to nourish yourself with the food you love and have a relationship with food that is easy and enjoyable. And that cannot be found in a diet plan designed by someone else or a computer program.
There’s an old saying…”Give a woman a meal plan and she’ll eat for 3 weeks. Teach her how to eat intuitivelyand she’ll feed herself for a lifetime”. I have no idea who said that, but I love it.
If you would like help with this, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me here>>
Diets should come with a warning label. Warning: Dieting increases your risk of gaining MORE weight. That’s right, diets cause weight gain. Reliable, evidence-based research is proving over and over that no weight loss initiatives to date have generated long term results for the majority of participants.
I’m delving into why below.
Many people know that dieting doesn’t work long term and most are shocked to hear that the process of dieting itself, can in fact increase your body’s propensity to gain weight over time. Scientists call this “dieting-induced weight-gain”.
A 2011 study of more than 2,000 sets of twins aged 16 to 25 years old examined the weight-increasing effect of dieting. The twin who participated in intentional weight loss was nearly two to three times more likely to become overweight than their non-dieting twin.
With each additional dieting effort, their risk of becoming overweight increased even more. The researchers concluded, “It is now well established that the more people engage in dieting, the more they gain weight in the long-term.”
The Journal of Obesity review estimated that, at best, only 20% of participants maintain weight loss at one year, and the percentage of those maintaining weight loss decreases further by the second year.
The researchers suggest that these statistics would be worse if participants who dropped out of the programs and those who had diagnosed comorbidities such as mood disorders or binge eating disorder had been included.
Furthermore, research has also shown this to be true in children; and that the risk of binge eating and food preoccupation increases with the frequency of dieting.
Researchers at UCLA reviewed 31 long-term studies and concluded that dieting is a consistent predictor of weight gain, with up to two-thirds of the participants regaining more weight than they lost.
The conventional approach is ineffective.
But letting go of weight loss and dream of a thinner body is hard. I get it. I’ve been there many, many times.
We live in a world that prizes thinnes. The “thin ideal” is the concept of the ideally slim female body. The common perception of this ideal is a woman who possesses a slender, feminine physique, with a small waist and little body fat.
Oddly enough, the size that the thin ideal woman should be is decreasing while the rate of female obesity is increasing. Making this iconic body difficult for women to healthily attain, let alone maintain.
This creates a gap between the actual appearance of the average woman’s body and its expected appearance which, depending on the extent to which a woman internalises the necessity of living up to this ideal, can have serious psychological effects
The degree to which women are psychologically affected by the thin ideal depends to what extent the ideal is internalised. Research shows us that women generally relate the ideally thin body to positive life outcomes such as happiness, confidence, career and romantic success; and consequently, a majority of women value the thin ideal to some extent.
If not dieting then what?
There is the belief and fear, that quitting dieting – in whatever form that may look like – will cause you to let yourself go.
You’ll never stop eating and your weight will balloon out.
Maybe you will gain weight after quitting dieting. But, maybe you won’t.
The point is, no-one (not even those people who guarantee you will lose weight following their program) has a crystal ball and can see into the future and predict how your weight and shape will change.
I don’t know what your weight will do. I can’t and don’t promise you anything when it comes to your weight.
What IS a fact backed by science is that the pursuit of weight loss through dieting behaviours, in the majority of cases, causes people to re-gain weight and often gain more weight on top of that.
Science has shown us, that there is not one diet or ‘lifestyle change’ out there that can generate sustainable weight loss. If you look at the research, most people are followed up beyond one to two years post the diet. Diets cause weight gain.
What’s the point of putting in all the hard yards, spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, starving, busting your guts doing exercise you hate. To lose the weight and then put it all back on again a few years later…?
Big Investment. Little return.
That’s physically, mentally and emotionally damaging (there’s science to prove that too).
Research aside–what has your own dieting experiences shown you?
Diets cause weight gain. Eventually.
That is why there is a saying that goes along the lines of:
“The quickest way to gain weight is to try and lose weight”.
Health At Every Size (HAES) is a growing movement that “supports people in adopting healthy habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control)”.
The HAES movement focuses on research and epidemiological studies that support the idea that health is achievable at any weight, not EVERY weight. Some core findings include:
-Underweight people get the same diseases as their overweight counterparts -Overweight people live just as long, if not longer, than normal weight people -Underweight and obese people have an equally higher mortality rate -Focusing on weight loss as a tool for health has a very low success rate
It’s a trans-disciplinary movement away from restrictive, weight-focused programs toward a non-diet, weight-neutral approach to healthy lifestyles.
Simultaneously, mindfulness, which has been shown to be a viable approach to improving health in the workplace, is a promising addition to the field.
A variety of organisations, programs, and authors are advocating for a non-diet, weight-neutral, mindfulness-based approach. Evidence for this paradigm shift is accumulating with great results.
The hard truth is, a focus on weight loss as a goal is ineffective. It gets it all backwards.
You need to focus on your health and changing your relationship with food and your body first. Then let weight loss be a byproduct of that. IF there’s weight to lose.
It not sexy. But, IT WORKS!
Stepping off the diet roller coaster is hard. But I’m here to support you every step of the eay and guide you through an approach that is a lot more kinder, enjoyable, long-term, and that gets results.
Is dieting and the pursuit of weight loss holding you back from finding an easy and enjoyable relationship with food and your body? I bet it is.
That’s OK. We all have to start somewhere.
I can’t promise you weight loss, but what I can promise you – I can help you stop emotional eating and/or binge eating and feeling at ease in your body. I have a 100% success rate with my clients.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if this is something that you need help with.
I saw this quote today: “In three months from now, you will thank yourself.” It was an advertisement for a diet. And for the most part I agreed! A person who begins a diet will likely thank themselves in three(ish) months. Unfortunately, if you have dieted before, that high won’t last long. To stop dieting and bingeing completely you need a different approach. Read on while I explain why diets don’t work and how you can stop dieting and bingeing for good.
How to stop dieting and bingeing in three months from now
On a diet you:
Feel virtuous, on a high, in control.
You’ll think – “I’ve got it this time!”
People will comment on your weight loss and you’ll feel validated, accepted.
You may even think you’ve found the answer for your joint pain, insomnia, foggy head, skin rash and fat thighs.
You probably ARE thanking yourself.
But all that will change, eventually.
A few months after that, when stress hormones skyrocket (because restrictive diets are stressful on the body).
Cortisol and fat stores increase. Mood and energy plummet. Metabolism slows down. Adrenal glands get messed up.
The same diet that made you feel on top of the world, will inevitably make you feel like lousy.
And what’s more, you’ll end up blaming yourself, not the diet, for the subsequent changes to your body. Because that’s how the diet industry makes its money.
It sells us plans designed to fail, watches us blame ourselves for the bad experience and then sells the flawed plan back to us – again and again and again…
Maybe in three months you’ll thank yourself. But in 6-12 (less if you’ve dieted before) you’ll be back at square one, blaming yourself.
That’s how diets work. Or that should that be, how they don’t work. We want results and we want them now ~ I get that. I’ve been there too.
But if you really want a certain body shape, you have to be in it for the long haul. Because that’s what is sustainable.
There’s NO quick fix.
Otherwise, you’re going to continue wasting your time, energy and money on this diet/weight loss/weight regain merry-go-round.
Not only is this incredibly unhealthy physically and mentally, you also don’t have time for this. Life’s short.
Find what works to stop dieting and bingeing for YOU and stick to it.
My clients get results that stick in three months. They stop dieting and bingeing in roughly three months. No diets. No deprivation. No weight cycling.
Forty five per cent! This is the number of women I surveyed who said they would still continue to diet despite research concluding that 95% of all dieters regain the weight lost within two to five years. Australia’s peak funding body for medical research, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), has been delivering this advice since 2013: diet’s don’t work in the long-term.
Furthermore, one-third of those people gain even more and end up heavier than when they first started dieting. So, if diet’s don’t work, why are women wedded to them?
Diets don’t work
Ladies, if your doctor told you that she was going to prescribe you a weight loss medicine that worked for Angela, but that she was legally required to say that Angela’s results weren’t typical, that you probably wouldn’t experience Angela’s results, and then told you that it was more likely to leave you less healthy than more healthy, would you take it?
If Viagra failed 95% of the time would we blame guys for not trying hard enough or would we say that the medicine didn’t work?
So, why are women still dieting if diet’s don’t work?
From what I can see in my practice it’s because they’re desperate to attain a particular body type or magic number on the scale, and they still believe dieting or some type of restriction is the only way to get it.
Furthermore, they want that body yesterday. Quick-fix promises to drop 5kg in 14 days, lures them in. However, this is a potentially dangerous and often unhealthy dead end loop.
Moreover, despite the evidence that is recognised by the NHMRC, many people simply do not want to accept diets don’t work long term.
There’s a real grieving process when people are shown the facts. There’s a deep grieving of the ‘thin me’ dream. There’s grief over the time, energy and money lost to dieting. Furthermore, there’s the story many women have told themselves about the person they would become after they lose weight.
Thanks to our diet culture “being healthy” means depriving yourself of the foods you want, taking a no-pain-no-gain approach to physical activity, and keeping a close watch on the scale. We don’t see this lifestyle as problematic.
Most people are wedded to these ideas – it’s the norm. However, just because it’s the norm doesn’t mean it’s healthy. I’ve learned that for me and my clients, trying to follow diet cultures rules does far more harm than good.
What I’ve learnt from years of (failed) dieting
I’ve found that the best guide when it comes to eating isn’t an outside source; it’s connection with my own body and her hunger, satisfaction, needs, and desires. An inborn wisdom that we’re all born with but we unfortunately lose that when we start dieting and following rules from a book.
I’ve learned how to guide myself and other people to break down internalised diet and weight loss beliefs and explore for themselves what foods they find satisfying and sustaining, so they find their balanced weight.
The aim of this is to normalise your relationship with food and find your balanced weight AND keep it. Diet’s don’t work – they give you the OPPOSITE – A disordred relationship with food and yo-yo weight cycling.
Want help getting out of diet autopilot? My program Stop Punishing Start Nourishing helps women give up dieting, without losing control with food, so they can have a body and life they love.
Celebrity diets that encourage “three days of drinking only shakes and herbal teas”, contribute to girls and women developing a hyper-awareness of the size and shape of their body and a disordered relationship with food. Diets are dangerous and simply do not work long-term.
Celebrity diets are dangerous
We of course only see the glamorous sides of celebrities diets. We never see the negative effects.
This type of fad diet that encourages extreme weight loss in a short amount of time is neither sustainable or healthy; physically and mentally. Sure, you will lose weight initially, but you will put it all back on and then some the moment you start eating again.
Rapid weight-loss diets are very unsuccessful at achieving long-term weight loss.
Often fad diets eliminate important nutrients – they are not designed to keep you healthy, they are designed for rapid weight loss, so they do put people at risk nutritionally, and as a result, may experience severe health effects.
These effects can range from fatigue or constipation through to more serious health risks like osteoporosis or an eating disorder.
Long-term dieters may also notice dry skin and nails and their hair may even start falling out. Those who lose weight too quickly may even put themselves at risk for a heart attack.
Food deprivation leads to rebound binge eating.
Overindulging in a food item that you restrict is common if you are a chronic dieter.
So what’s the point of starving yourself for days, knowing it may eventually lead to disordered behaviours towards food such as binge eating, just to fit into a dress for a couple of hours?
Kim Kardashian shared her diet prep with fans. Taking to her app, Kardashian revealed she is following a “cleanse” in the lead up to the Met Gala on May 7th.
According to E! the diet involves eating two-to-four solid meals a day, focusing on lean proteins (like salmon) and leafy salads and vegetables. Days four through to six of the cleanse, however, consist purely of liquids, including shakes and herbal teas.
I’m not sure who’s worse? Kim Kardashian West for promoting disordered eating to millions of her very young and very impressionable fans? Celebrities should NOT be giving out nutrition advice. They are NOT nutrition experts.
Or, Harper’s BAZAAR Australia for being so out of touch with the reality that approximately 15% of Australian women will experience disordered eating or an eating disorder during her lifetime. Stories like these perpetuate the myth that short-term starvation diets are healthy and normal.
Make waves with your wallet ladies. Do not buy these types of magazines or read online articles like these that give you uninformed information and pray on your low self-worth and your money.
No “quick fix” will ever replace a healthy lifestyle, and any diet that promises otherwise is a lie.
While most women who diet do not go on to develop an eating disorder, MANY do develop a disordered relationship with food and their bodies.
It’s important for women to be aware that diets are dangerous, and to understand that your worth is not inextricably tied to your weight. It’s a hard lesson to learn and one that takes time. But it is possible with the right support.
The pressure in Hollywood to stay slim and beautiful may have just caught up with Gwyneth Paltrow.
If you want to look gorgeous in your dress for an event (or anytime), eat a balanced diet of foods you enjoy, move your body regularly, getting adequate sleep and work on managing stress levels with self-care.
By doing these health-promoting behaviours you support your health and well-being and give your body the best possible chance to find it’s own natural set-range weight. And of course, this is something you do weeks and months (dare I say “lifestyle” aka…years) before an event. Not a week before.