The elephant in the room. So, let’s talk about it, girlfriend, cause I know you’re curious. Is it possible to want weight loss AND intuitive eating at the same time? We’ll get to the bottom of that in this post.
Can I Use Intuitive Eating For Weight Loss?
It’s normal and completely understandable to want weight loss. Society has told us that weight loss = food. That weight loss = power. So, why WOULDN’T you want it, right? I thought the same thing for 6 years. So, I lost weight. Like, a LOT of weight. I thought it would make me happier, more likeable, and just make life overall BETTER. Spoiler alert? It didn’t. It left me feeling frustrated that I wasn’t getting the outcomes I was convinced by diet culture that I would get with weight loss.
Now, I don’t think weight loss is bad. At all. It’s a normal thing that can happen to our bodies throughout our lives, just like weight gain and weight maintenance happen. All 3 of these outcomes may happen when you being to eat intuitively: weight loss, weight gain, and weight maintenance. None of these are better outcomes than the other and none of them are the “goal” of intuitive eating. What happens when you start intuitive eating is your body is working to find it’s “set point weight”. In essence, this is the weight where your body WANTS to be, where it functions optimally and feels it’s best, physically and mentally. I have an entire blog post on the topic of set point weight that you can dive into here. Dieting has actually not only been shown to “fail”, it’s actually a predictor of future weight gain.
How Can I Know If I Will Be One To Lose Weight?
Well… ya can’t, really. No one can possibly tell you what is going to happen, which is probably what makes food freedom so scary. It is possible to get an idea if you’re above or below your set point weight, however. If you’re very restrictive in your eating and/or over exercise, weight gain may be in your future. If you find yourself eating emotionally, using food as comfort, frequently experience binges as a result of the restrict-binge cycle, weight loss may be in your future. But, I want to heavily stress there is no way to say what exactly will happen, how much weight you may lose or gain. I CAN say, though, that every single girlfriend in my membership, The SociEATy, has felt BETTER, mentally AND physically, with where their weight landed.
One thing to also note is that when you start intuitive eating it’s not uncommon for there to be initial weight gain and you work on allowing yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods. One study found that those who were put on a diet overshot their fat mass by 145% of their pre-starvation states, however after having no food rules, they came within 5% of their set point weights. A lot of people expect that if they sense that they’re above their set point weights they’ll just immediately start to lose, when, in reality? Not necessarily the case. The food freedom journey may not be linear, and that’s okay. However, I have so much confidence that you WILL fall in a place where you feel mentally and physically amazing.
I have a video all about how to handle weight gain (temporary OR permanent!) as well as my personal story with weight gain on my YouTube channel, be sure to check that out for some seriously helpful tips!
But How Can I Eat Intuitively If I NEED To Lose Weight?
Let’s chat about that belief for a second, here. A lot of time we’re told that weight loss is the fix for our health issues and diets are recommended. What we don’t think about is the fact that diets are actually a predictor of weight GAIN. One study found that only 6% of overweight individuals who lost weight could maintain a 5% weight loss. While, sure, a diet or as they’re being called these days “lifestyles” may lead to weight loss in the short term, in the long term they have an extremely low success rate and typically lead to an overall gain and weight cycling in the process (meaning your weight goes up and down).
The reason that our bodies actually result in gaining weight from dieting is because, essentially, our bodies see dieting as a shortage of food, a state of semi-starvation, if you will. And when this happens they will then pack on some extra energy (weight) in order to prevent another, future starvation state. This is how our set point weight gets increased. Plus, the weight cycling that occurs with yo-yo dieting has actually been shown to increase risk of disease.
Furthermore, I’d challenge the idea that you NEED to lose weight. We are learning more and more that weight itself is NOT an indicator of health status. Rather, health behaviors not weight are what impacts health. If you haven’t read the book Health At Every Size I would highly, HIGHLY recommend doing so. It truly de-bunks the weight and health myths.
We talk a lot about health behaviors in the SociEATy, like moving your body in ways that you enjoy, eating nourishing foods and gentle nutrition. One common misconception about intuitive eating is that it’s “unhealthy” and you’ll just eat donuts all day long. Absolutely untrue and I talk more about this in my post all about gentle nutrition.
Just because two things are correlated does not mean one causes the other. I once heard the analogy that hair loss and heart disease risk were correlated, meaning that found that balding was common in men with heart disease. But, you wouldn’t give Rogaine to try to fix someone’s heart disease, would you? Same goes for weight loss and health. Just because someone has a higher weight and certain health issues it doesn’t mean that the weight CAUSED the health issues. Make sense?
But, What If I STILL Want To Lose Weight?
Okay, so you’re starting to realize that dieting doesn’t work, you can be healthy at any size, but…. ya’ still want to lose weight. To that I say “I feel ya, sister, and that’s okay.” It’s OKAY to not be ready to jump shift from wanting to lose weight after reading one blog post. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be worried.
My goal is to help guide you along the way. To continue to educate and inform you. To continue to open your mind to this totally backwards way to living, with no food rules, that goes against everything that diet culture had taught us.
I’d so much rather someone start to learn about intuitive eating even if they’re unsure about letting go of their weight loss goals than never even try to learn more. Or they try to wait until they’re “ready” and it’s the “perfect time”. Dive it. It’s okay for your journey to be “messy”. All of ours are! Keep an open mind. Keep learning. Keep challenging the status quo of diet culture. Keep growing as a person.
I created a free quiz to help you understand what is holding you back from living a life of no food rules which includes a custom workbook to help you overcome it. You can take that quiz here and also be sure to download my free e-book, The Ultimate 5 Step Guide To Food Freedom. These are both really great place to start if you’re interested in learning more about food freedom and living a life of no food rules.
Bottom Line About Weight Loss And Intuitive Eating
Weight loss can happen with intuitive eating, but it’s not the goal. In order to truly eat intuitively and listen to your body, you must allow your body to find it’s set point weight.
So, girlfriend, does that answer your question? Does it help you understand more about wanting weight loss AND intuitive eating? I hope so! Leave a comment on this post and let me know your thoughts. I want to hear them!
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