Category Archives for "Diet Mentality"

worrying what others think

Stop Worrying About What Others Are Thinking About You

 

How much time do you spend on average each day wondering if or what someone is thinking about you?

You’ve likely worried about what “others” will think, where the others are nameless, faceless people you may not even know.

Has someone given you a strange or threatening look that causes you to spiral down into anxiety or even shame?

There’s probably a good reason why we have these worries. Perhaps there was a benefit to this worry that served humans when small groups or tribes were the main social structures in which people gathered and lived.

But today this worry doesn’t have much benefit. Instead, it serves at best, as a distraction from what you were doing in that moment. But worst case scenario, it can ruin an entire day, take you off course or cause you to make changes or decisions that go against your personal values, in an attempt to please someone else or make them like you.

Dr. David Sack, a board-certified psychiatrist and addiction specialist, says in his article, 8 Ways to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think, that our DNA is coded with this need to belong. This becomes problematic, however, when we care more about what others are thinking about us (or what we think they’re thinking) than how we feel and what we think about ourselves.

Diet Mentality & What Others Think

If you have recovered from disordered eating, or if you’re currently in the process of making peace with food and your body, you’ve probably experienced this concern about what others are thinking. It shows up everywhere in your life if you’re dealing with disordered eating or an eating disorder. In fact, our culture encourages girls and women to be worried about what others think.

Have you seen the “tissue test” commercial? It’s brilliant from a marketing perspective. One woman asks another if she’s used the tissue test. She pulls a tissue out of her purse, and a mirror, and tells the other woman to compare her teeth to the tissue. Of course, the woman is horrified that her teeth aren’t tissue-white and wants to know what she can do about it.

The brand has created a new beauty standard with an easy to remember gimmick that keeps women focused on how white their teeth are, so they’ll buy more teeth whitener. It’s absolutely disgusting, but it is an excellent example of how women are trained to worry about what others are thinking about them.

Side note: When I searched Google for the ’tissue test,’ I noticed the majority of first page results were for blog posts by other people that are as disgusted as I am about this commercial. Awesome!

When it comes to dieting, food obsession, body hatred, shame and all the other negative consequences of believing you must be thin to be accepted, there are plenty of examples of worrying about what others think. See if you can relate…

1. I should order a salad, they may think I’m too indulgent if I get a hamburger.

2. I can’t go to the party. I’ve gained too much weight. They will all know I failed my diet and gained all the weight back.

3. I won’t be caught dead in a bathing suit – all those people judging me? I’ll go on vacation after I lose weight. (I’ve heard this more than once!)

4. I’m not hungry, I just ate. But the people I’m meeting with will be eating, so I have to eat something, too.

5. Everyone is just going to stare at me as I walk slowly on the treadmill. I have to lose weight and get in better shape before I work out at the gym.

In case you’re wondering if I’m just being dramatic in my examples, well, no, I’m not. I wish I could say they aren’t real. But unfortunately, I’ve heard these exact statements and several variations many times. It’s heartbreaking to know someone is holding herself back because of her fear of being judged. I also understand this way of thinking because I had similar beliefs and fears of how I was being judged.

What’s interesting about the worry is that many of these thoughts fit into the diet mentality, as described by the authors of Intuitive Eating.

Diet mentality has three main components. They are:

All-or-nothing thinking (or black & white thinking). Comment #3 and 5 represent this thinking.
Believing willpower (or just trying harder next time) is what it will take to lose weight. 
Blaming yourself for your “failures” with dieting. Comment #2 demonstrates how we blame ourselves for not staying on a diet – but it’s the fault of the diet industry! They create the diets to fail.

Some typical comments won’t necessarily fit diet mentality thinking, but they are cognitive distortions – common ways of thinking that are generally incorrect and often have negative consequences for thinking that way. For example, comment #5 is a good example of exaggeration, along with all or nothing thinking. Comment #4 is an example of jumping to conclusions. Other types of distorted thinking show up with perfectionism and the use of “shoulds,” especially when discussing food and eating.

There are several cognitive distortions, and Dr. Sack refers to a couple more in his article.

So what’s the solution to stop this disabling worry that keeps you so stuck?

Remember This Important Truth

I share an important truth with my clients when they get caught up in worry about what others are thinking. Make sure to read and remember this:

When you’re worried about people looking at you and thinking bad thoughts about you or judging you, remember…

They are much too busy worrying about other people looking at them, thinking bad thoughts or judging them!

Everyone is so caught up in worrying about how they look, what people are thinking and how they are being judged that they have little opportunity or interest in thinking about or judging you!

Not sure if you believe me? I have proof!

I’ve worked with hundreds of women privately, in groups, and in conversations by phone, email or chat. Every single one of them has had this concern. Many have since let go of the worry of what others are thinking about them as they make peace with food and their bodies. But this doesn’t mean they now have the time to judge other people. One of my favorite things about putting an end to judging yourself is you tend to no longer judge anyone else, either.

The next time you’re in a situation where the usual worry about what people are thinking sneaks up, stop for a moment and remember that most, if not all of the people around you are doing the same. This would be a great time to feel some compassion for those still suffering from this mindset. You’ll feel good and your positive energy could have a positive impact on another person!

Create a New Mindset

There are several strategies for letting go of the worry and the constant anxiety it produces. What I’ve shared above is an effective strategy that will appeal to some. However, Dr. David Sack’s article has a total of 8 ways to work on your mindset in order to let go of your worry. Imagine the freedom you will have when you let go and can assume the best of people you’re around!

You’ll enjoy yourself more and you’ll probably discover many people are interested in getting to know you (which is what you really wanted in the first place, right?). The fear and worry usually represent that natural desire we have for people to like us. It will never be everyone, so let that go, and embrace your new freedom!

Make sure to check out Dr. Sack’s article for ideas you can start using right away:

8 Ways to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think


Let me know what strategy you try out and how it goes in the comments below!

 

sugary ice cream

Some Sanity About Sugar… Finally! Now Go Enjoy That Cookie…

 

The “sugar is evil” hysteria (that’s right, I called it hysteria) is driving me crazy. Everywhere I turn, it seems, someone is spouting off about the horrors of sugar. I’m not saying that sugar is a health food, but I would like to restore some sanity about sugar and have a discussion using facts, not random thoughts of some random guru trying to sell another diet book. Rarely do you hear actual facts backed up by real science in the news, on talk shows or in articles, books or on the internet.

I will write a post all about sugar, including how the body uses it, its effects on the body and your health, and the actual real-life conspiracy that kept the dangers of consuming excessive amounts of sugar and the sugar-heart disease link hidden for decades. (Spoiler alert: Sugar industry insiders paid off the researchers to hide the bad news about sugar and only release information about the link between dietary fat and heart disease!)

For the purposes of this post, I’ll share two facts:

  1. Carbohydrates, simple or complex, are the most important source of energy for the body. Everyone wants to know how to “burn fat” while exercising. First, eat carbs! The body cannot use fat for energy unless there are carbs present in the body as well. This is the case for carbs found in any food – pasta, rice, donuts, cookies, whole wheat bread, fruits, vegetables and even sucrose (table sugar).
  2. Yes, sugar can be harmful to the body. But it’s about the amount. Ask any toxicologist about harmful or deadly substances – they aren’t poisonous or deadly as substances. It’s always about the amount of the substance. Our bodies need iron, we can’t live without it. But if we take too much, it can make us very sick or even kill us. The same goes for any fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E or K. Deficiencies of any of these cause horrible problems, such as rickets due to insufficient Vitamin D. But too much Vitamin D can cause calcium to build up in your blood, leading to nausea, vomiting, weakness, and more. As with most things in life, there’s a certain amount that improves health, but more doesn’t always mean better! It’s the amount, that cookie will not make you a diabetic!

Just about everything I’ve seen, heard or read lately about sugar is full of doom and gloom. You’d think sugar is some kind of ax murderer or something!

I was very excited to come across an article actually dispelling myths about sugar. Written for Business Insider, the author interviewed cardiologist Dr, Jennifer Haythe, from Columbian Presbyterian Hospital in New York. Here are a few of my favorite myths busted in the article, “8 Myths About Sugar You Need to Stop Believing,” along with my own thoughts about each myth as well.


MYTH: Some types of sugar are better for you than others.

FACT: All ‘types’ of sugar have the same effect on your body.

“There’s this idea that there are different types of sugar, but that’s a myth,” Haythe said. “Brown sugar, white sugar, honey… they are all ultimately broken down into the same thing: glucose. All forms of sugar are carbohydrates that can be used as glucose.”

I know some people will read this and tell me I’m ruining people’s health (I’ve actually been told this by someone who didn’t have a clue about nutrition or disordered eating). They may say there are other types of sugar that are processed differently in the body, like fructose, or the other “evil” sugar known as high fructose corn syrup. All things being equal, I’d rather have sucrose-sweetened soda than HFCS. And I do agree that regular Coke with sugar is way better than Coke with HFCS, but that’s what is used in the US. (In Mexico, they still use sugar and occasionally you can find it in the US, but not often).

There’s no grand conspiracy behind changing so many processed foods and drinks from sucrose to HFCS. Can you guess what is really behind it? It’s money. HFCS is cheaper than sugar. But the big uproar over HFCS is that it contains fructose. On the surface, the argument makes sense. Fructose has to be processed by the liver before it can be used for energy, while glucose can be used immediately.

However, what no one talks about is the molecular makeup of sucrose compared to HFCS. Both contain glucose and fructose. Sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. HFCS is 45% glucose and 55% fructose (in some products containing HFCS, the glucose content is higher than the fructose!). Looking at these facts, it’s  about as useless as arguing over the difference between 1% and 2% milk. It’s 1% difference! Just drink whichever you like better, and stop arguing. (Note: When we were all crazed over cutting out fat because it was so “bad” for us, some new mothers were feeding their babies non-fat milk. If you know anyone who is doing this, tell them to please stop and let the baby have full-fat milk already! They need it and your baby isn’t overweight!)

 

MYTH: Sugar is as addictive as hard drugs.

FACT: There is no conclusive evidence that sugar is addictive.

“There’s no evidence that sugar can act as a gateway drug,” Haythe said. “You can’t get high from sugar, and there’s no conclusive evidence that sugar is addictive.” There are multiple conflicting studies concerning the subject of sugar addiction. One French study published in 2013 links cravings for sweets with the ‘reward’ center of our brains that are induced by addictive drugs. The study concluded that sugar can be even more addictive than cocaine.

But other doctors and researchers contest that study’s findings, stating that you only see addiction-like behavior in rodents when the animals are restricted to eating sugar for a certain time frame each day. When the test subjects are allowed to eat sugar whenever they want – like humans – the addictive properties vanish.

So feeding mice only sugar for a length of time each day makes them eat more than if the sugar is available at all times. Sounds just like intuitive eating! When you take away the restriction, the sugar isn’t something you can only have occasionally. You dream about it and want it all the time. Have it around all the time, your mind knows you can have it whenever and you usually end up eating it only when you really want it, which isn’t often.

I love the argument that says, since sugar lights up the reward center in our brain, it must mean sugar is addictive. It’s this flawed “logic” that perpetuates this myth that you can be addicted to sugar!

You know what else can light up the ‘reward’ center of our brains?

• Listening to music
Exercising
• Checking off an item on your to-do list
• Having sex
• Meditating
• Getting into flow state
• Most things that make us happy

Yes, dopamine is absolutely related to drugs and other addictions. This doesn’t mean that everything that increases dopamine in the brain causes addiction. That’s ridiculous.  Studies conducted on rats (or mice), when testing a substance to see if it is safe for humans often give the mice huge amounts of the substance. Quite often these substances given to the test subjects are in amounts so large no human could ever consume the equivalent amount.

Sugar addiction and general food addiction do not exist. There may be an addictive quality to the actual act of eating certain foods, or in obtaining the foods. But the dopamine response to food, even in someone that binge eats, is much weaker compared to the dopamine response for a narcotic or barbiturate type of drug. Besides, if you thought you were “addicted to food,” how would you feel? Would you have much hope for recovery? The stigma of addiction future complicates overcoming food issues.

Could you give your food issues to your higher power? Not when you have to eat 3 or more times a day. No one can abstain from food, therefore 12-step and other addiction recovery models do not work for long-term recovery from disordered eating. I understand why people think they are addicted to food, but even if it were a possibility, it serves no positive purpose to believe it could happen.


MYTH: You should eliminate all sugar from your diet.

FACT: Humans need glucose to survive.

Of course, having too much sugar will lead to the problems we discussed above, like weight gain and long-term health problems. But, glucose is essential to our body.

“This idea that sugar is inherently bad for you is a myth,” Haythe said. “We all need sugar; that’s the basic block of what runs our bodies. It’s necessary to survive.”

But this perspective is heavily contested in the medical community. A 2015 research widely-distributed paper from Robert Lustig – who famously has spent his career debunking the “fat is evil” myth – concluded from a series of studies that “sugar is toxic” in any form, regardless of calories or weight.

That said, eliminating all sugar from your diet would be almost impossible. Fruit, potatoes, and other starchy foods all have high glycemic indexes, so you’d have to eliminate all of them before your sugar intake was whittled down to nothing.

Glucose is the ‘sugar’ in blood sugar. As mentioned above, glucose is essential if we want to walk, talk, eat and especially think! Fat (body fat or fat in the bloodstream) cannot be used to produce energy without carbohydrate available in the body to start the complicated processes that extract energy from nutrients. Plus, our brains can only run on glucose, the brain does not use fat for energy.

On the high-protein diets so popular these days, carbohydrate intake is often dangerously low. This forces the body to break down protein for energy. Protein is used by the body for repair and generation of all body tissues and structures. It’s not an ideal energy source. When used for energy (which sometimes includes the breakdown of your own muscle tissue to obtain protein), the end result is ketone bodies. This creates the state of ketosis that low-carb people get so excited about. Yay! I get to feel like garbage for the next few days, awesome!

My point is breaking down protein (or catabolizing) from your body’s tissues or using dietary protein for energy is not an ideal state for the body. The brain wants glucose, not ketone bodies. They are just a backup system in the case of emergency. Ever wonder why your mind feels fuzzy while on a high-protein/low-carb diet? Now you have your answer. Of course, you may be so sick with the “low-carb flu” that you don’t notice your mind is running on fumes.

Another issue not mentioned in this article is that cutting out sugar, or just the thought of doing so, will cause many to quickly descend into diet mentality. Sugar becomes all you can think of, day and night. Once you break and allow yourself to have some, overeating or binging usually follows. What comes next? Yes, it’s our old friends guilt and shame. You’re back in the diet-binge cycle because you thought you were doing the “healthy” thing for your body.

Eat the cookie and enjoy it! Without deprivation, the overeating and binging won’t be as much of a problem, if at all.


MYTH: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

FACT: Both types of diabetes are caused by a mix of genetics and environmental factors, but a sugary diet cannot directly cause it (alone).

“Eating sugar does not cause diabetes; it’s a complicated problem involving your pancreas and metabolism,” Haythe said. “When you have diabetes, you don’t produce enough insulin. Insulin helps the glucose get absorbed into your bloodstream and liver as usable energy.” 

“… This makes a diet heavy in sugar an indirect, rather than a direct cause of type 2 diabetes.”

In this article, much to my disappointment, the doctor they interviewed, Dr. Jennifer Haythe, did claim being overweight or obese can lead to insulin resistance, which can then lead to diabetes.

I really take issue with this statement. In The Intuitive Eating Workbook, written by the same authors of the book Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, cite a study in which “overweight” patients with type 2 diabetes were put on diets for weight loss and followed for six years, along with a similar group not given a diet or any eating instruction.

At the end of the six years, the researchers were quite surprised to find that the prognosis for the dieting group was worse than the group that did nothing and remained overweight. In other words, the dieting group did not improve their health or diabetes status, but the group that didn’t diet or make any attempt to lose weight were now healthier than the dieting group.

In fact, while health professionals frequently say that weight loss is the most important factor in improving health for type 2 diabetics, a mere 10% reduction in weight has been shown to improve health. Many people just give up because losing a large amount of weight seems impossible. They haven’t been told that 5 to 10% is really all that’s needed.

Of course, everyone is different and only your personal health team will be able to advise you. But it is still important to know about the research and discuss these things with your doctor. Many of the general practitioners and even the specialists these days are getting most of their education from the drug representatives that visit the office on a regular basis. Make sure you’re informed. No one else will care about your health as much as you do!

There are 8 total myths discussed in the article. They are all well-worth reading and thinking about. You can read the entire article on Business Insider right here:
http://www.businessinsider.com/sugar-myths-not-true-2017-9?IR=T%2F

What do you think about these myths? Are you relieved to learn a belief isn’t true? Maybe you’re not convinced despite having read the article. Have questions? Please feel free to comment, leave your opinion and ask questions in the comment section! I would love to hear from you and get your thoughts!

1 diets in disguise are as depressing as regular diets

Diets in Disguise: Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

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Beware of Diets in Disguise

Have you given up on diets, only to find yourself caught up in the diet mentality or old disordered eating patterns resurfacing? You may be caught up in one of several potential “diets in disguise” that can bring up diet mentality thinking faster than you can whip out your old calorie counts book. (Please throw that thing out already!)

Maybe you’ve decided to eat only “healthy” foods.

You may have given up on your last diet plan, but resolved to “just eat low-carb.”

What about that “lifestyle change” you thought was different, until a chocolate craving hit and took over for the next few days…

If you’ve rejected diets but keep ending up in the familiar “post-diet binge” or overeating episode, you aren’t crazy.

You’re probably still dieting… you just don’t know it!

It happens to most of us at one time or another after writing off diets. You think, “I’m not dieting, but I should (or even want to) eat healthy foods.”

And I understand this thinking. Of course, you’ve been starving your body and not treating it very well. So eating healthy foods may undo some of that damage. Plus, you’ll feel good, knowing you’re giving your body good nutrition. It makes sense.

But if you notice you’re obsessing over food or eating, or craving foods that don’t qualify as “healthy,” or you’re repeating old, familiar patterns you thought were left behind in your dieting days, you may still be dieting.

As crazy as it sounds, you’re likely on one of the sneaky “diets in disguise.” It’s like the wolf in sheep’s clothing!

Before you stop reading, thinking I’ve lost it and that I want to you to be unhealthy (which I have been accused of by people who don’t get it), let me explain.

A Diet by Any Other Name… Is Still a Diet!

Let’s start with the definition of a diet. There are several elements common to all diets, and these elements generally create food and eating issues for so many who attempt them. A sure way to spot diets in disguise is to look for all the rules.

a wolf in sheep's clothing is similar to diets in disguise

Here are just a few common rules:

what you can eat (such as eating only “healthy foods,” or no more than 30 grams of carbs a day, etc.)
when you can eat (don’t eat after 6 pm, eat breakfast as soon as you wake up, etc.)
why you eat (you can only eat when you’re hungry, eat 6 meals a day – whether you’re hungry or not, etc.)
how you eat (eat with no distractions, chew each bite 20 times, etc.)
how much you eat (only fill half your plate, limits on calories, carbs, fat, protein, etc.)

I realize some of the ideas above sound like good advice. But remember, if you have dieted for any length of time, you likely have a little rebel living in your head that doesn’t want to be told what to do! Diets always have rules set by someone other than yourself – this is another way to spot one.

You can create your own rules, or guidelines, or whatever word you prefer to avoid feeling triggered. But if you are still early in the process of making peace with food, your own “rules” may feel too restrictive. Later, you will be able to make these decisions for yourself because you’ll be motivated to do what feels good for both your mind and body. It gets easier over time to make decisions about eating food that’s “healthier” than other food. You want to feel good and in general, healthier food feels better.

However, if you haven’t made peace with food yet, remember all foods are allowed and you make the decisions about what to eat.

Be Aware of Diets in Disguise…

Here are some other “diets in disguise” to watch out for:

• Deciding you’ll just “count calories” or “count fat/carb/protein grams” (let’s not forget about counting “points” too!).

calorie counts of selected foods - don't count calories

• Eliminating all of a particular food (pasta, butter, etc.) or ingredient (sugar, flour, etc.) There are exceptions, especially if you’re allergic or sensitive to a certain food or ingredient.

cutting out all sugar is a diet in disguise

• Adopting an alternative way of eating strictly to lose weight (gluten free, vegetarian, paleo, etc.) is one of the more common diets in disguise.

an alternative way of eating strictly to lose weight - even eating only apples - is an example of diets in disguise.

• Restricting what you eat in public or with certain people, so you can be seen as or receive compliments for being “good.”

Do you eat less when you think others are watching?

• Eating low-calorie/calorie-free “foods” when you’re hungry, with the intention to keep your calorie intake low (such as diet soda, gum, coffee, water) is one of the most common of the diets in disguise.

eating "fat-free, low calorie" rice cakes is another example of diets in disguise

• Using the “tools” of dieting: food scale, measuring cups or spoons (to determine portions), calorie books, and the bathroom scale.

weighing your portions can be a diet in disguise

 

But I’m Not Dieting, I’m Making a Lifestyle Change…

One final example of diets in disguise that drives me crazy is what many refer to as a Lifestyle Change.

Have you done this one? You declare, “I’m not on a diet, I’m making a Lifestyle Change!”

So, how did that go? Yep, me too – didn’t work!

Think about the term – Lifestyle Change – how does that feel to you? For me, it sounds like a lot of work! Do you really want to change your lifestyle?

I can understand changing some habits that aren’t serving you. That makes sense, but your entire lifestyle? Even if you do want to do a complete overhaul of your life, how overwhelming is it going to be to work on all the different pieces at once?

Imagine waking up on day one of your brand new Lifestyle Change. First on the list is to exercise. Then it’s time to clear out the kitchen of all those things you “can’t” eat, go get new groceries and figure out what you’re going to eat as you change everything about your life. And don’t forget to start meditating! Then you can take on that long list of other new habits you want to create. Plus, you still have all your other responsibilities to get done! Your new “lifestyle change” isn’t going to last long, if you make it through that first day.

We’ve all done this, right? You make a New Year’s resolution to work out, and on January 2nd you get up at the crack of dawn, throw on your clothes and hit the gym. Two or three weeks later, it’s hard to get up early. The snooze button is the only thing getting a workout.

Sound familiar? That’s just one change, adding exercise. Clearly, a lifestyle change is not the way to go.

Be especially careful of weight loss companies offering a “lifestyle change.” Years ago, Weight Watchers launched a campaign in which they claimed their program was NOT a diet, it was a lifestyle change. Given the definition of a diet, it’s obvious that Weight Watchers IS a diet. They restrict how much you eat with their points system, and restriction has long been at the center of their programs as well as any other diet.

But What About My Health? Making Peace With Food is the Best Solution

Don’t fall for it! If you’re still learning to make peace with food and eat intuitively, please take your time. Don’t rush the process. (And, be careful not to turn intuitive eating into a diet, too!) You’ll learn amazing things that will improve your relationship with food but help you live a more balanced, happy life.

You don’t need to do anything more to make this happen, simply continue moving forward towards peace with food!

Most people I’ve worked with and others I know that have made peace with food do eventually gravitate towards more nourishing, healthier food. The diet mentality fades and they learn to eat for pleasure, without guilt or shame.

It’s easy to get caught up in the scare tactics. Watching a few commercials or a couple hours on the internet will have you believe that death or disease is hiding right behind that bag of chips or the donut you’ve been craving.

Remember to stay logical. No one gets sick from eating one donut, a single serving of processed food, or a scoop or two of ice cream with real sugar. Chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease or cancer don’t develop overnight, nor do they develop from eating a donut if you really want it. Diseases like these come about over many years, due to many factors, only one of which is what you eat. But genetics, level of activity, smoking status, stress level, and probably other factors not yet discovered also play a role in the development of chronic disease.

One final point… Sugar is not poison. Ask any toxicologist what kills people. They will tell you that it’s not about the substanceit’s about the dose. This is so important to remember if you want real peace with food.

If you eat donuts morning, noon and night for years, you may develop a health problem down the road. Eating an occasional donut – when you really want it – will help you make and keep peace with food. That peace stops the binging, emotional eating and urges to diet. It also keeps you from accidentally ending up on one of these diets in disguise. There’s also nothing more rewarding than getting your life back – that’s the best outcome from making peace with food!

I would love to hear from you! Have you ever found yourself on one of these diets in disguise? What happened? When did you realize it was a diet?

Are you still struggling with making peace with food? Are you worried your body will suffer if you don’t “eat clean?” Please leave a comment. Let me know what’s going on and why you’re concerned and let’s sort it out.

 

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2 missing the point of intuitive eating

Missing the Point of Intuitive Eating

A few weeks ago, I received a message from a colleague. She told me another professional in our field was advocating adding calorie counting to the intuitive eating process. Why? Apparently, according to this person, because intuitive eating “doesn’t work for weight loss.” This is another example of a disturbing trend of completely missing the point of intuitive eating.

There are (at least!) two huge problems with combining calorie counting with intuitive eating. First, counting calories is a waste of time and can actually cause you to gain weight. I will share more about this in an upcoming post.

Second, anyone that actually knows what they’re talking about will tell you that weight loss is NOT a goal of intuitive eating. Never has been, never will be.

This is really annoying. Almost daily I see a post, video or podcast talking about how intuitive eating “doesn’t work” for whatever reason. I’ve seen even worse said about it by people who think fat shaming and deprivation are perfectly acceptable.

The internet is pretty awesome, but the trolls are working overtime to make it all about them and their insecurities… but I digress.

A couple weeks ago I saw an article on what I think is a lifestyle site for millennials. (I’m guessing, I didn’t take the time to find out exactly what it was.) What caught my attention was an article by a woman who tried the “intuitive eating diet” for a week.

She actually called it The Intuitive Eating Diet.

I left a lengthy comment explaining that intuitive eating was not a diet, and to call it a diet went against everything it stood for. I doubt anyone read it. It was likely lost among the comments about the images of the food the writer ate during her week.

Talk about missing the point of intuitive eating!

I try to see this trend as a good sign. The word is spreading about intuitive eating, even though many don’t quite get it. I am happy about this.

But the more the word spreads, it becomes a horrible game of “telephone.” As more people talk about it, the purpose and intention behind it become twisted and distorted by those that are simply missing the point of intuitive eating.

The ‘Limits’ of Intuitive Eating?

One of the worst examples of missing the point of intuitive eating comes from a study that was written about in the New York Times in November 2015. This study used a painfully small sample size of 16 “overweight” men and women recruited from a community college.

Half the volunteers were put on a diet of 1200 to 1800 calories a day, according to the NY Times. They also learned how to eat “healthy” given the calorie restriction.

The other half were instructed to follow the 10 principles outlined in the book Intuitive Eating. All subjects were measured, weighed, etc. at 3 weeks and at the end of the 6-week study.

In the end the diet group lost an average of 5.3 pounds. The intuitive eating group lost very little, and some gained up to 2 pounds.

According to this article, the lead researcher, Judith C. Anglin, said about the intuitive eating group, “…their discipline, luck or bodily self-awareness apparently deserted them, and most began regaining weight.”

Really? I have a feeling Judith C. Anglin didn’t read her copy of Intuitive Eating.

Discipline? That’s for dieting, NOT eating intuitively.

Luck? What does luck have to do with anything?

Bodily self-awareness? In 6 weeks, with minimal instruction – they wouldn’t have developed it, let alone be “deserted” by it! (I sense a snarky tone in our friend Judith’s comments as well, how about you?)

A Flawed Premise Delivers Flawed Results

Can you see the serious flaws in this study? They practically scream out to me, and to the large number of other professionals that spoke out against this article and the study it described.

The New York Times also posted this article on their blog, giving many of the frustrated professionals, advocates and those whose lives have been changed by intuitive eating a chance to have their say.

There are over 90 comments! An overwhelming majority point out that the researcher and writer are missing the point of intuitive eating.

While this article came out in late 2015, a year and a half later the misconceptions and inaccurate claims continue. It’s frustrating to hear a professional tell her followers that intuitive eating doesn’t work for weight loss and counting calories is the way to go. This is coming from someone that claims she doesn’t believe in diets!

So I’m going to do what I can to set the record straight – about this study and in general, here in my little corner of the internet. I’ll do my best to keep it to 3 short points…

#1: I can’t say it enough: Weight loss is NOT the goal of Intuitive Eating! I guarantee if you approach intuitive eating with the intention to lose weight, you never, ever will. Many people do lose weight as they make peace with food and learn to eat intuitively…

But not if they are focused on weight loss.

No one that truly understands intuitive eating will ever claim it’s a weight-loss method or program! Those that do are completely missing the point of intuitive eating.

#2: No one becomes an intuitive eater in 6 weeks! The way this study was designed set the intuitive eating group up for failure before it even began (kind of like diets do!).

Intuitive eating is a journey. Part of this journey includes a healing process – your body and mind must both heal from the damage dieting has caused. For many, disordered eating patterns have developed over years, and it will take longer than 6 weeks to identify and overcome these patterns and their cause.

Disordered eating, emotional eating and binge eating behaviors didn’t develop overnight. Therefore, they won’t go away overnight either.

I wonder how much instruction the intuitive eating group received about the 10 principles in the book, Intuitive Eating. It’s likely it was a simple overview of these principles, which isn’t very helpful, especially without assistance in learning how to apply them to your own unique situation. Six weeks isn’t anywhere near enough time to learn all 10 – they build upon each other and often you need to have a good understanding of one to move to the next.

It’s also extremely difficult to see past your own diet mentality thinking and behaviors. Self-sabotage will happen in the process of making peace with food. But it’s very hard to recognize it when you’re the one engaging in it. This is a journey that requires patience, time and support.

#3: The ill-informed comments of the researcher of this study, “…their discipline, luck or bodily self-awareness apparently deserted them, and most began regaining weight,” seems to imply that the subjects using intuitive eating had failed, or at the very least that intuitive eating failed.

If the intention behind intuitive eating were to lose weight in 6 weeks, then yes, it would be considered a failure. But again, weight loss is not the intention of intuitive eating.

In fact, a small amount of weight gain is actually normal in the very early stages of the intuitive eating process. When you’re making peace with food, you will inevitably be adding back in several foods that you’ve restricted for years.

The “diet deprivation backlash” the Intuitive Eating authors talk about can show up, causing some overeating when introducing a formerly banished or restricted food. But the overeating doesn’t last very long.

“If I let myself eat (your favorite food here), I’ll never stop eating it,” is a common objection to making all foods legal.

I certainly had these same thoughts. I also didn’t want to gain weight to make peace with food. But my mentor in this process asked a very important question, “Are you willing to gain a few pounds now, to eventually reach your natural weight and stay there without any effort?

I was willing, but not thrilled with the idea of gaining more weight. However, after gaining a few pounds, my weight stabilized and stayed there for a while I was working through the process. Apparently, I wasn’t at my natural weight, because I did eventually lose weight. In time I became more comfortable in my body and I maintained my weight without any focused effort. This is exactly what my mentor had told me would happen.

My experience is similar to what I see with my clients. Some gain weight in the beginning, but usually no more than 5 to 10 pounds. The others stay at their current weight while their bodies are healing from the damage done by yo-yo dieting.

This healing begins when you begin to honor your body by feeding it when you are hungry. It will begin to make the changes needed to return to optimal functioning, including releasing more fat for fuel, rather than storing it, and returning to a healthier, properly functioning metabolism.

There are even more incorrect statements being spread by those who are obviously missing the point of intuitive eating – statements like, “it doesn’t work,” or, “you can’t lose weight while eating intuitively,” and my favorite, “too many people are turning intuitive eating into a diet…

(If you do see comments saying intuitive eating doesn’t work because people turn it into a diet, understand this is flawed thinking. It does happen, but it doesn’t mean intuitive eating doesn’t work. Check out my thoughts on the “intuitive eating diet” for the truth.)

The Reality: Intuitive Eating Is Not A Weight Loss Strategy, but…

I want to be very clear: intuitive eating, mindful eating, making peace with food, whatever you call this process, it is NOT a weight loss program. Weight loss is not and never has been the intended outcome. Only those that are missing the point of intuitive eating make these claims.

Yes, you can lose weight during or after you’ve made peace with food and made intuitive eating part of your life. But weight loss is a natural process that your body takes care of – we have no control over it, and this is a good thing!

Anytime you focus on losing weight, you’re creating a stressful situation for both your body and your mind. This stress puts you into fight or flight, causing many physiological responses that keep your body from releasing stored fat. These responses include stimulating carbohydrate cravings and an inability to fully absorb the nutrients from the food you are eating.

From my own journey in making peace with food and my 13+ years of working with clients on chronic dieting, emotional overeating and binging, I know that weight loss as a goal is always going to backfire. In fact, we’ve all heard that 95% or more of diets don’t work, right? Well, every single one is focused on losing weight.

Why will a focus on weight always backfire?

Because weight, whether lost or gained, is merely a symptom of something else going on in your life.

This symptom of weight gain comes about usually by overeating or yo-yo dieting (also known as weight cycling). What causes the behavior that leads to the symptom of weight gain?

It could be something very emotional, like the loss of a loved one or going through a divorce. It might be an environmental trigger. For example, you might walk by a bakery every day and develop a habit of grabbing a donut.

Whatever is causing the symptom, finding the cause and dealing with it is the way to eliminate the behavior and the symptom. When you focus on just losing weight, all you do is eliminate the symptom. But the cause will continue to trigger the behavior and the weight will simply show up again.

Intuitive eating, when used as intended, will not only address the behavior, but also the cause(s). The weight will resolve itself – that is your body’s job.

Anyone offering intuitive eating/mindful eating as a weight loss strategy or program is doing you a disservice.

Resist the temptation to take the bait. Chances are very good you’ll end up disappointed, and possibly weighing more than when you started. Understand that using intuitive eating to lose weight will give you the same results as any other diet. Instead, try something completely different from dieting. Focus on and find the cause for the behavior leading to your weight gain and/or disordered eating. Once you do, you can address this cause, putting an end to the actual reasons why you’ve gained weight.

And remember, you MAY lose weight while learning to make peace with food and eat intuitively. Many people lose weight after they have made peace as well. But there’s a big difference between this type of weight loss and an “intuitive eating weight loss program.”

If you aren’t at your natural weight (which isn’t the same thing as ideal weight or goal weight), when your body is ready, the weight will be released. The best part of this process? You’ll already be eating intuitively and have peace with food when the weight is released!

This means you’ll be able to maintain your natural weight without dieting, restricting, counting calories or putting forth any focused effort! Doesn’t that sound better than spending every day for the rest of your life counting calories and having to obsess over food? It’s completely possible – I know you can have peace with food, too!

Perfectionism is a Roadblock

Perfectionism Strikes Again!

I’ve been thinking about perfectionism a lot lately. It’s a trait that I’ve let run much of my life. Mainly because I wasn’t aware of what it was doing. Becoming aware of our thoughts, behavior, patterns, and more is an important first step in making peace with food and overcoming emotional overeating. It’s also the first step in overcoming many other obstacles in life, including being a perfectionist.

The reason I’ve been thinking about perfectionism is despite the work I’ve done to release my inner perfectionist, there’s another layer that has recently shown up. I need to uncover what it’s about in order to achieve a couple of goals that currently seem unattainable. But now it’s clear that wanting to achieve these goals “perfectly” is the block, I just need to figure out how to release it – and soon, hopefully!

Back when I was working through my issues with dieting and overeating, and learning intuitive eating, I discovered how much perfectionism kept me from finding peace with food and my body. Wanting to be perfect kept me dieting. Not being perfect led to frustration and overeating. Guilt and shame from overeating and not yet achieving perfection led back to another diet.

Perfectionism got in the way unexpectedly when I was working on awareness with my eating. I had those moments where I just wanted to numb-out with one or two of my favorite binge foods. My goal was to stay aware and make a decision when I would feel one of these urges to overeat. I was tired of sleeping off binge eating sessions, wasting hours at a time.

There were three choices. I could choose to eat (this must be an option, otherwise you’ll stay stuck in the diet-binge cycle). I could choose to identify the emotion (if I knew it was an emotion causing the urge). The third choice was to find something to divert my focus from the overwhelming urge to eat. I wanted to practice this diversion, or distraction, option because it was often easier to do and took less time than dealing with my emotions in that moment (and I could come back to my feelings when I had more time).

The concept of distraction was new to me. In my mind, I had two choices – the first to overeat. Taking the time to identify and process my emotions (a.k.a. feeling your feelings) was the other option I knew about. This one was scary since it was easy enough to overeat, but it felt difficult and time consuming to deal with emotions. However, if I chose to feel my feelings, according to Diet Mentality, I was GOOD and I was making a GOOD choice. The distraction option actually felt like I was “cheating”, because I was doing something other than being GOOD.

Looking back, it’s very clear this was simply another version of my old standby, perfectionism. It said I needed to make the perfect choice, which was the GOOD choice – to feel my feeling. The truth, however, was simply that I had three equally valid options: to eat, to distract or to feel my feelings. In reality, none of these choices made me a better or worse person. It makes sense now, but at the time I couldn’t understand why I kept overeating and never choosing to feel my emotions. Clearly I was stuck in perfectionism and deeply attached to the Diet Mentality. The guilt and shame and relentless noise in my head would never allow the easier, and valid option of distraction.

Perfectionism is actually a part of the Diet Mentality. In Intuitive Eating, we learn that the Diet Mentality is made up of three main components: failure, willpower, and all-or-nothing thinking (a.k.a. black and white thinking). The need to be perfect fits into all-or-nothing thinking. A food is either good or bad. You are either on a diet or binging. Something is either right or wrong. There is no room for the middle of the road, or any grey areas. You are either perfect, or a complete screw-up.

This thinking is so common, you can find it everywhere, not just diets or “eating plans”. And everywhere it exists, it causes problems. In my case, it would not allow me to try distraction, which is a very effective and valid option to help an urge to overeat pass. I eventually learned I could choose distraction, and if the urge came back later on, I could then decide to look at what emotions may be coming up.

Allowing myself to choose distraction (and reject perfectionism) also made the times I chose to overeat not as intense as they were in the past. Because all three options were now equal, I didn’t have that “little voice” telling me to eat as much as possible since this would be the last time I ever ate _________ (fill in the blank).

The next time you have that urge to overeat hit you, consider distraction. Call a friend, turn on some awesome music, go play with the dog, find something enjoyable to do for whatever length of time you need (it’s often not nearly as long as you think). Keep an eye out for perfectionism if you’re feeling stuck – you’ll be surprised how much easier life can be once you’ve moved past it. Just keep an eye out for it – it does have a funny way of showing up when you don’t expect it!

Need help moving past perfectionism? Want to figure out if it is causing your inability to overcome overeating, and even losing weight? Let’s talk about it and get rid of perfection so you can move forward! I invite you to schedule a time to talk about this…just go to www.TalkWithGillian.com to fill out a quick form and pick a date and time on my calendar.

When we get on the phone, we’ll talk about what’s going on and look for the reasons why the perfectionism is hanging on. I really look forward to speaking with you – I’d love to help you find the freedom that I and countless others have found by giving up the need to be perfect and being able to make peace with food and your body!

good and bad buttons

Do You Really Want ‘Control’ Over Food and/or Your Body?

”Instead of either being in control while dieting or out of control when not dieting, try choosing. Make a choice, a decision.”

If you’ve ever been on a diet, you know there aren’t many choices. While dieting, you eat what the rules tell you to eat, no thinking required, no decisions to be made.

When you go off (or fall off) a diet, it’s very chaotic. You may overeat as a result of the deprivation you experienced while on the diet. Whether it’s simply overeating, or actual binging, this feels like you’re out of control, right?

New clients often tell me that they just want to “get back in control” of their eating. I have to question this, do they really want control? What does it feel like to be in control?

When you really think about it, being in control is when you are following that diet to the letter. It’s rigid constraint and conformity. You’re also white-knuckling it, trying to keep that grip on yourself so you don’t “cheat,” when both your mind and body are fighting you every step of the way.

When you’re dieting, you’re working against your mind and body, and they fight back because it’s not an optimal state of being – eating less food than your body needs and living in a constant state of fight-or-flight because your body interprets low food intake as a threat to your survival.

Do you really want to be in control, if this is what it takes?

On the other end of the spectrum, hardly anyone enjoys the physical and mental consequences of overeating and being out of control. You feel guilt and shame, and you tell yourself you need more “willpower.”

You believe there’s something wrong with you because you can’t stick to a diet, you’re so out of control!

Experiencing guilt and shame after overeating and thinking you need more willpower are part of the ”diet mentality.” These thoughts and beliefs have no place in a peaceful relationship with food.

Another piece of the diet mentality is “black and white thinking.” The idea that you’re either in control by dieting, or out of control when not dieting, is an example. It’s either this or that, there are no other options in between – no gray areas!

I hope neither being in or out of control are very appealing to you at this point, after showing you what they are really both about, and what they do. Let’s move into the gray zone, which is all about choice, or making decisions.

In the gray zone, all foods are allowed. There are no restrictions, and no “good” or “bad” foods. When you choose what you want to eat, you may decide on something that’s really yummy or that you’ve been craving. But you may just as easily choose something that your body is asking for or a specific food or type of food that supports your health and tastes good at the same time.

Intuitive eaters make decisions about what they want to eat. They have their favorite foods, but they also know how foods with a higher nutrient density feel really good to their bodies and provide the energy to do what they want and need to do each day. Whatever they decide to eat, they never spend time feeling guilty or planning a way to “make up for it.”

You may worry that allowing yourself to choose what to eat will lead you to eat chocolate cake all day, or whatever your favorite treat happens to be. At first, this may be the case. But it won’t be more than a few days (if that long) until you’re tired of the cake and you choose something that better supports your mind, body and energy!

I assure you, the more you make decisions based on what you and your body want, the more you will gravitate towards foods that provide satisfaction, make you feel great and provide consistent energy. This is part of the peace process with food – it begins by rejecting diets and outside rules, so you can make your own decisions about what you really want, each time you eat.

Coaching Question: Does the idea of making your own decisions about what to eat concern you? Do you believe you can’t trust yourself or you won’t be able to stop eating a favorite food once you start?

Imagine for a minute that you can trust yourself. You can stop when you’ve had enough. Visualize this and then ask, “Who do I need to be, what do I need to believe, or what needs to happen so I can trust myself, feel when I’m satisfied and stop eating at that point?”

Just ask the questions and let your mind come up with an answer. It may not be immediate, but it will come to you. When it does, take action on the answer and take your next step towards peace with food!