Tag Archives for " intuitive eating "


10 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays

1. Eat the foods you love!

Instead of filling up on low-calorie, cardboard-like food to help you “avoid temptation,” make your favorite foods a priority. Eat them first – even if they are cake and cookies! When you give yourself permission to eat any foods that you enjoy, it’s much easier (and natural) to stop when you’ve had enough. If you avoid these foods, eventually deprivation will drive you to eat them – usually in an overeating or binge episode – so you don’t even allow yourself to enjoy them. Feelings of shame follow and you beat yourself up for “blowing it” once again. But this isn’t about blowing it or being weak, if you eat what you really want, you can enjoy it and move on, feeling satisfied. Go for your favorites first, and…

2. Truly SAVOR those favorite foods you’re eating.

When you first allow yourself to eat your favorite foods, you may feel an urge to eat them quickly, to shove them in before anyone sees you or before you actually notice! This isn’t unusual, especially if you’ve been avoiding these foods like the plague. However, similar to avoiding your favorite foods, eating them quickly will also backfire. You can’t enjoy food you eat quickly and feel guilty about eating. If you truly love a food, eat it with love – be mindful and notice the taste, texture, subtle flavors and all the wonderful attributes you can’t discover when eating mindlessly.

3. If it isn’t delicious, don’t eat it.

You may begin to eat a favorite food and find that it doesn’t taste as good as you imagined, or remember. This can happen on occasion when you allow yourself to eat a food that you usually restrict when on a diet. This could also occur when you try a different brand than you’re used to, or even a different recipe. No matter the reason, if it isn’t as good as you imagined, throw it out. Starving children on the other side of the world will still be starving, whether you throw it out or eat the entire thing. But YOU will feel the difference, and you’ll likely feel deprived if you eat it, leaving less room for something else that might taste really good. Just get rid of it, let go of any guilt, and try another food that looks really yummy!

4. Say “NO” and stay firm.

You probably know who the food pushers are among your family and friends. I used to give in and eat more, to avoid hurt feelings. But I didn’t feel good overeating, and I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the gathering. It finally occurred to me that food pushers don’t care about MY feelings! If I said, “no, thank you” or “I’m full,” the pushing didn’t stop. I now set an intention to honor my body and my boundaries. If you’re full, or you just don’t want more, say ‘no’, with the expectation of having your boundaries respected. Say it politely, but confidently. If all else fails, ask if you can take some home for later or ask for the recipe. It’s your body and you decide what and how much you put in it.

5. Don’t allow others to comment on or question your body or what you eat.

I don’t understand why some people think it’s appropriate to say anything about someone’s body. This includes comments about how “thin” someone is or how much weight they’ve lost – this can be triggering for many people. Think about it – someone says, “You look great, you’ve lost weight!” How did he/she think you looked before you lost the weight? And why is it anyone’s business? There’s truly no good reason for any comments – even if it’s done out of a concern for “your health.” You cannot determine how healthy someone is by the size of her body – period. If you receive comments, feel free to speak up and say it’s not ok, or walk away if necessary. Our culture is so weight-focused, many people don’t know comments can be damaging – if it were pointed out, I’m sure many would stop.

6. Don’t engage in or put up with diet and/or body talk.

Along the same lines as comments about your body and/or eating, you don’t have to put up with diet and body talk. This time of year many people plan their diet and exercise resolutions, while eating all they can before January 2nd. As you stop dieting and make peace with food, all this discussion will likely annoy you! Don’t we have anything better to discuss? The best solution is to attempt to change the topic, or simply find a more interesting discussion with other people. If it’s really prevalent in your family or circle of friends, you can suggest ahead of time that you have a day free of diet and body talk. You may be surprised how many will actually love this idea!

7. Engage in extra self-­care.

Self-care is important anytime of the year. But this is the time we push even more, stress over time and money, and expect way too much from ourselves. It’s easy to put self-care on the back burner to make that one last shopping trip or attend one more holiday event. Instead of cutting it out completely, try shorter bouts of self-care, but keep up the frequency. Focus on self-care you want to do, let go of the “shoulds.” If you’re an introvert, make sure you have extra decompression time for yourself. If you need help with all the things you have to do, ASK! Get your needs met – it’s the only way to meet the needs of everyone else and keep up with the demands of this time of year.

8. Focus on happiness!

Research shows that humans are happiest when they stay in the present (instead of the past or the future), when they have experiences (instead of collecting material “stuff”) and when they actually demonstrate compassion towards others and engage in helping others, (instead of dwelling on self too much). The holiday season certainly offers many opportunities for reaching out and helping other people. Whether it’s volunteering at a food bank, or visiting a lonely neighbor, you don’t always have to invest hours and hours of your time to help others and benefit yourself as well.

9. Connect on a spiritual level.

Regardless of your personal beliefs, religion, or faith, connecting to something bigger than yourself provides a sense of peace and a feeling that there’s a bigger purpose to our lives. Simply taking a few minutes to meditate or just be present can be enough for some. For others, it means attending services or special events. Whatever spirituality means to you, having this deeper connection with something bigger than yourself can keep you grounded and provide that sense of inner peace so many of us are seeking all year long, and especially during the holidays. This is extremely important for anyone working on overcoming the use of unwanted coping mechanisms, like emotional overeating.

10. Have FUN!

If you don’t have fun in your life, make some! Over the years of working with so many women who want to stop overeating and/or binging, I’ve discovered that a crucial missing ingredient in their lives is FUN! The only “fun” they have, according to them, is eating. Ironically, it really isn’t fun, because it’s causing a lot of emotional pain. So even the fun isn’t fun. If you can’t think of anything fun, think back to your childhood – what did you enjoy doing as a kid? Is there something you’d like to learn, take a class perhaps? (Please do not consider any kind of weight loss or nutrition classes!) During the holidays is a great time to revisit some of your favorite places or holiday traditions you had as a child.

3 woman surrounded by junk food

The 8 Major Obstacles to Overcoming Overeating

Several years ago I was trying to answer the question, “How do I do what I do?” It’s not easy to explain the making peace with food process (especially to those entrenched in the diet mentality), and it’s even more of a challenge to explain coaching in general.

There are several areas that I work with my clients on. And our work focuses on solving issues in these areas. These issues are in fact, obstacles that block people from making peace with food. So while this process is very different for each person, as is coaching, obstacles seemed to be a good way to describe the process and make it relatable to those struggling with food and body issues.

Here are the 8 major obstacles to overcoming overeating and making peace with food:

1. Lack of Foundation (Knowing Your ‘Why’): If you don’t know the real reason you want to achieve something, you will lose your motivation quickly. Building a foundation requires knowing your personal values and what you really want at a much deeper level than just, “I want to lose weight,” which only gets in the way and keeps you from making peace with food.

2. Diet Mentality: This is a huge obstacle. From a very young age, most of us have been taught how we should look and what we should and shouldn’t eat. At the same time, we are also taught that food is love, food will make us feel better, and we are a very food-centric society, with every celebration centered around the food. These conflicting rules and ingrained habits are what lead us to dieting, followed by overeating, followed by guilt, taking us back to dieting.

3. Learning and Applying the Basics of Mindful/Intuitive Eating: Many people start the process of intuitive eating only to find they have turned it into a diet full of rules and restrictions. It takes time to learn these principles and really apply them. Most of us, including myself, went back and forth between intuitive eating and dieting before it finally clicked and felt right. (But it’s worth it for a lifetime of peace with food!)

4. Negative Self-Talk: I think it’s safe to say that this is one issue that almost everyone wants or needs to overcome. The first step is being aware of it. Some people have those negative tapes playing all day long and they don’t even hear them, but the subconscious does. After being aware of it, the next step is to learn how to handle the talk. It’s my experience that ignoring the “voices” or telling them to go away won’t do it. Those voices are a part of you, so rejecting them, yelling at them to go away, or other similar strategies don’t work very well. Neither do affirmations where you say things to yourself that you don’t even believe. There are better ways of dealing with the voices and changing the self-talk to take a more positive tone.

5. Avoiding or Reacting to Difficult Emotions: Classic “emotional eating” is basically eating in response to strong feelings that you do not want to feel (conscious or otherwise). By “pushing the feelings down,” you get to temporarily avoid those feelings or the situations that are causing the feelings. Food can be used as a numbing agent, and when you overeat to the point of feeling sick or guilty, you can now focus on beating yourself up and planning your next diet, instead of dealing with what is really going on. The problem is if you don’t eventually allow yourself to feel your feelings and process them, they will always come back, often stronger than when they initially showed up.

6. Not Getting Your Needs Met: When you don’t feel your feelings, you are not going to be aware of what you are actually feeling (sad, angry, lonely, bored, etc). Therefore, you can’t identify what you might actually need (talking to someone, taking a walk, asking for help, etc.). In turn, when your needs are not met (and again, you may not even be aware of this), it is very easy to subconsciously turn to food because it temporarily fills the emptiness and creates a distraction. This is a vicious cycle that cannot be escaped without discovering your feelings, determining your needs, and getting them met.

7. Lack of Self-Compassion: Self-Compassion is an extremely important skill to learn. If we can’t be compassionate towards ourselves when we make mistakes or in times of difficulty, we end up in a place of judgment, “shoulding” on ourselves, and engaging in all kinds of negative self-talk. Using self-compassion allows for honoring our feelings, soothing ourselves, acknowledging we aren’t alone in these experiences and it brings us back to the moment and being mindful. This is a much better place than the past and regrets, or the future that we often put our lives on hold for, waiting for everything to be perfect. Research on happiness shows humans are happier when they stay in the present, regardless of their circumstances or emotions at the time.

8. Lack of Self-Care: Self-care is much more than lighting candles and soaking in the bathtub. It’s about taking care of your needs in several areas, including physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health and wellness. It’s about creating a “balance” in your life – but balance doesn’t necessarily mean splitting your time and attention evenly among all four areas. It is about dividing your time and attention in a way that meets your true needs and desires and fits into your values (as determined when working on obstacle #1).

So there you have it – 8 major obstacles to overcome to stop overeating and make peace with food. You may already have some handled, and others may need more focus. This is normal. Take it at your own pace, learn along the way from your setbacks, and get ready to see not only your relationship with food improve, but other areas of your life as well!

2 3 food groups

The Three Food Groups

If you are familiar with mindful, or intuitive eating, you know one of the main principles is to eat what you really want. This means allowing all those foods back in that you avoided or couldn’t have because of the rules of whatever diet (or “lifestyle plan”) you were on. This can be scary for many who think they can’t control themselves around certain foods or they are afraid that complete permission equals weight gain. While it may be hard to believe, full permission really does cause you to want and eat less of those foods (it may take a while, but it’s true!)

The most common question I’m asked about full permission to eat whatever you want is: “What if I have a medical condition and my doctor has told me I can’t eat [fill in the blank] food?” I understand the confusion, it’s like mixed messages, eat whatever you want but don’t eat this or that based on the doctor’s advice.

For this reason, and many others (like food allergies or sensitivities) I like to share the concept of the Three Food Groups. Don’t worry, this isn’t anything like what you learned in school (that was sponsored by the meat and dairy industries, by the way). And it’s not the boring food pyramid (or My Plate) that the government is always pushing.

The Three Food Groups include 1) Foods you really like, 2) Foods you don’t like, and, 3) Foods that don’t “honor” you or your body. Surprised? Keep in mind that eating intuitively means you are relying on cues from your body and your own decisions to determine when and what to eat instead of following some other person’s idea of how you should eat.

Group #1: Foods You Like (even love!)

Satisfaction from eating is extremely important. If you are hungry and wanting something like pasta, or a turkey sandwich, but opt for rice cakes because they are lower in calories, you’re not going to be satisfied. You may spend the day looking around for other things to eat and end up eating more than if you just ate what you really wanted. It’s important to get satisfaction or pleasure from food because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have much drive to eat, leading to a serious lack of energy and an inability to carry out everyday tasks.

The foods in this group are anything you really like or love. Yes, that includes chocolate, ice cream, or whatever else you tend to deny yourself when dieting. And most importantly, do not consider how “bad” or “forbidden” diet culture tells you those foods are. I assure you, by working on intuitive eating principles and taking care of yourself, you won’t be eating those previously scary foods day in and day out. You’ll really savor them when you eat and enjoy lots of other satisfying food from this food group.

Group #2: Foods You Don’t Like

When I was growing up, it was a rule that I had to try any food that was put in front of me. Unfortunately, some foods I couldn’t stand I still had to continue eating. Needless to say, this created an aversion to trying new things (I’m getting better) and an intense dislike for certain foods like mayonnaise, hard-boiled eggs, and beets, among other foods. I’m sure you have at least a couple of foods you really don’t like. If you are still choking them down because you’ve been told they are “superfoods” or prevent this or that, now is the time to let them go. There is such a variety of food available to us that you can always find foods you like to get the nutrient or benefit you’re looking for.

Group #3: Foods That Don’t Honor You

This is where we answer those questions about health issues, allergies, personal preferences, etc. There are two parts to this group. The first part is made up of any foods that you decide aren’t right for you. This includes anything you’re so allergic to that eating it could kill you. That’s clearly a food that doesn’t honor you or your body.

You may have problems with particular foods that aren’t life-threatening, but eating any amount will make you quite sick or lead to other complications you don’t want to deal with. This might be more challenging because you like this particular food. I like raw onions on tacos but in recent years they cause me intense stomach pain, so I’ve made a decision to not eat them.

Eating this type of food comes down to making a decision about how you want to feel. It’s always your choice, but if you want to avoid not feeling well, reminding yourself of this fact will make it easier to honor yourself and your body by choosing to not eat it.

The other part of this group is made up of foods that may be somewhat problematic, but you can eat a certain amount. For example, a diabetic may be told to avoid eating sugar as well as “white” food like white flour, rice or bread. But for many with diabetes, eating some sugar or other simple carbohydrates doesn’t cause serious consequences. (You need to experiment with this to determine the right amount for you.) But beyond a certain amount, it becomes a problem.

Knowing the amount that works for you is important. You can still choose to go over it because you get to make your own decisions. But if feeling good is important to you, then making a decision to stop is about how you want to feel, not that you “can’t have it.” The way you think about the food will have the biggest influence on your behavior around it.

Let’s say you are lactose intolerant. Do you want to have stomach and intestinal distress just to eat that ice cream? It’s your choice, but honoring yourself and your body is a form of self-care – an essential part of overcoming overeating.

I hear all the time, “I’m allergic to sugar.” There’s no solid research proving this is possible, and in my experience, this person usually has problems when she eats more sugar than honors her body.

I remember the days of grabbing a large bag of candy, hiding from everyone so I could binge on it, and then having to lie down and sleep off how awful I felt. Today, I can have candy, but I have an amount that honors me. Once I’ve had a certain amount, I’m satisfied and I can move on with my day feeling good. The main thing with this food group is to remember that you’re making a conscious decision to not eat something you may like because you want to honor your body and take care of yourself, therefore there’s no need to feel restricted or deprived.

I hope this has given you some “food for thought”! If you are tired of the endless dieting and trying to beat your body into submission, please consider finding freedom for yourself with intuitive eating.

sign that reads Love Your Body

Got Body Esteem? Find out how!

“A waist is a terrible thing to mind.” Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, authors of “Intuitive Eating”

Quick — When you see yourself in a mirror, what’s the first word that pops into your head? Do you think, “Wow! Girl, you’ve got it going ON!” Or, do you think, “Momma’s got too much back!” If it is the latter, you most likely have poor body-esteem, or a “bad body image.”

Body esteem is similar to self-esteem. It describes the way you feel about your body and the effect that it has on your overall well-being. If it is poor, you may live your life always trying to beat your body into submission through exercise, diets, constant criticism, and waiting until you lose weight to start living your life fully.

Here’s a secret you probably don’t know. Acceptance comes before any significant change. Ask any psychologist or therapist and they’ll back up this statement.

You’re probably asking, “How can I accept myself when I am not happy with my body?” This is a common question. But consider this, “How has feeling this way and continuing this war with your body worked so far?” I would guess you would answer, “Not very well.” So why not try something new?

Psychologist Judith Rodin, in her book Body Traps, said, “You don’t need to lose weight first in order to take care of yourself. In fact, the process actually happens quite in the reverse!” This is a fact the diet industry has been keeping from you for a long time!

Here are a few tips I share with my clients that can help you improve your body esteem:

Become an intuitive eater. Stop dieting! Research has shown that only 5 percent of those who diet have any success. This means 95 percent of diets fail, and too often, dieters gain even more weight! When you stop dieting, eat when you are physically hungry and stop when you are full, you release yourself from all the stress, guilt, shame, and restriction that accompany dieting.

When you learn to listen to your body’s signals about being hungry and being full, your body will eventually return to its natural weight– and stay there (note I didn’t say your “ideal weight.” Your body is in charge of your weight and it will settle into whatever your genetics determine your natural weight to be). A recent Ohio State University study found women who appreciated their bodies ate intuitively and actually had a lower body mass index than those who were dissatisfied with their bodies and kept dieting.

Surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are and who accept themselves, too! Stop talking about your weight, your diet plan, and what you are eating.

Wear clothes you love and that fit you right now. There are stores that cater to people of your size, shape, and fashion. If you need to, hire an image consultant to help find clothes that work for you. Get rid of anything in your closet that doesn’t fit comfortably. Feeling miserable leads to thoughts of food and shame, which lead to the refrigerator! You know that your clothes size differs depending on the maker. Don’t let a number tell you how to feel about yourself!

Stop comparing yourself to others. Do you find yourself checking your body as you walk by mirrors or store windows? Checking your appearance can prevent self-acceptance by making you overly critical. Don’t look at those magazines on the check-out stands either! Comparing your body to others usually results in more self-criticism and body hatred.

While you are throwing away old habits, get rid of the bathroom scale as well! If the doctor wants to weigh you, ask that they don’t tell you the number. If you’re addicted to the scale, scale back (couldn’t resist the pun!) Cut back to once a week, or even better, once a month. Remember, the scale does not tell the whole story. Your weight can fluctuate up to seven pounds during any given time during the month.

You know this one — Exercise. Exercise is important for your overall health, for relieving stress and lessening depression. Many forms of exercise can have an effect on the way we feel about our bodies and ourselves. To heighten your body awareness, practice walking meditation, t’ai chi, yoga, or movement therapy.

Don’t link exercise with weight loss. Do it to boost your body esteem. Start exercising now. Studies show that women in larger bodies gain self-pride and a better mental outlook through movement. Walking or biking are both great for an instantaneous change in the way you feel about yourself.

What are you waiting for? Start viewing yourself as a wonderfully made woman. You are uniquely made. Your body knows what its needs are. Listen to what’s inside and the outside will be transformed!

Want to learn more? Check out HealthierOutcomes.com, and sign up for my free newsletter. I look forward to hearing about your success!

control over food

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

“Instead of either being in control over food 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 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 over food.”

I have to question this, do they really want control? What does it feel like to be in control?

Control or Out of Control?

Think about it – being in control is following that diet to the letter. It’s rigid constraint and conformity. You’re trying to keep that grip on yourself so you don’t “cheat.” But your mind and body are fighting you the whole time, keeping you white-knuckling through it.

When you diet, you’re working against your mind and body. They fight back because it’s not an optimal state of being. Restricting food creates a constant state of fight-or-flight because your body is fighting for survival.

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

On the other hand, no one enjoys the physical and mental consequences of being out of control over food. It brings on guilt and shame, and you tell yourself you need more “willpower.”

Experiencing guilt and shame after overeating and thinking you need more willpower are both 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.” You’re either in control by dieting, or out of control and overeating. It’s either this or that, there are no other options in between – no gray areas!

I hope at this point neither being in or out of control are very appealing. Let’s move into the gray zone, which is all about choice, or making decisions.

Choices Live in the Gray Area

In the gray zone, all foods are allowed. There is no restriction, and no “good” or “bad” foods. When you choose what you want to eat, you may decide on something yummy or that you’ve been craving. But you may just as easily choose something that your body is asking for. You may feel a craving for a specific type of food your body is wanting.

Intuitive eaters make decisions about what they want to eat. They have their favorite foods, but they are also aware of how different foods make them feel and they often choose those that physically feel good. 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. At first, this may be the case. But after a few days (if that long) you’ll be tired of the cake and craving something else. Chances are, you’ll choose something that your body is asking for!

The more decisions based on what you and your body want, the more you’ll want foods that provide satisfaction and consistent energy. This is part of making peace with food. As you let go of control and allow for choice, you’ll make satisfying decisions and feel great for it!

1 intuitive eating diet

Are You On the “Intuitive Eating Diet”?


Have you tried applying principles of intuitive eating, only to find your unwanted eating and body issues getting worse? You may have thought, “This just doesn’t work for me,” or, “I knew it was too good to be true!” Before going back to the misery of dieting and diet mentality, allow me to suggest that you may have accidentally found yourself on the “intuitive eating diet.

In my 15+ years of learning about, applying and coaching others on making peace with food and intuitive eating, I’ve witnessed many amazing successes. I’ve seen women who went on diet after diet, always in the gym trying to burn off calories, having no life and believing she didn’t deserve one – until she lost the weight.

And I’ve seen these women absolutely transform when they give up the dieting and endless exercise, make peace with food and their bodies and get on with living their lives right now. When they discover how obsessing over food and weight all day, every day has been holding them back from living, there’s no stopping them! Their thoughts, beliefs, behavior and focus all turn around, allowing them to get on with the lives they are meant to have.

Intuitive Eating Does ‘Work’!

What continues to break my heart and pushes me to keep getting the word out, are those people who begin to work on intuitive eating, but give up in frustration, insisting it doesn’t “work”.

I see blog posts and articles (and posts in intuitive eating forums), from those who haven’t seen “results” declare that intuitive eating caused them to eat more “junk food” or gain weight. Without understanding what the actual problem is, they warn anyone listening that intuitive eating simply doesn’t work.

I know it’s difficult to gain weight or to find yourself compulsively eating foods you were trying to make peace with. But what I know from my years of practicing and coaching intuitive eating is that it’s not a problem with the process of becoming an intuitive eater. It’s actually a misinterpretation of what intuitive eating actually is.

Instead of embracing intuitive eating, these people are on what I call the “intuitive eating diet.”

It’s Actually a ‘Practice’

Sure, I know intuitive eating is not a diet. I go to great lengths to help my clients understand it’s not even a program. It’s not a plan, a system, a project or a method. It’s not something that has a beginning or an end. It is a journey, a continuous experience that brings challenges and triumphs along the way. You have setbacks, but they turn out to be learning experiences that help you move further along your journey.

My favorite way to describe intuitive eating is by using the word “practice.” In a practice, you have days that bring obstacles and other days that flow quite easily. The biggest difference between a practice and a “program” or a “system” is in a practice, you expect to have setbacks and you welcome them as much as the triumphs because the learning from setbacks is powerful and motivating.

Would you beat yourself up in your yoga “practice” if, after learning about headstands, you couldn’t do one perfectly? Hopefully not. Even if you did, I bet it didn’t send you into days of guilt, shame and negative self-talk.

How Do You Define ‘Success’?

You may be wondering how, exactly, intuitive eating, the most popular term used for the process of rejecting diets and learning to make peace with food and your body, becomes an actual “diet”. There are several ways, all stemming from the disordered thinking that comes from the diet culture we all live in.

First is how ‘success’ is defined related to the practice of intuitive eating. What outcomes are you looking for? Right from the beginning, it must be clear that while weight loss may or may not happen, it is not an outcome we have control over. If weight loss is your one and only objective, intuitive eating isn’t your approach.

I’m NOT saying that another approach will help you achieve weight loss. There are no diets, programs, approaches, systems, etc., that have been proven effective beyond two years. In other words, no matter the diet (meaning “intentionally trying to reduce your body’s weight”), for 97% of all dieters, the weight loss is not maintained any longer than two years.

I typically work with people who are sick and tired of all things diet. They’re disillusioned with the weight loss-weight gain cycle and diet-binge cycle that disrupts all aspects of their lives – relationships, career, social, happiness, purpose or satisfaction to mention a few.

With intuitive eating, instead of trying to control your body (which doesn’t work), you make peace with food and body. This is what changes your life for the better… whether or not you lose weight. And changing your life is the real “success.” You may think you want weight loss, but think about it… you really want a better life.

Seeing in Black & White

Black and white-thinking (a big factor in diet mentality), turns the best attempts at overcoming overeating and embracing intuitive eating on their head. Also known as all-or-nothing-thinking, it allows for only two choices, black or white. All or nothing. Good or bad. Right or wrong. Restrictive, rigid rules-based dieting or all-out, eat until you need to sleep it off overeating or binging.

Intuitive eating suggests eating when physically hungry and stopping when satisfied or comfortably full. This doesn’t mean you MUST do this 100% of the time. However, this is what black-and-white-thinkers hear: “Eat ONLY when you’re hungry, and stop ALWAYS when you are satisfied/full.”

It instantly becomes a diet because of the strict rules about starting and stopping eating. There’s no room for the “gray areas” between the black and white. In that gray area, you have choices and can decide to step outside the boundaries of hunger and satisfaction.

This is closely related to perfectionism – the toxic best friend of dieters. Dieters strive for perfection – with food, appearance, body weight, clothing size and most other areas of their lives. Their role models in the air-brushed magazine images look perfect. Diet commercials say (indirectly but not so subtly) that your life will be perfect when you lose the weight.

Many of us grew up in households that placed a high value on achievement and perfectionism. Trying to be perfect is an unrealistic way of life and downright deadly when it manifests into a full-blown eating disorder, as it does in many young girls (and men and women of all ages in recent years).

Failure vs. Learning Opportunity

Another way intuitive eating is turned into a diet is in how one looks at setbacks or mistakes. No matter the situation, mistakes are often labeled as “failure.” Intuitive eating is a process in which you are relearning how to eat based on your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues. It took years to unlearn these connections with our body that we were born with. So why do we expect to learn them overnight?

Think about it – humans learn best through so-called “mistakes.” When you see a mistake as a failure, all the negative self-talk is going to discourage you from trying again. If you take it as a learning opportunity, you can be compassionate with yourself and discover what you’ve learned that you can apply next time.

Often I will reframe trying out a new behavior as an “experiment.” Consider yourself a scientist and go into the experiment with curiosity. Be open to whatever will happen, knowing you’ll learn something from it and get closer to your goal with each experiment, no matter the outcome. This will save you time because you won’t be beating yourself up all the time and you may reach your intended goal or desire that much faster!

Keep in mind that any perceived “failure” related to intuitive eating is simply old diet mentality thinking. We learned to blame ourselves for the smallest diet infraction because the diet industry told us it was our fault. This is the biggest lie of all… they know the failure lies in their product. They count on it so you keep coming back!

Increased overeating or binging and even weight gain can happen in the process of making peace with food and your body. It doesn’t happen for everyone and this phase doesn’t last forever. This often happens during an early phase when you are giving yourself full permission to eat food you’ve restricted. It’s a natural response to the restriction imposed on your body.

I’ve seen too many people that stop at this point and declare intuitive eating doesn’t work. I get it, they are afraid. There’s a lot of trust needed in this process, especially trust that your body knows what it is doing. But remember, your body is smart and it knows what it needs. With time your body will settle into its natural weight and you’ll return to the intuitive eating you had at birth.

Break Free of the ‘Intuitive Eating Diet’

Let’s take a look at what you can do to prevent self-sabotage or letting diet mentality take over and keep you from making peace with food and your body.

First, redefine what success looks like for you. What do you want in your life that problematic eating or body image issues are keeping you from having? How is diet mentality, fear of weight gain and food obsession keeping you from feeling on a daily basis? How do you want to feel – about yourself, your life, your future?

Remember that intuitive eating is a practice – not a program or something you do and then stop. It gets better each day the more you commit to it and yourself. Learn about and use self-compassion as often as you would use compassion with a child or a good friend.

Keep the intuitive eating diet far away by seeing the world in shades of gray, rather than black and white. Food isn’t divided into good or bad, and you aren’t good or bad because you ate something. Yes, there are some foods that provide more nutrition than others. But the stress of trying to eat “clean” can make you sicker than any one thing you happen to eat.

Finally, remember that personal growth comes from learning. Learning often comes from making mistakes or having setbacks. Try having gratitude for them because setbacks almost always have a silver lining. You can learn and grow when you embrace challenges or so-called “failures.”

All this learning has another benefit. Often big challenges that we overcome allow us to take all that learning and reach out to help others. Every day more people are breaking free from dieting and diet mentality. Some have been inspired to help others do the same, remembering how impossible it seemed on the other side.

Having recovered, we have that absolute confidence and certainty that you can recover as well. Everything you want in life is on the other side of your comfort zone! I encourage you to reach out to someone that has faced your challenges and made it to the other side. They’ll make it easier and remind you that what you’re going through is normal and temporary!

I would love to talk with you if you’d like to explore working together to help you recover. Just go to www.TalkWithGillian.com and complete the form. I’ll get back to you right away!