Confession time: years ago when I first started “intuitive eating,” I did it with a deep down intention to lose weight. I initially tried to use intuitive eating as a diet. But, like a super “natural” diet, that would finally allow me to lose the weight in a relaxed, FREE way… ya know what I mean? 😉
So, let me just say that if you’re coming to intuitive eating with the intention of using it as a weight loss plan, please know that you’re not alone. I WAS THERE! I DID THAT! In fact, I believe that if the majority of people were being honest they would also say that (at least a small) part of them also hoped for the same when they started intuitive/mindful eating.
What I quickly found out was that so long as weight loss was my ultimate goal (&, like I said, it was when I first started “intuitive eating”) that I couldn’t actually eat intuitively. Also, intuitive eating as a diet worked as well as all the other diets I had tried (aka not at all). That’s right – intuitive eating is a shitty diet.
When weight loss was my goal I didn’t actually have the ability or freedom to connect with my intuition. Instead of coming from a mindful place of what I truly needed, I made every single decision & judged every single choice against this one question: “will [fill in the blank] help me lose weight?”
& I WANTED TO LOSE WEIGHT.
So, naturally, I felt guilty if I believed the answer was “no, Simi, this [fill in the blank] will not help you lose weight” & I still did the [fill in the blank]. I felt like a huuuge failure. I was filled with fear that I would never look the way I wanted to look or “feel the way I wanted to feel” (which I thought I could only feel when I reached a certain number on the scale). The guilt + failure + fear were f’ing uncomfortable & I didn’t know how to process those feelings so I would turn to food for an escape, distraction, & comfort. I would eat anything that could take me out of my body & out of the tough moment, even if just for a moment… & I would eat a lot of it (I guess I hoped that the more I ate, the more it would help me feel emotionally better?). I also treated the principles of intuitive eating as rules that had to be followed perfectly (in order to lose weight, of course) & when I didn’t follow them perfectly the exact same guilt + failure + fear –> binge happened.
I did not lose weight. I did not feel free. I thought “intuitive eating does not work — F you, intuitive eating.”
Ah, that feels so good to say out loud.
I see so many women coming to intuitive eating but holding onto weight loss as the goal. I then see them beating themselves up when the above cycle happens (guilt + failure + fear –> binge) & thinking that it happened because they need to be better.
But this just isn’t true. You don’t need to be “better” at intuitive eating to make it work as a diet. Intuitive eating only “works” once you can quiet that weight loss noise so you can hear your intuition.
What I have discovered it that the way you make this shift actually happen is by connecting with your already enough-ness.
Marianne Williamson so wisely said that everything we do is either an act of love or a cry for love.
Why do we care SO much about losing weight? Because, on some level, we believe a thinner body will make us accepted, loved, & ultimately ENOUGH (by others, by society, & by ourselves).
Basically… we just want to be loved!!!
It’s a lot of pressure to make our relationship with food responsible for our value, right? The wildest part is that it isn’t about the food at all.
So, if you’re using intuitive eating as your newest weight loss plan & feeling frustrated that you’re falling into the same old diet patterns, I want to encourage you to shift your focus from the food.
Instead, try asking yourself, if there was nothing about me that needed fixed today:
- How would I take care of myself?
- What would I allow myself to need?
- How would I talk to myself?
- What would bring me some joy?
Listen for the whisper — this was where the magic of eating intuitively starts.
this resonates so deeply… wish i could hop on board without my goals so tightly held…
Simonida Botic says
<3 <3 <3
Jenny K. says
This is what I struggle with: I’ve talked to my GYNO and I need to lose a significant amount of weight in order to increase my chances of having a healthy pregnancy in the upcoming years. How do I forget about losing weight when I need to for a healthier pregnancy? I know this isn’t an easy answer but it’s something I’ve been thinking about recently.
Simonida Botic says
Hi Jenny! Thanks so much for your comment. I found so much freedom when I shifted my focus from weight loss to taking great care of myself. I believe we can achieve our healthy balance without focusing on weight loss — in many cases even more physical, emotional, & mental health because a focus on weight loss can lead to binge eating, unhealthy restriction, anxiety, etc. Have you read the amazing book Health At Every Size? I would definitely recommend it!