Does Eating Intuitively Help You Lose Weight?
I constantly have clients ask me: ‘Is eating intuitively a weight loss programme?’ or ‘Can I eat intuitively to lose weight?’
It’s not surprising that people come to me with these questions considering how diet culture and the media have made it seem like life simply cannot start until you lose weight.
But eating intuitively is not about weight loss. In fact, it’s the very opposite of a diet.
But that doesn’t mean weight loss isn’t possible by eating intuitively.
Many people do lose weight by eating intuitively – but many find they simply maintain a more sustainable weight for their bodies, and others end up gaining weight through intuitive eating, everyone is different.
But don’t worry, this shouldn’t be cause for alarm. Whether you experience weight loss or weight gain, the weight you’re at once you find food freedom is a HEALTHY weight for YOU.
And, by the time you’ve mastered eating intuitively and found food & body freedom, you probably won’t even care about the number on the scale.
It’s okay if you’re not quite there yet.
If you’re looking into eating intuitively and hope to experience weight loss, then you probably aren’t completely happy with the skin you’re in.
But that’s the beauty of food & body freedom and starting to eat intuitively. It’s a journey that is so much more than just healing your relationship with food. It’s a complete mindset shift that can help you love yourself, heal past traumas and make you healthier inside and out.
If that sounds good to you, keep on reading. I’m going to discuss how to eat intuitively, how eating intuitively works, the goal of eating intuitively eating and what the first six months of your food & body freedom journey could look like.
What is eating intuitively?
You don’t need a diet to fix you – you aren’t broken. You have just forgotten how to listen to your body’s wants and needs thanks to the outside noise in the diet industry.
Eating intuitively teaches you how to tune back into your internal cues of hunger, satisfaction and fullness and form a better relationship with yourself and with food.
Eating intuitively helps you to let go of guilt, stress and anxiety associated with food, form a more positive self-image and heal from past traumas that trigger emotional eating.
What is emotional eating? It’s when you make food your therapist and best friend. When you turn to food for comfort, or even for boredom.
Everyone emotionally eats sometimes which is normal but when it becomes your only coping mechanism it can be a much larger issue. Frequent emotional eating can turn into binge eating or disordered eating.
Luckily, eating intuitively is a way that many people turn to free themselves from harmful patterns of disordered eating, quit dieting once and for all and gain complete control not only of what they are eating but their whole LIFE.
In addition, some people find that once they stop worrying about what they eat and restricting calories to lose weight, they actually experience weight loss through eating intuitively.
What causes weight loss?
If you have a history of chronic dieting, there is a good chance that you also have suffered from some weight gain. That’s because restriction and dieting have actually been linked to weight gain and disordered eating.
If you have been emotionally eating and binge eating you are not in touch with your body or connecting with your body’s internal cues. But when you get off that restricting and bingeing train through eating more intuitively, something beautiful happens.
You reach your body’s natural set point weight.
Your set point weight is the weight where your body functions at its best and you feel your best both mentally and physically. It’s the weight your body is MEANT to be.
It’s entirely possible (even probable) that you have been above and below your set point weight during periods of extreme food restriction and periods of bingeing.
If you are over your body’s set weight point at the beginning of your food & body freedom journey, then you might experience weight loss.
But if you are under your body’s natural set point, then you might experience weight gain when your body is finding your natural weight for you.
There is no way of knowing your set weight point until you learn how to eat intuitively and feel what is best for you and your body, so there really isn’t a way to predict if you will experience weight loss.
What you CAN predict, is that you will be the weight you are meant to be when you achieve food & body freedom.
Should weight loss be your goal?
I’m not going to sugarcoat this. The answer is no.
If you want to find food & body freedom, weight loss should not be your goal. That’s because the very first food freedom principle is to give yourself permission to eat ALL foods which means saying goodbye to the diet culture.
If you are trying to eat intuitively but doing it with the hope of weight loss – then you aren’t really eating intuitively.
The longer you are hung up on dieting and losing weight, the longer it will take you to find food & body freedom.
But just because I’m telling you this doesn’t mean you will magically not care about weight loss anymore.
The desire to lose weight is deeply ingrained in us because of the pressure from the media and diet culture. And I am talking about years and years of pressure. Our society glories thinness and even goes so far as to equate it with success and worth.
That’s because we live in a fatphobic society.
What is fatphobia? It’s the fear of becoming fat, or even being associated with fat people – and it’s out of control. It’s deep-rooted too, it can even show up in the way your doctor treats you too.
In fact, many healthcare professionals will still tell you you need to lose weight, even if you went to the doctor for a completely different reason. But weight isn’t what makes you unhealthy. This is a very old-school way of thinking.
If you implement health-promoting behaviours into your life, your health will improve – regardless of your weight.
So there SHOULDN’T be fear around fat. We ALL have fat. We NEED fat to survive.
So often when people come to me looking for food freedom & weight loss, they aren’t REALLY looking to lose weight. They are hoping to find approval, confidence, acceptance, self-love, or success.
And do you know what? None of those things has anything to do with weight. You can have them all NOW. Denying yourself any of those things because of your size is harming you and no one else.
Food Freedom and learning to eat intuitively are one of the best ways to change your mindset and start achieving all those wonderful things for yourself. But it’s NOT about weight loss.
So, if weight loss shouldn’t be your goal – then what SHOULD it be?
Let’s take a look at what the beginning of a food freedom journey looks like month to month.
What to expect in your first 6 months of eating intuitively
Food & body freedom is a journey, and you can’t expect to see results overnight. Whether you experience weight loss, weight gain or weight maintenance, the physical and emotional changes from eating intuitively take time.
Here is a basic idea of what you can expect when you start your own path to food freedom.
In the beginning
Before you have found food freedom, you will most likely be struggling to come to terms with your body.
It will probably be hard for you to love your body, and some days you might even downright hate it. You most likely will still be fixated on weight loss.
It’s okay. Be gentle with yourself. This will be a long process to transform the way you view yourself and the way you describe your body, but the love will come with time.
In the beginning, you might lapse into bingeing and emotional eating. You might not understand your internal cues, and you might dive face-first into all the foods you’ve been avoiding because you told yourself they were ‘bad.’
This is normal!
Most things worth learning don’t come easily at first – but there is no such thing as failure when we are eating intuitively. There are no rules! You have no one to disappoint, and there is absolutely no pressure on you.
Just do your best gently day by day.
1-2 months into food freedom
After a couple of months of eating intuitively, you will see your self-talk shifting, and may even have days when you love your body.
You will also start to understand what foods make your body feel better and know it is absolutely acceptable to eat chocolate as and when you want to, although your body might not feel its best if you just eat chocolate ALL day – at this point, you will start making intuitive choices and want to reach out for foods that make you feel better instead.
It won’t always be a linear path. You will be working through past traumas and triggers that cause you to emotionally eat – but over time your triggers will be fewer and fewer.
Take note of your wins. Did you recognise when you were full last night? Did you stop eating and leave food on your plate? It’s important to examine how far you’ve come since Day 1.
3-4 months into food freedom
Around month 3 or 4 you will start to feel like your new healthy behaviours with food are a little more ‘normal’. You will have a better understanding of your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and you will have found some type of movement that makes you feel more energised and happy in the skin you’re in.
With all this new-found energy and confidence, you’ll start thinking about weight loss less and less.
You will still have days where you want to binge or aren’t happy with your body, but those days will become fewer and fewer.
6 months into food freedom
By month 6, you will see a great improvement in your overall health and wellness. You will feel better mentally, physically and emotionally.
You will treat your body with respect and love and stop feeling the need to change it – because it’s perfect just the way it is.
You will know how to listen to your body, and understand what and how much food makes you feel at your best. And you will be able to eat whatever you want – without guilt.
This is NOT to say you will be ‘fully healed’ or that you won’t have to keep working at it.
You need to do a LOT of unlearning when it comes to behaviours and trauma work that caused your emotional eating in the first place, and you can’t expect to see perfection overnight, there is no such thing.
Starting the journey to food freedom is absolutely life-changing – but it’s also life-long – after all, your relationship with yourself is the longest one you’ll have!
Take the first step to food & body freedom
After all that, you may still be hoping for food & body freedom AND weight loss – and that’s okay! It’s a mindset shift that will take time, and probably some outside help.
If you struggle with binge eating, emotional eating, yo-yo dieting or poor body image and you are interested in finding food & body freedom, falling in love with your body and ditching diets forever – I offer a limited number of free 30-minute calls each month.
On the calls, we will
- Get clarity on what is the root cause of your binge eating/emotional eating
- Identify your biggest struggle
- What is stopping you from achieving your goals?
“After my work with Tania, what used to feel chaotic and overwhelming in my life now feels effortless and exciting. Nothing has changed in my external world, but the way I think about it has completely transformed. I have balance, I can relax without guilt, I have boundaries, and I like the person I see in the mirror for the first time in my life (yes, even naked!). After years of disordered eating, obsessive macro counting, daily weigh-ins, and secret binges, releasing this 24/7 obsession I had with food feels like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders – one I didn’t even know I was carrying.” – Averi