Intuitive eating sounds great...but what if I still want to lose weight?

by Kelsey Pukala

It’s 2019 and you’re ready to ditch diet culture.  Goodbye diets… hello Intuitive Eating! You’re embracing more intuitive eating principles, giving yourself permission to eat and noticing your hunger and fullness.  You’re making progress (you’ve got this)! So, what happens when you want to fully embrace intuitive eating and also have a desire to lose weight?

What happens when your peers and coworkers are talking about the latest diets, toning up, leaning out and losing those last 5 pounds?  It can feel like you have one foot in intuitive eating but still one foot immersed in diet culture.

First of all, I want to validate those weight loss desires.  Those are real and constantly encouraged in a society that is laden with weight stigma and fat phobia. It makes perfect sense that you have that desire. If you find yourself asking the question, “how can I practice intuitive eating and still lose weight?” then this post is for you!

I would like to briefly state that the BMI charts along with the word “obese” are irrelevant and have no place in the medical dictionary.  Obese is a pathological term and BMI doesn’t correlate to illness or unhealthy conditions. Weight loss and thinness do not equal health. Okay… rant over.

If you want to become an intuitive eater, but also want to lose weight, my question back to you is why?  Where is the desire to lose weight coming from? What do you feel will happen if you lose weight? Will you be treated differently Finally accepted and worthy? Beautiful and healthy? Finally able to fit into that bikini from high school?

Whatever the reason is, I would ask you to consider the possibility of accepting that your healthy set point weight may not be your ideal weight.  This is tough and I often find that a grieving process can actually be helpful and important. Mourning the loss of the body you desire is hard, so have grace and compassion for yourself as you move through this.  Can you start to choose behaviors that positively impact your health instead of manipulate your body size? We know from research that weight itself is not what leads to chronic disease or health conditions.

It’s more important to focus on behaviors and our relationships with food, movement, stress, sleep, friends/family, etc. Can weight loss be a possible outcome of changing behaviors? Yes. But, in order to pursue health, you cannot also pursue weight loss.  Pursuing weight loss can pull you further away from your body’s signals and can stand in the way of fully embracing intuitive eating.

If you try to manipulate intuitive eating so you can lose weight, that’s a diet.  With intuitive eating you may lose weight, gain weight or stay the same. And all of those outcomes are OKAY because instead of choosing micromanagement, you are choosing freedom and attunement.  It can also take time for your body to find it’s natural set point. Honoring your hunger and fullness, giving yourself unconditional permission to eat, discovering satisfaction in eating, taking the morality and judgment away from food, finding movement that you enjoy and that feels good… these are some great ways to embrace intuitive eating.   

Intuitive eating isn’t a diet or a quick fix.  You can’t “win” or “fall off the bandwagon.” It’s a continuous learning process and will change as you change and go through different phases of life.  Weight fluctuations are normal and can actually be a way that your body is caring for and protecting you.

The journey to body trust and acceptance can be a long and winding road.  Loving your body may seem impossible and that’s completely normal and valid.  Can you start by tolerating your body? You may find that allows you to move towards acceptance.  

There are some fantastic ways to care for your body that don’t involve changing your body size or micromanaging your weight.  I included some below! Working towards accepting and possibly loving your body can drive you to make choices and decisions that are best for you as a whole person, not just decisions that may or may not affect your weight.   Remember too, that in time, the desire to lose weight may dissipate as you trust that your body is for you and not against you.

Ways to care for your body that don’t involve weight loss

-Find a form a movement that you enjoy and that feels good to you (if that’s nothing right now, that’s perfectly okay!

-Honor your hunger cues by eating when you’re hungry throughout the day

-Schedule 7-8 hours to sleep each night

-Carve out time to rest and enjoy activities or hobbies you love

-Develop coping skills when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, out of control etc. (this may be easier if you’re working with a therapist and/or dietitian to help and support!)

-Recognize when you are “shoulding” yourself into doing things that don’t feel good, become an objective observer instead of a harsh critic!

What are some other ways you care for your body without trying to manipulate it?

Thank you so much to Kelsey for this amazing blog post! Don’t forget you can now work with Kelsey at NMN, and still at a discounted price (for just a couple more weeks). Click here to learn more.

Intuitive Eating sounds great...but what if I still want to lose weight?

Are you new to intuitive eating? Still not totally sure if you are convinced that intuitive eating is right for you? Click the link below to sign up to receive my free e-book on why diets don’t work. Rejecting diet mentality is the first step to embracing intuitive eating, let’s walk through it together!