Intuitive Eating And Weight Loss

by Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. on February 21, 2011

by Golda Poretsky, HHC

I want to make something really, really clear.

If you’ve been practicing intuitive eating, and it hasn’t resulted in weight loss, it is not your fault and it doesn’t mean that you’re doing it wrong.

When I first heard about intuitive eating as an alternative to dieting, I read everything that Geneen Roth ever wrote.  And although she has a lot of good things to say, she also implies, again and again in each of her books, that if you eat intuitively you will lose weight.  She even uses that trick that every diet marketer in the history of diets uses, writing things like:

“By May I had gained 15 pounds.  From May through September, my weight stabilized.  In October, still eating what I wanted, I began to lose weight, and over the next two years, I lost 30 pounds.  That was five years ago.”  [1]

What Ms. Roth doesn’t tell you is that she is an anomaly.  There’s no “results not typical” even though they are.  There’s no mention of the fact, in any of her books, that dieting wreaks havoc on your metabolism such that intuitive eating may not have much of an effect on your weight at all.[2]

And, perhaps most perturbing, is the fact that practicing intuitive eating with the expectation of weight loss really screws up your ability to eat intuitively.

The truth is that you can’t be intuitive when you’re looking for a particular result.

It’s like reading tarot cards to find out if someone who you want to date likes you back.  If you’re feeling desperate enough, you will read all manner of loveliness into cards that say that this person has no interest in you.

It’s the same with intuitive eating.  If you’re doing it to lose weight, you will convince yourself that you just want to eat celery sticks when you’re body is jonesing for some protein.  You’ll convince yourself that you’re not hungry when you are.  You’ll keep yourself in the dieting framework of punishment and reward and restriction.  You’ll be reading the cards all wrong because you don’t want to believe what you see.

Intuitive eating is not about control, it’s about trust.  It’s about trusting your body’s signals of hunger and fullness, desire and satisfaction.  It’s about trusting your body enough to know that it needn’t be so controlled.

When you allow yourself to eat intuitively, you will get results. Those results may or may not include weight loss, but they will definitely include something more.  They will include a letting go of the daily stress of worrying about food and weight.  They will include feeling at peace with your body and it’s needs.  They will include a new spaciousness in your life for joy, an openness to possibilities, a willingness to love and approve of yourself and be the fully-embodied person you were born to be.

If you’re ready to experience these beautiful, tangible results, I invite you to join me for How To Heal From Emotional Eating, a 3 class teleseries which starts in just a few days.  Click here for more info:  http://www.healfromemotionaleating.com.

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Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.

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  1. [1] Geneen Roth, Breaking Free From Emotional Eating (New York: Plume, 2003) 19
  2. [2]   This is one of the many things I loved about Dr. Linda Bacon‘s book, Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight.  Linda disclaimed her own weight loss by writing the following.  “You’ve heard this before.  Every book about weight starts with the weight loss testimonial.  It gets your hopes up and sells books.  And when it doesn’t work the same way for you, that’s always your fault–you must have done something wrong, if you didn’t get the same results.  So let me be clear: My weight-loss results aren’t typical, and I don’t mean to use my experience to promote any weight loss technique.”  (Dallas: BenBella Books, 2008) xxii

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