Kara (not her real name), is a stay-at-home mother who felt chronic anxiety about food and her weight. She reached out to me and said:
“I’ve tried every diet under the sun, from keto to intermittent fasting. On all of these, I lost weight, but then I fell off the wagon and gained the weight back. Plus, I think about food 24/7. I just want to eat normally, you know?”
Yes, I know.
As a Body Connection Coach who helps women heal their relationship with food, I’ve heard this story more times than I can count. It’s no wonder many people feel confused and preoccupied with food, since the global diet industry makes $288 billion a year convincing us that we’re eating the wrong food, in the wrong amount, at the wrong time.
DIETING CAUSES METABOLIC DAMAGE
Dieting is restricting what or when we eat, with the intention of losing weight. Ironically, scientific data indicates the most reliable outcome of a weight loss diet is weight gain.
Dieting slows down the metabolism because the body senses a famine state — what researchers call an “adaptive response to uncertainty” (1). This is why people tend to lose weight faster when they first start dieting, but as they continue to diet over the years, it takes more time or extreme measures to lose weight.
This dieting-induced famine state has both physical and psychological effects. Physically, the body slows down its metabolic rate to preserve energy, due to the perceived food uncertainty.
Psychologically, it triggers an obsession around food. We start to think about, plan, and fantasize about food 24/7. Why? Because the body is trying to compensate for the perceived famine by focusing all your mental energy around food.
In fact, repeated dieting is a strong predictor of future weight gain, with most dieters gaining back the same amount of weight or more (2, 3). Yo-yo dieting might increase health concerns, and it correlates to higher blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease in women (4).
To put it simply: repeated dieting slows down your metabolism overtime. Another term for this is metabolic damage. So, dieting more isn’t going to solve the problem it created in the first place.
This contradicts the mainstream assumption that one must pursue weight loss in order to increase one’s health. Weight loss may happen as a result of increased health measures, but actually the pursuit of weight loss can backfire into worsened health outcomes.
It’s another example of how mainstream health assumptions are often backwards… if our mainstream beliefs were correct, then the masses would be healthy!
PURSUING HEALTH WITHOUT CHASING WEIGHT LOSS
If the most common outcome of dieting is regaining weight, then what about the assumption that a fat body equals and unhealthy body? In their book Body Respect, health researchers Dr. Lindo Bacon and Lucy Aphramor explain that many diseases are more common in fat people, but the literature shows correlation, not causation.
Many other personal and societal factors, including fitness levels and income level, must be considered for a clearer picture. Bacon and Aphramor state, “Telling people they need to lose weight is a lot like telling someone with pneumonia to stop coughing so much—it may not be possible and won’t make the disease go away.”
Further, as women like Kara experience, dieting often leads to food preoccupation; food planning, fantasizing, and obsession begins to occupy every waking thought.
To heal our food and weight challenges, we need to shift our perspective and heal aspects of our lives deeper than our physical size. This is why my work with clients focuses on the spiritual, subconscious, and emotional aspects of their lives.
SWITCHING TO INTUITIVE EATING
Working with Kara, I helped her practice intuitive eating, an evidence-based (5, 6, 7) philosophy shown to produce much better long-term health outcomes, weight stability, and self-acceptance. Intuitive eating involves trusting your body’s hunger cues to achieve food freedom and health without restricting food.
Instead of outsourcing your authority to diet plans, calories, points, grams, and fitness trackers, you return to your inner authority. You allow your body to be the expert on your body. What a concept!
Intuitive eating allows you to overcome the metabolic damage and food obsession created by dieting. First, you change mental gears and getting out of the “restrictive” mentality. Then, you learn to trust your own hunger signals, no longer purposefully restricting the amount of food you eat.
Your body, no longer sensing a famine state, increases its metabolic rate and you’ll find yourself only thinking about food when you are hungry, instead of obsessing about it.
This may sound like a scary concept — to relinquish all control around food — but this process of full surrender allows you to get back in touch with your body’s wisdom.
RESULTS OF INTUITIVE EATING
Although Kara initially felt terrified to give up food rules, the results astonished her. Not only did her nighttime binging disappear, she now enjoys complete spontaneity and ease in her food choices. She has realized that the only way to achieve the pleasure and self-love she wanted in her life was… get this… to actually allow pleasure and self-love without first changing her body.
She feels refreshingly disconnected from her appearance, so that she’s no longer using body insecurity as an excuse to avoid emotional vulnerability and self-growth. She told me her husband is delighted because, as a result, she has unleashed her sexual confidence. Kara also told me she is starting to see the external beauty she always had, as if she is looking at herself with new eyes. Which, in fact, she is.
She is looking at herself with the eyes of love.
Most importantly, Kara finally understands that the short bursts of weight loss on previous diets were fundamentally unsustainable, so now she’s living her best life in her current body size. That’s the beautiful freedom of intuitive eating: the all-consuming anxiety you once felt about food and weight disappears, since you’re not longer trying to control what you ultimately can’t control.
I have witnessed in Kara what I’ve seen from so many other women who learned intuitive eating: the weight of the world falls off their shoulders, and that is the best weight to lose.
That is the real weight that is holding you back. That is the weight that is keeping you feeling unhappy and insecure. When you drop that weight, you get the best reward: you become more YOU.
WANT MY HELP WITH INTUITIVE EATING?
If you want to make the leap to intuitive eating, I can help!
My Food Without Fear Program is a spiritual approach to healing lifelong food/weight issues.
This program helps you permanently end binging, emotional eating, weight anxiety, chronic food sensitivities, and over-control patterns around food.
After Food without Fear, you’ll establish a sustainable, healthy relationship with food and enjoy eating with ease and freedom. And you’ll feel comfortable and confident in your body!
THURSDAY APRIL 14th is the last day to enroll for the current cohort.
I look forward to working with you!