I know that when I started down the attuned eating path, I was doing Intuitive Eating for weight loss. I was hoping that eating from hunger and fullness would make me leaner.
After all, who isn’t scared of a process that doesn’t promise the ultimate: weight loss. Of having a body that all clothes fit, of having a body that isn’t subject to judgment but is an external representation of success?
There’s no doubt that Intuitive Eating has been co-opted. That if you eat intuitively you will lose weight. But this isn’t what Intuitive Eating is about. Intuitive Eating is a way of freedom – for you to have more space to do the things that are important and live out your life and your values.
Knowing that attuned eating provides an opportunity from the oppression of daily weight checks, constant food thoughts, and frequent ‘breaking’ the diet because we are NOT designed to mentally, emotionally or physically to spend our lives suppressing, doesn’t mean we instantly lose the desire to weigh less.
Why is it so hard to not desire Intuitive Eating for weight loss?
Let’s talk about the ways…
We have been conditioned to want it.
We have evidence that we should weigh less (and want to weigh less) from everyone around us. It’s an intergenerational message that is imprinted on us that thinness/leanness means that we are more disciplined, attractive, powerful, desirable, and successful.
For me personally, as a child, I saw and felt the pain and hopelessness my mother and grandmother went through in being female in a culture that diminishes the characteristics that come with having a larger body: they were overlooked. In my 10- and 16-year-old minds, did I want to avoid feeling powerless? You bet.
Our health care system educates healthcare workers that fatness is bad.
If that wasn’t the case, you would see an emphatic focus on the behaviors that actually “hedge our bets” with our health and would include in their conversations with us, first and foremost, connection and purpose, healing chronic stress and traumas, sustainable and pleasurable movement, reducing stigma, non-smoking and a varied diet.
We are fed a steady diet of idolizing thin/weight oppressed people in our entertainment/health entertainment.
If we only see this one body type portrayed in what we are being told we should buy, without faith in our inherent worthiness, how does a person not believe thinness is what we should all be?
Weight prejudice is real
People are stigmatized and treated differently based on size. Remember that abomination of a show “The Biggest Loser” that terrorized people for entertainment for their “own good’? Who wants to be in a stigmatized group?
What can you expect will happen to your weight with Intuitive Eating?
Your body might gain weight.
It might gain temporarily.
It might gain weight in a different distribution than you are used to, to protect your organs.
It might gain permanently because you haven’t ever let your body reach its destined adult weight.
It might gain and hang on for months or even a year or two to watch to see if you restrict it again.
You might weigh more than you ever have and stay there. This might be for many reasons ranging from hormonal to age to it just flat out where your body wants to be. That is more than okay.
It might gain, then plateau (for weeks, or months, or years), then come down a little bit.
Or, it may do absolutely nothing and stay the same.
Whatever happens, it is happening for your good. To heal and nourish, no matter what size you are.
Your body doesn’t care that we live in a fat-phobic world that uses weight as a weapon to control how people should feel about themselves.
It’s doing what it’s meant to do.
Keep you alive.
What do I do with the desire to use Intuitive Eating for weight loss?
Acknowledge it with compassion
It’s not your fault and it’s bound to happen.
And then get really curious and really honest about what makes you still want weight loss?
What feels so important about that?
What’s going to happen to you if you get it?
What’s going to happen to you if you let go of it?
What will you believe about yourself if you let go of dieting?
You are worth the time and the effort and the investigation of digging in deeper about wanting to do Intuitive Eating for weight loss.
Remember that weight loss doesn’t provide true healing
It is a leap of faith to reject dieting and it is a journey of courage to seek what is good about life and people and look for people to surround ourselves with who do not judge one another based on external appearance.
But issues with weight, body image or self-esteem will never be healed by changing the body.
I am not talking about the aches, pains, pressure or other physical things that come with having a body. That is different.
I am speaking of the internalized beliefs that one cannot be happy with oneself if body size or weight change isn’t achieved.
This is a matter of inner healing.
Healing the hunger we have for being seen. Supported in what we feel and who we are. Feeling safe and supported in our down times. The inner heaviness that sits like a weight in our stomachs or on our chest or a sigh of relief.
And that starts by taking the focus off the external and going through the doorway of hunger and fullness work, decoding our “fat feelings” and fears about food and weight and growing our window of tolerance for the ups and downs of life without using food and weight as a container for all that feels not manageable.
Yes, weight loss may be an act of survival for people with marginalized identities facing daily oppression. But even this only provides temporary relief – true healing here can only be facilitated by cultural change.
Final words of compassion
There are so many things for us to celebrate about ourselves, weight loss being the least of them.
So, thank you so much for being here and know that I always admire your courage for even pursuing a path that the world is not going to congratulate you for — separating your worth from your weight.
If you need more ideas about how to navigate your specific needs, reach out.
Wishing you faith and courage in your attuned eating journey,
P.S. Below is a video version of me talking more about wanting to do Intuitive Eating for weight loss