Answering one of the most common questions I get regarding intuitive eating which is, “can I lose weight with intuitive eating?”
If you google search “Intuitive Eating” one of the suggestions is “Intuitive Eating Weight Loss”. As a result, there’s a lot of confusion around intuitive eating. It’s no surprise weight loss has been attached to intuitive eating given that we live in a culture obsessed with dieting and thinness.
Unfortunately, this undermines the heart of intuitive eating and completely misses the point. Intuitive eating was never intended to be a program for weight loss. In fact, the primary aim is to shift the focus away from weight and towards the establishment of health-promoting behaviors.
Can I lose weight with intuitive eating?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: yes, AND you could also gain weight or maintain weight.
Intuitive eating helps you return to your body’s setpoint weight. Your setpoint is your body’s stable weight range that is comfortably maintained without calorie restriction, obsessive exercise, or control of food. It’s a weight that you FEEL GOOD at and your body is comfortable maintaining.
In conclusion, intuitive eating will guide you to the weight that is healthiest for you. For some, this means gaining weight. While others, this means losing weight.
For more information read, What is My Setpoint Weight?
What if part of me still wants to lose weight?
First, I see and recognize your desire to lose weight. Your desire is valid. In today’s world, there is an unhealthy amount of “praise” for weight loss and nasty stigma around weight gain.
The majority of my clients start intuitive eating on the fence. On one hand, they want to be done with dieting. On the other hand, they cling to weight loss. The point is: you are allowed to start intuitive eating just as you are, even if that means feeling a little conflicted.
Through thoughtful coaching, I help my clients get to the root of their desire to lose weight. After peeling back several layers, common responses I hear from my clients include:
- “I want to feel more confident in my skin.”
- “I want to be healthier so that I can live longer & age well!”
- “For improved numbers and disease prevention.”
The GOOD news is that each of these goals can be achieved whether or not weight changes!
My doctor told me I need to lose weight for my health.
Unfortunately, most medical professionals are trained under the weight-centric model, which creates weight stigma and bias. Weight stigma is part of the problem, not the solution.
Since the early 2000s, there has been a new wave of research supporting the weight-neutral model, Health At Every Size (HAES). HAES proposes that we encourage body acceptance, support intuitive eating, and support active embodiment (1).
HAES research indicates that health outcomes can be improved without focusing on weight. The American Journal of Public Health evaluated HAES interventions and found that people utilizing this approach:
- Maintained weight
- Improved blood pressure and lipids
- Improved eating behaviors
- Boosted self-esteem
- Lower rates of depression
- Improved body image
Furthermore, these improvements are highlighted for being sustained over the long term. Isn’t that what you want: healthy behaviors that are sustainable?
How can I tell I’m making progress if I’m not weighing myself?
It’s part of our human nature to crave progress. Growth is encouraging and motivating! You might worry, “if I’m not weighing myself with intuitive eating, how will I know I’m getting better?”
This is where we can track behavior change and other non-weight health outcomes! Behaviors are things that we do, while outcomes are the result.
Measurable behavior changes:
- Frequency of binge eating behaviors
- Consistency with exercise/movement
- Healthy eating patterns
Common behavior changes sustained and maintained among my clients include less binge eating, greater consistency with movement, and a pattern of eating consistent meals versus skipping them.
Non-weight health outcomes:
- Energy level
- Blood work
- Mood / psychological factors
- Endurance / stamina
- Regular digestion
Common non-weight health outcomes among my clients include boosted energy levels, better hormone balance, less anxiety & stress, and feeling stronger.
Food For Thought
If you’re afraid to ditch the scale, I encourage you to read what my client said about making this change:
Rejecting my scale was one of the most powerful things I have ever done. I am freed from the daily burden of facing the flashing red numbers of my scale and accepting that single fact as success or failure. I now consider how I actually “feel” and how I move and my level of energy as the measure of my eating choices. – Jean, Everglow Nutrition Client
Still not sure if intuitive eating is for you?
Schedule a free discovery call! We’ll discuss your current nutrition challenges, lifestyle patterns, and health goals. You’ll walk away with greater clarity and a path in place for achieving your goals.