Grief, Loss, and Intuitive Eating: Giving Up Dieting for Good

Most of us being our intuitive eating journey because we know dieting is no longer working for us. Even so, giving up dieting for good is incredibly difficult. In fact for most people, this is the hardest part of becoming an intuitive eater. It also causes many people to find themselves swinging back and forth between intuitive eating and dieting. Why is not dieting so difficult if we know dieting isn’t working for us?  It’s hard because it involves truly rejecting the diet mentality and with that, having the realization that we will never diet again. This is difficult to accept and achieve when we are surrounded by a culture the embraces dieting whole heartedly. It seems a day doesn’t go by where we aren’t hearing about how dieting cures disease X or how this hot new diet is the one that will help us shed the weight for real this time.

This is also hard because although wonderful things come from choosing to stop dieting, giving up dieting also is a loss. We are losing that thing we could focus on when everything else in our lives seemed stressful and out of control. We are losing a source of comfort. We are also losing the thing we just knew was going to help us lose weight and excel in all these other areas of our lives.  (Even though we may intellectually know we don’t need to lose weight to accomplish those things).

Maybe hardest of all is the reality that we may not ever achieve that “goal body” and we are left with having to face the prospect of accepting our bodies as they are.  Worse yet, to do that with our only tool for attempting to manipulate them gone! Not easy at all. So how do we deal with all these feelings that come up when we stop dieting? Well, we have to allow ourselves to actually feel them. I know you’re probably thinking “oh the therapist is telling me to feel my feelings how original..not”.  That said, original or not it’s incredibly important.

I say this because I very often see people struggling with intuitive eating go back to dieting because they haven’t done this. They haven’t allowed themselves to grieve the things they are losing by choosing not to diet. It’s just like any other feeling we try not to acknowledge. When we don’t acknowledge those times where we are actually feeling sad, mad, or whatever that we aren’t dieting, those feelings just gain more power until eventually something has to give. Those concerns just tend to grow and until before you know it you are back on a diet. If we allow ourselves to grieve everything we thought dieting was going to do for us, it makes our journey towards a better relationship with food and our bodies so much easier to achieve.


Questions about grieving the loss of dieting or anything else around body image and mindful eating? Feel free to get in touch!