“I read the book and I loved it. I love the idea of intuitive eating but I really need to lose weight. Will I be able to lose weight if I eat intuitively?” This is typically one of the first questions I get when meeting with new clients and it’s a tricky one to answer. It’s hard because the answer really is “it depends”. Can people lose weight by eating in a more mindful and intuitive way? Yes, some can. Will everyone? No not everyone will. Firstly, I always like to remind people that I’m a therapist not a dietician so my role really is to help people look at the issues that are underlying their weight concerns.
Also, research shows us that whether someone loses weight eating intuitively or not is largely determined by whether they have habitually eaten beyond satiety prior to exploring intuitive eating and what their bodies unique weight set point range is. Most importantly, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, research also shows that this set point is influenced by dieting. The longer and more extensive a history of dieting someone has, the more likely they are to have a higher set point range for their weight. In other words, dieting raises our weight set point range-yikes! Not great news for someone coming in to see me with a history of dieting.
Intuitive eating preaches the importance of putting weight loss “on the back burner”. This is because if we continue to have weight loss as our main goal, it will most likely sabotage our efforts to truly eat intuitively and we will be more likely to either treat intuitive eating as a “hunger and fullness diet” or simply to go back to dieting. Most importantly, in doing this we miss out on the opportunity to really address some of these bigger issues that we are likely neglecting when we are so focused on food and our bodies! Most clients that come to me are so caught up in their relationship with food and their weight that they aren’t even noticing the other issues that are really what are driving their eating behaviors.
For example, maybe instead of talking of talking with my supervisor about how stressed and overwhelmed I am with my current workload, I go home at night and pour myself a glass of wine, dig into a pizza, and have some ice cream for dessert. These are valid food choices if that’s truly what my body desires but in this situation I’m using food to cope with how I’m feeling about work and guess what, the real and more important issue, how do I manage my work stress, doesn’t get addressed at all. So many people use food to cope with life at times and that’s not necessarily a negative thing. ALL people eat emotionally from time to time, but often times there are things we are eating over that our lives would be so much better off if we actually addressed head on.
Questions about emotional eating or anything else I brought up in the post? Feel free to get in touch with me!