Weight Loss and Intuitive Eating: Starting Intuitive Eating When I Want to be Thin

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I’m Sarah (she/her), a Toronto-based writer, anti-diet nutritionist, and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor. I teach folks how to have a healthy relationship with food and accept their natural body size.

Hi, I'm Sarah

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Maybe you’re interested in intuitive eating…but you still want to lose weight.

Not-so-secret confession? I still wanted to lose weight when I started intuitive eating and I certainly wasn’t alone in my experience. Don’t get me wrong — I was super done with diets, over-exercising, “randomly” bingeing, and the whole gamut, but I still didn’t feel at ease in my body. I still believed something was Inherently Wrong With Me and that when my food issues resolved, this deep, encompassing pain would evaporate faster than water simmered over a hot stove.

Part of me believed intuitive eating was The Secret.

…And part of me didn’t think I could accept my body.

All of this makes sense to me in retrospect.

What I was really — genuinely, authentically — holding a flame for wasn’t another diet or even weight loss. I wanted to feel good, comfortable, accepted, confident, loved. I just didn’t realize I could have any of those things in the body I was in. And I didn’t know how to deal with the uncomfortable emotions I experienced without taking them out on my body, even if I couldn’t see the connection.

While it felt counter-intuitive, moving forward with intuitive eating — in conjunction with psychotherapy — allowed me to heal that Inherently Something Wrong With Me festering wound. Where diet culture always left me wanting more, intuitive eating felt like a big, cozy chair I could fold myself into. Dieting felt like a cool club I could never gain entry into; intuitive eating felt like a homecoming.

It took me a long time to recognize that ambivalence I felt wasn’t resistance; it was protection. Many of us start dieting as a way to gain safety, to connect with something: to get community, to feel accepted and loved, to quell some kind of uncomfortable or painful feeling. Devoting ourselves to diet rituals and commandments only disconnect us further, though; nothing pulls you out of the present quite like starving.

And so how do you work through that ambivalence?

Take one step toward intuitive eating, like asking yourself what you’d like for breakfast, choosing to honour your hunger, eating the food you really want at the restaurant.

Take just one step. And then another.

You don’t have to be all in. Wanting something else is enough.

Let the want lead.

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