Is weight loss possible whilst eating intuitively?

In a word yes! Weight loss can happen with intuitive eating but it is not the GOAL of the journey. Equally your weight might increase or stay the same depending on your starting point. In this blog we'll address if weight loss can happen but also is this what we should be striving for?

Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach to eating designed to support those who feel stuck in the dieting "restrict-binge" cycle change their relationship to food; and move away from dieting to enjoy better health and wellbeing. The Intuitive Eating approach was created in 1995 by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch who wrote their first book in that name in 1995. Intuitive eating focuses on enjoying foods to nourish your body rather than approaching food through a restrictive dieting lens. It can help create healthier relationships around food and support you to detach eating from your emotions or at least implement other coping strategies to deal with unwanted emotions etc which could ultimately lead to less reliance on food for self care.
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Can you lose weight with IE?

This is probably one of the most common questions I get asked: can I practice intuitive eating and achieve weight loss?” And the answer is we don’t know what will happen to your weight. I do however know that when we continue to focus on the numbers on the scales and listen to external cues about when, what and how much to eat (aka dieting) we are disconnected from listening to our body. How can we allow ourselves to truly embrace intuitive eating and act on hunger cues, give ourselves permission to include all foods in the diet and not restrict foods/portion size if we are trying to shrink our body and achieve weight loss still?


So your weight might stay the same, weight loss might happen or your weight might increase; but the change in weight does not determine if you are doing intuitively eating correctly or not.   When you eat based on internal cues and stop micromanage your food intake your weight will settle where it is meant to. The theory is we all have a “set point weight range”, a genetic pre-determined set weight range where our body wants to be for optimal function. It is a weight that is effortless for your body to maintain without micromanaging food intake or restricting calories; and this theory can help us understand why 80% of dieters regain weight lost and more within 2-5 years. Scientists do not still fully understand what factors affect weight change but we know our environment and relationship with food (i.e. restricting and bingeing through dieting) can see us overshoot our set point range.


As you read this you might be intrigued by intuitive eating, excited at the prospect of being allowed to include more foods in the diet and learn how to quieten down that judgey diet voice; but at the same time still hanker after weight loss!


If weight loss is still really important to you, that’s ok!

The desire for weight loss is of course normal and understandable when we live in a society that equates weight with status, beauty, acceptance, health and happiness. And therefore the idea of stepping away from dieting and trying to control your weight, giving yourself permission to eat all foods and listen to what your body wants might bring about a true fear of rejection etc.


Worry and fear around weight change and body size during your intuitive eating journey is normal

Dieting might have served you at some point in your life, given you a sense of control, belonging etc but if you are reading this I can only assume you are wanting a different approach as experience is telling you dieting does not work.

And research will back up your experience; as to date there is no concrete scientific evidence that shows dieting and food restriction actually work for weight loss long term.  Evidence actually shows restrictive dieting leads to yo-yo dieting, causing chronic dieters to go from periods of serious restriction to overeating and dieting will firmly keeps the dieter in the restrict (lose weight) and binge (gain weight) cycle.

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Should you use IE for weight loss?


No! Intuitive eating is listening to your body, fuelling it and increasing variety of foods in the diet. If weight loss is the goal and you are telling yourself you need to be smaller this makes it very difficult for you to allow yourself to listen and act on your hunger signs etc.

What will happen to your weight?


In answer to the question it is impossible for me, for you or anyone to know what will happen to your weight when you stop dieting and start eating intuitively. Your weight may change in either direction so you could lose some initial weight by adopting healthier relationship with foods and less binges or you could also gain weight is you are severely restricting your food intake.


Some of the reasons for weight changes (weight gain or loss) with intuitive eating include a more regular eating patten and nourishing the body so less swings in our blood glucose levels; improved relationship with food so less restriction followed by bingeing episodes; more variety and permission to fuel adequately at meals so less mindless snacking; and improved self care so less reliance on food to manage and soothe emotions.


The focus needs to shift from what will happen to my weight, will I gain weight?  to what will I gain in other aspects of my life when I step off the dieting treadmill?

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What if you’ve been told to lose weight by your healthcare professional?

This is a very “old school “ and one could say lazy approach to nutrition and health as increasingly more and more studies have shown that engaging in health promoting behaviours such as increasing physical activity levels, stopping smoking, managing stress etc can improve our health irrespective of our weight. We cannot equate weight to health anymore! It is our behaviours that determine our health outcome, not our weight! Imagine someone with a “low/normal BMI” who eats a diet full of ultra processed foods, smokes, drinks heavily and does minimal activity versus someone in a larger body who is walking 10K steps daily, does not smoke, enjoys the occasional glass of wine and has an abundance of wholegrains in their diet… who you would consider to be the “healthier person”?


We know that weight is not something entirely in our control!

Can you be healthy with IE?

Absolutely!! Intuitive eating aims to improve health promoting behaviours to improve your overall health and wellness, to feel good mentally and physically; letting weight settle in its natural and healthy place for you.  Intuitive Eating does not have weight change as a goal and actually it encourages us to stop striving for an unrealistic body type and learning to treat the body we do have with respect and appreciation, nourishing it well.

Multiple studies have shown how turning to food as an emotional comfort can lead to weight gain over time and researchers have identified that intuitive eaters tend to be less preoccupied with food, have less disordered and emotional eating, have less stress, better body image and tend to have a lower BMI

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Intuitive eating is a new direction away from the chaos created by diet culture..

If any of the above information is making you want to change direction and cut the dieting strings holding you back get in touch and I would love to meet with you and show you the new path to Intuitive Eating. Alternatively read my previous blog on how to start your intuitive eating journey



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