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Scared of gaining weight on intuitive eating?

A common fear with intuitive eating is that you'll eat too much and gain weight. It's totally understandable to have this fear, however if you're serious about making peace with food you can't let it hold you back from achieving your goal.

On another note, it's important to be compassionate with yourself for feeling this way. After all, it's only because of deeply ingrained socio-cultural conditioning that most people hold judgment towards bigger bodies. Trying to control your weight (instead of allowing your body to self-regulate at your set point weight) has been a way of protecting yourself from discrimination and emotional pain that you may have previously experienced, or seen inflicted upon others, because of being 'too fat'. So it only makes sense that you'd be fearful of gaining weight by letting go of weight control tools (dieting, calorie counting, food rules etc.).

It really helps to be realistic when starting your intuitive eating journey. We've grown accustomed to believing the cornerstone lie of diet culture: that there is one magic diet that is going to 'work' for you. You know this is not true because you've probably already tried a few diets in the past and none of them have worked for you. There is no magic bullet that can promise the 'perfect weight'. Similarly, with an anti-diet approach to eating, there are no false promises. There's no way of knowing how your body will respond (lose, maintain or gain weight) other than just giving it a try.

So here's what I'd say to you if you were one of my coaching clients:

"I'm scared I'll eat too much"

In the beginning, you might eat more than you physically need to. Depending on how you've eaten in the past, your body and mind may have been feeling deprived for months or even years. It's a normal response to eat a lot more when you let go of food restriction/rules. Eating 'too much' may be in the literal sense, or eating the foods that were previously off limits in large quantities. However, as you continue to grant yourself unconditional permission to eat, you will eventually reach food habituation (the more you allow yourself to eat, the less you will desire to eat more than you need to) (Tribole, 2005). Your eating habits will stabilise.

"I'm scared I'll gain weight"

It's not possible to pre-determine whether or not your weight will change. But, it's really helpful to keep in mind that intuitive eating isn't just about physical health, but also mental health. Consider how your former eating habits and food mindset have been harmful to your mental health. Also consider that your concept of a healthy weight is likely to have been completely twisted by diet culture messaging. Releasing the food rules may be even more helpful in allowing your body to naturally regulate weight and settle at the weight that allows your body to function optimally.

I know this is probably a lot to process, and the fear is real. In coaching sessions, I try to help my clients focus on the good that will come out adopting a healthier mindset and approach to eating, instead of on the 'bad'. The truth is the fear may never go away, but your ability to be resilient will get stronger the longer you do this work. With time and perseverance, the fear will fade into the background of your mind and your new values of healthy eating without dieting, and not having to conform to body standards will rise to the fore.

If you'd love to hear more from me and get support on your journey, join my newsletter community (and get a free PDF gift when you sign up). I'd also love to see you inside my Facebook community, which you can join here.

Until next time

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 Food and body image issues are distracting women from showing up meaningfully in their lives. My desire is to help women heal from disordered eating, have a healthier relationship with food and live a life of health without obsession. In this way, the noise will be cleared and collectively we'll be empowered to create a positive ripple-effect in our own lives and in the lives of others.

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