10 Tips to Manage Anxiety About Weight Gain

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Whenever anyone quits dieting (defined as intentional attempts to control weight and size) and decides to practice intuitive eating, their body and mind go a through significant transition. While it is often a relief that they no longer have to follow strict rules around food and movement, removing them can be anxiety producing for a variety of reasons. Many will wonder, “What is going to happen to my body now?” or “Won’t I just keep gaining weight if I do not have any rules in place?”. The truth is that no one can answer these questions with certainty because each body may respond differently based on its dieting history, current health status, genetics, medications, socioeconomic status, etc.  We do know with certainty that one of three outcomes may happen: Weight remains the same, weight loss, or weight gain.

While the focus of intuitive eating, which is a practice that teaches ex-dieters and previous food restricters to tune-in to their bodies innate cues related to hunger, fullness and food satisfaction, among other things, is not to focus on weight loss but instead improving ones relationship with food, sometimes weight gain does occur as part of the recovery process.

I will stress that if you are one of the people who gained weight while practicing intuitive eating, it does not mean that there is something wrong with you or with your intuitive eating practice.

Understanding that weight gain is sometimes the body’s response to periods (sometimes decades) of restriction is important. Continuing to practice intuitive eating is the best course of action even though the weight gain may be uncomfortable both emotionally and physically. After all, we cannot ignore the fact that weight stigma is real and can have profound negative effects on our overall health.

To help my clients, and others who ask me, manage the discomfort from weight gain, I offer them the following suggestions.

  1. Cultivate self-compassion – While this is often the furthest thing from most people’s minds during life’s ups and downs, it is often what is needed most of all. The first step to being more self-compassionate is acknowledging the discomfort. So, take time to lean into the discomfort even though that may seem challenging some days. Acknowledge that anyone who breaks up with dieting and no longer allows the unattainable nonsense of diet culture to ruin their lives, undergoes a period of transition, so you are not alone. Be kind to your body as it gets used to this new way of living knowing that the transition is temporary but well worth it.

  2. Trust – Realize that during this transition, you are learning to trust your body again and your body is learning to trust you. One of the many things that dieting and/or food restriction does is strip away that trust. When we practice intuitive eating, we are re-learning how to listen to our body instead of following external rules and self-imposed restrictions. On the flip side, our bodies are learning to trust that they will continue to be honored and cared for by consistently getting enough of the foods that nourish and satisfy them. Rebuilding this trust takes time and patience, but it will happen.

  3. Know there is an end in sight – While it may seem like the weight gain will never end, believe and trust that it will. Understand that the body is sorting itself out by trying to find its ideal weight. It will draw a line and you will need to do your best to trust that your body can and will to do that. Caring for yourself by taking time to educate yourself about the mechanics of weight science can be very helpful and empowering. A great resource for this is the book Body Respect by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor.

  4. Rethink your old beliefs - Challenge the mechanical thinking and belief that weight is as simple as calories in vs. calories out. Unlike what we are told by commercial weight loss programs, TV, and social media ads, weight science is very complex, and many things may impact a person’s weight. The belief that fat and larger bodies are “bad” is the problem, not the weight itself. A paradigm shift is needed for healing not another diet.   

  5. Dump the scale – Do not step on the scale because that disrupts months of progress and may even lead you back to restrictive eating again. For those who have used a scale to control their food intake or assess their self-value based on their weight, stepping on the scale can be even more detrimental to them.

  6. Reduce body checking – Do not get caught up in obsessive mirror gazing, clothes checking, feeling for bones, etc. as that is detrimental to progress also. When the urge to body check surfaces, think of an affirming statement to get yourself back on track like, “May I trust that my weight is working itself out and doing its best to take care of me.” or “May I be kind to my body as it transitions and heals.”

  7. Practice patience – Remind yourself often that normalizing food and eating behaviors after years of dieting takes time and patience. There is no shortcut around this. Just keep noticing your shifting beliefs and observe them non-judgmentally.

  8. Keep your dieting memory green – Remember why you broke up with dieting in the first place. Make a list of the consequences you suffered as a result of dieting and make it accessible so you can re-read it often. The Intuitive Eating Workbook has some great exercises related to this that I recommend doing.

  9. Let go of the illusion – Let go of the illusion that you can control your weight long-term. Yes, while dieting you probably lost weight (most did this repeatedly), your long-term experience maintaining the weight was fleeting. Understanding that continued attempts to lose weight will do more harm than good because they will just put you back into the restrict/binge cycle.

  10. Mourn what was – Acknowledge that you may feel grief about the changes your body is experiencing. Make room for this grief while doing your best not to judge yourself for it. Repeatedly make room for the grief because it will continue to resurface from time-to-time. This is not easy when diet culture continually reinforces that smaller bodies are better, healthier and more attractive. Be aware of who is gaining financially when you are feeling negatively about yourself and your body. Understand that while it is natural to feel pressured by the demands of diet culture, continuing to practice intuitive eating and learning more about how manipulative diet culture can be will eventually help you to feel more confident, satisfied and joyful in your body. This will finally allow you to live your life to the fullest without the constant preoccupation with food and body dissatisfaction.

If you're tired of battling with your weight, fed up with the cycle of yo-yo dieting, and yearning to be free from your obsessive thinking about food and your body, schedule your complimentary Embrace Anti-Diet Living Connection Session.

We’ll get clear on where you are now, what you want instead, and what might be getting in the way of your success.

I’ll also share some powerful recommendations and resources to get you started on creating a peaceful relationship with your body and food.

Are You Making This Common Intuitive Eating Mistake?

One of the reasons why I love practicing Intuitive Eating is because it has given me freedom from food and negative body image. In fact, this is the main reason why clients seek out my services. They are ready to uncouple their self-worth to the number on the scale or the size of their jeans. They are ready to reclaim their lives and free up the time and energy they had previously used to count calories, fat grams, carbs, or “points”.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with intuitive eating, it’s a process that teaches you how to stop dieting and/or restricting food and start listening to your body’s internal wisdom as it relates to hunger and fullness, cravings, movement, etc.

Intuitive eating is the polar opposite of dieting because it does not have any rigid rules or “have tos”. Instead, it offers 10 principles to gently guide you out of the elusive and damaging diet culture and into food freedom.

One mistake I made when I first began practicing intuitive eating was treating the principles like rules. This is a very common experience for newbies and can be very problematic if not caught. Mistaking the principles for rules is no different than being on a diet; that rigidity still exists. After all, the primary purpose of practicing intuitive eating is to break free from diet culture so one can experience freedomflow, and flexibility in their relationships with food and body. This can only happen when we ditch the rules, rigidity, and harsh personal judgments and start listening and trusting our bodies again.

So, how do you know if you’re making this common mistake?

One of the best ways to recognize this is to observe your language. Being mindful of how you talk and think about the principles is key. Whenever words like alwaysneveronly, and should are used in conjunction with the intuitive eating principles, it is often a sign that rigidity, perfectionism, and food morality are present. This is the epitome of diet culture!

A few of the principles that I mistook for rules were related to hunger, fullness, and emotional eating. My clients often make the same mistakes. Over the years, I’ve heard many of my people say things like:

But I thought I should only eat when I’m hungry.


I’m only supposed to eat until I’m full, right?


I try to never eat for emotional reasons because that violates the principles.

But, when you begin to embody the principles you’ll likely discover this:

Sometimes you will eat when you’re not physically hungry just because something looks yummy and you don’t want to miss out.

Sometimes you will overeat.

Sometimes you will eat to soothe yourself.

And, it’s all okay! In fact, this is what Ellyn Satter, Registered Dietitian, family therapist, and author at the Ellyn Satter Institute describes as normal eating.

None of these examples mean that you’ve done anything “wrong” or that you’re not practicing intuitive eating the “right” way. It simply means you’re human. Intuitive eating isn’t about being “perfect” around food. It’s about developing a healthier relationship with food. The more tuned-in and open you are to listen to our body’s (hunger, fullness, satiety, etc.) and the less perfectionistic you try to be, the more relaxed and joyful your relationship with food will eventually become.

I will add that as you continue to nurture and heal this complex relationship, it’s best to make curiosity and self-compassion your daily co-pilots instead of self-judgement and perfectionism.

Please understand that if you feel that you’re frequently eating in a way that isn’t aligned with your intuition or feel that your eating is consistently uncontrollable, it’s best to seek guidance from a trained anti-diet professional

Judging ourselves for our perceived “mistakes” and/or beliefs that we’re not doing intuitive eating “right” keeps us stuck in diet culture. When these guidelines are used as gentle parameters and not as rules, it makes room for that freedom, flow, flexibility with eating that so many of us have yearned to have. It’s no longer about “perfect” eating. It’s about doing our best to listen to our body’s cues knowing that sometimes we may not. The good news is that with intuitive eating there’s room for all of this. This is part of the beauty and delight in practicing intuitive eating. It allows us to be human and enjoy a healthful and flexible way of eating that dieting never could.

5 Tips To Help Navigate Nighttime Eating

Do you find yourself wandering around the kitchen at night or even waking from a deep sleep to eat? Well, if so, know that you’re not alone! This is a common concern that I hear from my intuitive eating coaching clients.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with intuitive eating, it’s an eating philosophy that teaches you to ditch dieting and start to listen to your body’s wisdom as it relates to hunger and fullness, cravings, movement, etc.

The other day, a woman in my Facebook group (the No-Diet Sisterhood) posted a question about her nighttime eating woes. She was concerned because she was often eating late at night and it was usually done in the absence of physical hunger. And even though intuitive eating allows unconditional permission to eat all foods without rigid rules (being mindful of known food allergies or food sensitivities), its purpose is to relearn how to tune-in and listen to the bodies intuitive cues. Observing these cues helps to minimize chronic overeating, habitual and/or bored eating, or eating because of uncomfortable emotions. I want to be clear that if you’re physically hungry, eat. However, if your nighttime eating feels uncontrollable or compulsive, and is frequently done in the absence of physical hunger, keep reading to discover some of the reasons why this may be happening.

1.Restrictive eating — Remember, diet mentality is very insidious! Even if you’re not on a “diet” per say, it’s very possible that food restriction is still happening. If you’re denying yourself the foods you desire during the day, it’s not surprising that you want to eat at night. Whenever there is food restriction, overeating or binging eventually follows. The unwanted nighttime eating could just be side effect of the food restriction. 

Make the shift: Take some time before your meals/snacks to be sure you’re not denying yourself foods due to the number of calories, fats, carbs, etc. that they contain. Eat what looks appealing to you without restriction. If giving yourself permission to eat all foods is frightening to you (which it commonly is for dieters), understand that this can be a very complex issue and support is often needed to move past this. Know that the risk of not addressing this fear will keep you stuck in diet mentality indefinitely and never allow you to fully embrace intuitive eating.

2.Not eating enough — One of the more common reasons why people eat at night is because they’re not eating enough food during the day. Sometimes this is due to fear of weight gain and/or lingering diet mentality. However, it could also be because their work and/or family schedules are so hectic that it interferes with making adequate time for nourishing and consistent eating. 

Make the shift: It’s important to realize that taking time to adequately nourish and fuel the body is an essential part of self-care. Believe me, I can relate. I’m a mom, wife, and an entrepreneur and know how hectic life can be sometimes. However, making a concerted effort to care for our bodies by feeding them consistently with nourishing foods is important and necessary in managing our moods, our energy and performance levels, and unwanted nighttime eating.

3.Satisfaction factor — Consider food satisfaction. When you’re eating, ask yourself if the foods you’re eating are satisfying you. If not, this could also cause nighttime foraging. Remember, while being mindful of hunger and fullness is an integral part in practicing intuitive eating, eating satisfying foods is equally important. If the foods you’re eating are leaving you wanting more (even when you’re full), this is often an indication that they aren’t satisfying you. 

Make the shift: Take the time to experiment with foods to see what makes your belly happy. Maybe it’s adding more fat to a meal, like avocado or mayonnaise. Perhaps it’s eating more carbs during lunch. Whatever it is, find your satisfaction sweet spot as often as you can when deciding what to eat.

4.Stress management — While some stress is natural, excessive, consistent stress can be debilitating. The funny thing about stress is that when we’re busy and in our daily routine, we don’t often think about it too much because there isn’t time. That’s usually when we’re in autopilot mode. However, when things slow down at night, the emotions often come flooding in and often, the food follows. 

Make the shift: As an act of self-care, check-in with your body during the day. See if you notice any part(s) of your body that are feeling tense (common areas are neck, shoulders, between eye brows). If your body is showing signs of stress, take a few minutes to meditate (try the free phone app Insight Timer). Sometimes just closing your eyes and taking a few cleansing breaths is enough to help clear your mind and reduce stress. You’d be surprised how this can shift the direction of your day.

5.Adequate sleep — If you’re not getting adequate sleep, this can really mess with your hunger hormones — leptin and ghrelin. As this study indicates, “Participants with short sleep had reduced leptin and elevated ghrelin. These differences in leptin and ghrelin are likely to increase appetite…”. So, lack of sleep could also be a contributing factor to nighttime eating.

Make the shift: I’ll be the first to say that sleep eludes us sometimes. It’s natural. However, if it’s consistent, it needs to be looked at more closely because the potential ramifications of poor sleep can lead to serious health issues. Taking the time to discern what may be causing the sleepless nights is key to overcoming it. A thoughtful and compassionate look at your life may be in order. Stress is often a contributing factor with sleep issues, so reviewing number four above is important.

As you can see, there could be multiple reasons why unwanted nighttime eating occurs. You could be experiencing one of these things or it could be a combination of things that are contributing to your nighttime eating. While it may take time to unravel the reasons why there is nighttime eating, the benefits of doing so are worth it. After all, feeling uncontrollable around food can cause additional stress, and no one needs that! Being self-compassionate, curious, and patient while you figure this out will go a long way in changing this behavior. Investing this time to understand what may be going on beneath the surface can seriously impact the quality of your life, including your relationship with your food and body.