intuitive eating

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.

Have You Ever Tried the Self-Love Diet?

I believe that nourishing and caring for our bodies, in whatever way we deem appropriate for ourselves, is an act of self-love. However, more often than not, when I hear people speaking of self-love as it relates to their relationships with food and body, it’s often in a restrictive, rigid, guilt-ridden, and judgmental manner.  

For example, phrases like, "I love myself too much to eat _____ because it’s X (processed, fried, etc.) or has too many X (calories, sugars, etc.). While some may not eat _____ because it doesn’t make them feel well, most of the time it’s because they fear it will make them gain weight and/or get fat(ter). Or, because they believe they’re “addicted” to the food and won’t be able to stop eating it. And some won’t eat ________ because eating _______ isn’t “healthy”.

Others will say things like, "I don't emotionally eat anymore because I love myself too much for that.". And, when people do eat for emotional reasons (which the majority of us do from time-to-time) they usually feel ashamed and judge themselves harshly because they believe if they loved themselves enough, they wouldn’t need to use food as a “crutch” to cope with life’s ups and downs. 

Before I discovered intuitive eating, I used to believe that relating to food this way was an act of self-love too. Now I see that I was just following a Self-Love Diet

I feel it’s appropriate to call it a Self-Love Diet because a diet is when we are purposely trying to lose or control our weight by eating and/or exercising in a certain manner. This is done by physically restricting food or calories and/or by using exercise to compensate for additional calories eaten. When the rigid rules of diets become impossible to follow (which is inevitable), we’re left to feel guilty and shameful about our perceived dieting failures and about our food choices, lack of exercise, and “emotional” and/or binge eating, etc. Of course, research indicates that it’s the restrictive eating behaviors that are causing the majority of these eating difficulties in the first place, but most don’t realize this fact.  

It’s not surprising that many people are on a Self-Love Diet because on the surface, it seems like a nice idea, right? After all, love is one of the strongest human emotions. So, if we could harness it for the purposes of having the body that we’ve always wanted, we should be able to love ourselves thin, maintain our weight throughout all the phases of our lives, and/or finally get our eating “under control”. In theory, it sounds like it would make sense, but the reality is that diets aren't successful long-term which is why over 85% of people who diet gain the weight back, plus more, within 3-5 years. 

The truth is, in this case, self-love is being conflated with control. Self-love is supposed to make us feel good and uplift us. A Self-Love Diet is having the opposite effect because it’s nearly impossible to follow long-term, causes self-judgment, guilt, and shame. None of these emotions make us feel good about ourselves so how could that be self-love? 

I don’t think self-love is a lost cause for caring for ourselves, but I would like to redefine self-love from a weight-neutral, anti-diet perspective.

  • Self-love is learning to listen to your body and honor it as often as possible.

  • Self-love is letting go of harmful beliefs that eating needs to look a certain way or it's wrong or harmful.

  • Self-love is trusting that your body will work its weight out on its own without trying to manipulate or control it.

  • Self-love is sometimes eating even when you're not hungry.

  • Self-love is moving your body in a way that brings you joy and isn't used to punish.

  • Self-love is knowing that we don't need anyone to define the parameters around what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. ⠀⠀

  • Self-love is eating satisfying foods whenever you're able.

  • Self-love is sometimes eating for emotional eating reasons without feeling shameful.

  • Self-love is caring for your body in a way that is sustainable and defined on your own terms.

  • Self-love is acknowledging that you have individual and unique needs and you can decide how to best satisfy them.

Now that's the kind of self-love that will make us feel good about ourselves and take better care of ourselves. And, this redefined form of self-love is more sustainable and will likely result in a peaceful and flexible relationship with food.

If after you’ve read this message you realize that you are following a Self-Love Diet and want to change that, you can! Remember, it’s never too late to look at things from a fresh, new perspective. Now that you have this awareness, you can start moving toward a peaceful relationship with food by practicing intuitive eating! 

I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever followed a Self-Love Diet?

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.

Will the Calorie Counting Ever End?


One of the questions I often hear from my clients is, “Will the calorie counting ever end?” Before I continue, I will say that if you were accustomed to counting “points” or macros or any other tallying (like number of daily starches or fruits, etc.), this blog will help you too.

First, for ex-dieters, counting is a very common behavior, so please know that you’re not alone if you’re still doing this. Second, changing this behavior is definitely possible, but it will take time because it is an automatic mental habit.

Why is it important to change this behavior?

Changing this behavior is important because counting disconnects you from eating intuitively. Intuitive eating is about moving away from reliance on external cues to guide our food choices and instead relying on our body’s internal cues. When you’re counting, it’s very likely influencing your food choices based on the number of X (X=calories, points, macros, etc.) and that will prevent you from listening to your body’s internal cues. This is just another form of deprivation and likely still an attempt to control and/or manipulate your weight. Again, all normal and expected ex dieting behavior, but not intuitive. Continuing with these behaviors will prolong your suffering and prevent you from healing your relationship with food.

How to stop it?

Simply willing yourself to stop the behavior isn’t enough to stop it. Like using willpower to stay on a diet, it may prevent you from eating _________ for a little while, but it’s not sustainable. The way to stop counting is to continue practicing intuitive eating.

What can you expect during this process?

As you begin to ease into intuitive eating, you’ll likely worry that you’re still counting. In fact, you may even be annoyed or irritated by the constant counting because you know that counting is a dieting tool and you’ve given up dieting! You may even feel shameful about this but there is no need to. Just because you’re now practicing intuitive eating, this doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to give up old behaviors so quickly. This is a process that takes time, patience and copious amounts of self-compassion.

Manage your expectations by acknowledging that you’ll still make some choices based on this tallying. Take comfort in knowing that the more you start to rely on your body to gauge your eating, such as hunger, fullness, and satisfaction, the more you’ll see that the tallying begins to dissipate. Start to notice how different your body feels both physically and emotionally when you honor it by eating what you truly desire.

Next, you’ll probably still notice the tallying but you won’t make your food choices based on that information. Begin to notice how much more relaxed you’re starting to feel around food as you listen to your body more. Are foods that used to be off limits due to high/low counts no longer seem as intimidating to you now?

Lastly, continue to assess how you feel after you eat. Consider the following questions:

Are you feeling more satisfied with your food choices overall?

Are you feeling less distracted during the day because you’re nourishing your body with the amount and types of food that your body needs to function at its best?

Are you trusting that your body knows what it needs and that by listening to it, you will feel better?

If you’ve answered yes or mostly yes to these questions, my guess is that the tallying has likely become less important to you or has stopped entirely. If it hasn’t, keep flexing your intuitive eating muscles by continuing to tune-in and listen to your body. The stronger your intuitive eating practice gets, the weaker the tallying will be until it eventually drifts off entirely.

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.