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I just want to eat normally, but will I gain weight?

"I just want to eat like a normal person"...does that sound like you?

The fear of weight gain is the answer I receive 99% of the time when I ask: what is holding you back from stopping dieting if you know it leads to overeating.

Trust me, I 100% get it.

Totally been there.

Ultimately, wanting to lose weight was the reason we went on a diet in the first place. And that’s what society tells us we need to do if we want to lose weight. and we want the weight gone as soon as possible so that we can eat "normally again".

So stopping dieting just seems counterproductive, almost as if we’ve given up on ourselves even.

But what does "normal" even mean?

So recently I chatted with a few new clients and here's what they answered:

  • Normal portions, normal foods

  • Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack

  • ​Not be controlled by food and not have to count calories or macros or points every day

  • Not feeling guilty after eating

  • Eating, enjoying the food and be in control

  • Able to enjoy food at the restaurant and on holiday

  • No rules

  • Able to eat all foods

More and more influencers are now hailing "intuitive eating" as the solution to stopping overeating.

While intuitive eating sounds great in the ideal world once you've got your eating under control, and while it sounds like "normal eating", it shouldn't be your next step right now...you simply can't jump from being in a diet-binge cycle to eating without rules all of a sudden.

Why?

Let's start with what intuitive eating really is:

  • Eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full.

  • No rules, no restriction. Listen to your body.

  • Eat whatever you want. Unconditional permission to eat. Let your body go back to its "natural weight".

The idea behind is great: to get away from the all-or-nothing mentality that causes overeating or even binge eating.

But...this is A LOT more difficult than it sounds.

After years or even decades of dieting and overeating, your body's hunger and fullness signals are skewed. Years of putting your body under the stress of dieting has wrecked havoc on your hormones and cravings. Most people's reaction (especially after years of dieting and restricting and overeating) is really eat anything and everything...and let it get out of control. For a lot of people, hunger and satiety depend on lots of factors--taste, feelings, surroundings, memories...

Even worse, the worst fear happens: weight gain...

(oh and btw, have you seen those influencers that tell you to love your body even if you've gained weight and be grateful about it and just accept it?

*eye roll*

Like seriously?!

Well, I mean you should love yourself regardless of your weight, but this doesn't mean you have to gain weight and give up on your goals and continue to feel out of control around food!!)

Listen to your body when your body's signals are not even accurate... Years of dieting has left you not knowing what to eat, how much to eat, when to eat, or even how to eat... A lot of people even use not being "hungry enough" to put off eating for as long as possible, but then they end up binging, because by the time they sense that they're "hungry enough", they're already starving.

Those are just some of the reasons why intuitive eating should not be your next step.

So if dieting causes binge eating and ditching all the rules all at once causes binge eating too, then what should you focus on if you want to take back control and lose weight?

Here are a few simple mindset and behavioral shifts to make instead to start with: Start with a flexible structure A flexible structure like 3 meals and 2 snacks mimics how a non-dieter would eat and helps you re-connect with your body signals. Until your body can trust you again, listening to your (messed-up) hunger cues and crazy cravings (aka intuitive eating) is just a recipe for disaster.

Accept that there is no perfect diet No diet is perfect. No one ever eats perfectly. There's no such thing as a "perfect diet". No one even knows what a "perfect diet" means. Even health professionals eat chocolate, bread, pasta, processed foods.

Normal eating means overeating at times. We've all experienced this:

You were on a diet, and something happened, like a stressful day at work, or dinner with friend...and you went over your calorie limit..then you sought more food because you've already "failed" your diet...and suddenly, it spiraled out of control. This spiral is triggered by overeating and makes you feel like a failure, wishing you stopped overeating at your meal instead of inhaling the entire kitchen and feeling guilty, embarrassed and regret even more. It's normal to overeat at times.

It's normal to eat when you're happy

(think: birthday parties when everyone is enjoying cake and you want a slice too even though you're not hungry), or going to a restaurant and the food is sooo good and you just want more

It's normal for your eating to vary day-to-day. There's no need to micromanage each and every meal. As our daily energy requirements vary, as our environment changes, our energy needs change, our appetite changes and so does our eating. As your body learns to trust you, it craves balance and will let you know what it wants and how much it wants.

Learn to look at the bigger picture Diets teach you to obsess over every little thing--counting calories, how many almonds you can have in a snack, weighing yourself every day and letting the number dictate your day, how much you can have each meal...no wonder we've been taught to think one mouthful of "bad" food is like a sin...

No wonder that causes us to spiral out of control...

But weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint...something you do day in and day out...but if focusing on small details like going over your calorie limit is going to stress you out and lead to overeating, then it's counterproductive.

Practise flexibility in day-to-day life Are you an all-or-nothing dieter? Next time as soon you have the "screw it" thought, practise saying "I choose to practise flexibility". This was such a powerful statement when I was struggling. Thoughts lead to action, and by replacing unhelpful statements with different intentions and thoughts, we act differently. Practise flexibility in not just your diet, but also your day-to-day life. Not everything is black or white. Thinking in the grey zone can get you different results too.

Focus on nourishment of both the mind and the body Meeting your body's physical needs helps build that trust again and therefore reduce cravings, improve mood, energy and health. Once your body trusts you again, your body craves all sorts of foods again (no need to worry about just craving "junk" food) ... both foods that nourish your body and foods that you enjoy

Not meeting your emotional needs leads to emotional eating. The things in life that nourish your mind are as important as physical nourishment. Health is not just on a physical level and everything in life can affect our health. Relationships, career, finances, family, friends... they can all impact our mood, and if you're prone to emotional eating, then you should focus on other areas of life that nourish your mind.

It's common misconception that once we lose weight, our lives magically improve...we suddenly feel more confident, we feel happy, can start wearing cute clothes, will enjoy holidays etc... No, we don't have to wait till we reach our goals to do these things. Happiness is not a number on the scale. The happiness of reaching your goal weight is short-lived (and that's why a lot of people lose the motivation to keep up with their "diet" and gain their weight back). Start doing things that you enjoy, celebrate achievements, big or small. Create the life that you want NOW. Caring for your emotional needs helps you reduce emotional eating and increase joy in life!

Celebrate small wins The end-goal can seem far away sometimes and if that's all you ever focus on, you can lose focus and motivation easily. Success is not overnight. It's achieved by consistent small, simple practices. That's actually good news, because small, simple practices are a lot easier to build upon. The more we start adapting to this mindset of celebrating small steps, the more progress we’ll make and that will get us further in our journey.

Start to look for your own daily habits: the small, healthy practices that may seem totally ordinary and mundane, but when focused on and done consistently, can lead to dramatic results.

Focus on 1 thing at a time.

Which shift are you starting with?





Resources

1.The 3+2+0 Guide to Stop Overeating and Lose Weight for Good




2. If you're ready to fast-track your progress and say goodbye to yo-yo dieting, emotional eating, constant snacking, and binge eating and finally lose weight for good, make sure you check out the Stop Binge Eating Program, which gives you a proven, step-by-step roadmap to help you lose weight for good without feeling deprived!



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