Do you want to lose weight? Being a particular size or weight was irrelevant as a child. In today’s world, we are feeling more and more pressured to be different. To be lighter, smaller or conform to a certain size to be accepted or to fit in with society’s norms.

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Sure, sometimes through our adult years we do put on weight, for a variety of reasons. Some reasons may be problematic and may need intervention by a doctor or professional like a Registered Dietitian (like me) but there is no written law that we have to be a certain height, weight, size for our age or circumstance.

How we feel and our overall health should be enough of an indicator for healthy living. In this post I’m going to discuss the harmful effects of losing weight, losing weight fast and the alternative to never dieting again by learning (or re-learning) intuitive eating.

Why lose weight?

And what’s the rush? You often see online how some weight loss providers can help you lose weight fast. It can lure you in to shed a few pounds for an upcoming event like a wedding or summer holiday when you hope to be wearing a beautiful new swim suit.

The question that you should be asking yourself is how do I feel? Am I healthy? (Often a blood test can confirm that you are in fact healthy for your age and your body is not suffering in any way or lacking in any nutrients.)

PRE & POST Pregnancy

One of the most worrying things I see as a dietitian is women wanting to get back to their pre-baby weight. Some women have the genetic makeup to not even put on extra weight when they become pregnant.

women showing pregnancy stomach

Other women may put on all the weight of the new baby plus more. That plus more may be hard to budge after baby is born but really shouldn’t be your focus. Looking after your baby, practicing gentle nutrition and getting daily movement (which you will without even noticing with a newborn baby) should be your focus.

Emotional Eating

Overeating, binge eating or emotional eating might be another reason why you’ve put on weight. It’s not the food that’s the problem. You’ll most probably find that there is another underlying issue at play like depression, relationship issues, stress and not understanding the difference between physical and emotional hunger.

Medical Reasons

There are also medical reasons why you might have to lose weight such as early onset of Diabetes 2, a high risk of cardiovascular disease or other issues that could be managed better by a positive lifestyle change (which will naturally include weight loss).

recording diabetes and relevant equipment

All of the above may be a valid reason for weight loss but through years of the diet industry dictating the need to lose weight, and us putting our bodies through food restrictions, we have lost nature’s way of learning to eat when we are hungry, stop eating when we are full and move more. This healthier lifestyle is called intuitive eating.

Why are diets harmful?

People who have been on a diet are more than likely to have been on more than one. You would think that if you were to restrict foods, exercise more (so there was a calorie deficit) that you would lose weight, once and for all, and never go on a diet again. Wrong!

Worldwide, about 42 percent of adults are trying to lose weight, and 23 percent are trying to maintain their weight, according to a January 2017 study in ​Obesity Reviews.

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Another interesting statistic is that about 20% of people are successful at maintaining their weight loss over the long-term (for at least one year) and about 80% of people are not successful at keeping their weight off over the long-term. If weight loss organizations were truly successful at helping people lose weight, they would’ve gone out of business years ago.

upset woman sitting on floor in front of scales

It’s a huge industry with an estimated 45 million Americans dieting each year and spending $33 billion annually on weight loss products. But all this dieting, restricting food and a never ending cycle of dieting can be harmful for our overall health.

Diets imply restriction. Psychologically, dietary restraint can lead to greater reactivity to food cues, increased cravings and disinhibition, and overeating and binge eating. Biologically, dieting can lead to unhealthy changes in body composition, hormonal changes, reduced bone density, menstrual disturbances, and lower resting energy expenditure.

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Not only that, and probably one of the worst aspects of dieting (and failing to either lose weight or keep it off), is the feeling of being a failure and often putting that weight you lost back on, and then some. It’s like your entire self worth depends on the number on the scales or the tag on your clothes which is totally untrue.

There’s a real winner’s attitude when you’ve lost weight that should be celebrated and when you’ve remained the same weight or put on weight, there’s a feeling of failure. A feeling of not being good enough, which starts the whole cycle of binge eating and ending the diet all over again. This is not healthy.

This is where ending diet culture and learning how to be an intuitive eater can help you create a healthy lifestyle and never diet again. Remember, your purpose and worth is not measured by weight.

Rather focus on sustainable long term healthy living strategies like healthy eating habits with a variety of food choices without unnecessary restrictions will make a comprehensive diet and maintaining a healthy weight a true part of our way to live like nature intended.

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is a term used to help you go back to nature’s way of identifying your hunger cues and learning to eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full.

woman eating cake in front of refrigerator

Intuitive eating also helps you realize that there are no restrictions around food. No food is off limits. Food isn’t the enemy here. You should enjoy food freedom and not exclude yourself from events or situations because of food.

Learning how to eat intuitively helps you get back to making sure you are eating healthier foods by practicing gentle nutrition, by recognizing the need to move more, by doing a physical activity you enjoy and to enjoy all foods in moderation. It reduces the risk of over eating or craving certain foods that might contribute to weight gain because no food is off limits.

get your own copy of intuitive eating & intuitive eating workbook by evelyn tribole and elyse resch

When you know that you have a healthy body, are eating food you enjoy and moving more there is no need for you to diet ever again. Our bodies naturally store fat throughout various stages of our lives, especially women through their reproductive years.

As you age, you will need to adjust the foods you eat to include more nutrient dense foods that will help you live a longer life and one that is free from disease and illness.

How do I learn about intuitive eating?

I saw a need with clients I serve in my practice to create an online space for women to come together in a group setting to discuss their dieting and associated health challenges together.

Studies have proven that participating in programs with a group of like minded friends may result in more health improvements than if you do the same program alone. The key to long-term success is having others to talk to who are facing the same challenges as you.

Together, you can make healthy choices as you work to create new habits. Support groups with participants who are all on similar health journeys together can offer companionship on top of accountability.

And that’s where I come in. Relying on my 20+ years of experience as a Registered Dietitian and facing my own struggles with stress eating and now being a single mom to 3 children under 10, who better to guide you.

I do this with my group program called EXPANSION. Groups fill up fast so be sure to enquire as soon as possible. Most health insurance providers accept claims from my program. If you have any queries, you can always book a free 30 minute consultation with me to discuss the various options.

Conclusion

Scientific evidence has proven that diets just don’t work. If they did diet companies would be out of business. Society has led us to believe that we need to be a certain weight, size or shape to be accepted when that’s not the case at all. Our worth isn’t defined by weight or how big your waist is. Your worth and overall health is measured by how you feel and how well your body functions. Learning to eat intuitively, like nature intended, is a much better form of creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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