(154) How do I stop wanting to lose weight?

Along your Food Peace™ journey you may have connected with how you were raised around food and how to treat your body. Did you learn early on that only thin bodies were acceptable? That we MUST diet in order to keep our weight low and letting go was a failure? Not surprising then that the desire to lose weight will continue. How do you stop wanting to lose weight? How do you accept your body? Listen now to the latest Love Food podcast episode for insight along this part of your journey.

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This episode is brought to you by my courses: PCOS and Food Peace and Dietitians PCOS and Food Peace. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how.

I want to share the work going on within Decolonizing Fitness. The person behind it, Ilya Parker, is a trans person of color Physical Therapist Assistant and Medical Exercise Coach with over 13 years of rehabilitative and functional training experience. He is a social justice advocate and educator whose work centers gender, racial and healing justice.

He decided to merge his love for restorative based movement practices and community advocacy to create Decolonizing Fitness, LLC; which is a social justice platform that provides affirming fitness services, community education and apparel in support of body diversity. Check out www.decolonizingfitness.com.

This episode’s Dear Food letter:

Dear Food,
I’ve been struggling with you for almost my entire life.  When I was little I remember watching my Dad go on diet after diet and rigidly refusing to go up a pant size.  It looked so miserable but I also wanted to be like him.  I also knew (from what my parents had told me) that I was getting fat.  So when I was 8, I went on my first diet and began counting calories.  Later, around age 15, I began to reject dieting and wanted to relax and eat what I wanted.  This made my parents uncomfortable and eventually they began to mandate that I diet and exercise.  I began to sneak you up to my bedroom and eat you in the middle of the night.  I was riddled with shame, guilt, and self-hatred.  Even when I was outside of my parent’s control, I carried their voices of judgment with me and continued dieting throughout most of my adult life.
Now I’m 31 and I’ve tried so hard to redefine my relationship with you and my body.  I’ve seen a counselor and nutritionist who come from an intuitive eating approach.  I was fortunate enough to be part of a 10-week intuitive eating group and I loved it!  But a job change caused me to move away from those resources and now I feel stuck.  I’m heavier than I’ve ever been in my entire life and I’m so ashamed of my body.  I don’t even recognize myself when I look in the mirror.  While the dream of being smaller is still tempting, the thought of dieting repulses me.  I know dieting isn’t the answer, but I can’t seem to get the hang of intuitive eating.  I feel like I’m making zero progress on my journey to food peace.
Often I still feel like that rebellious teenager who would overeat (whether it made her feel good or not) just to spite her parents.  I still want to lose weight but I know that intuitive eating isn’t suppose to be about that.  How do I stop the incessant desire to be smaller when it’s been a part of my life for so long?
I’m also feeling scared because sometimes listening to my body and choosing to stop eating when I’m full/satisfied or not eat something because my inner wisdom is telling me that I don’t truly want it reminds me of the rules and restrictions I lived under for so long.  Intellectually I know that responding to my body and inner wisdom is different than dieting.  But emotionally they sometimes feel the same.  Eventually I end up still engaging in rebellious eating even though I’m not sure what/who I’m rebelling against.  Then I feel like I’ve fallen off track and give up and shame takes over.  I know this is a diet mentality but I can’t seem to shake it!  I’m not sure how to interrupt this cycle and stop thinking of intuitive eating through this dieting lens.  I want to move forward in my food and body peace journey but I’m not sure how to get past this hurtle.  I just want to find peace with you and my body but I’m not sure what the next step should be.
Stuck In The Cycle

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

What is symbolic hunger?


Not too long ago, I received this question from a reader:

Learning the different types of hungers has been helpful yet I struggle most with eating when I am not hungry. Like I KNOW I am not hungry yet I eat the food anyway. Especially really tasty food. Or sometimes it isn’t even that great and I am just watching TV after work then notice I have gone through a bag of chips. I don’t remember tasting them!

Can you relate to this? All of us experience eating when not physically hungry and it is a part of normal eating. Eating outside of hunger many times throughout the day, though, will affect health and the way we cope with life. At times it may seem like eating outside of hunger happens for no reason and I encourage you to dig deeper. There is meaning. I believe it symbolizes an unmet need.

Dr. Barbara Birsinger RD refers to eating outside of physical hunger as symbolic hunger. She is the author of Intuitive Eating Seven Step Process. She also trains professionals on a Food Decoding tool that discovers eating particular foods with feelings and needs while connecting a person with healing. I am grateful she has trained me in this and allowed me to better understand symbolic hungers.

What is symbolic hunger? That depends. To uncover what it means for you, I encourage you to practice kind nonjudgemental curiosity. Instead of saying, “I shouldn’t have eaten that I wasn’t even hungry!” try something different. Using should to describe your eating pattern is maladaptive…meaning it won’t get you anywhere but in a funk and dead end. Call out that should and step back. Consider a bigger picture. Changing your frame of reference here will open you up to the meaning behind this eating style: its symbol. Knowing this symbol will move you important steps further.

While you are stepping back from the should moments, ask yourself these important questions:

  • What was I experiencing right before I started symbolically eating? (Were you speaking with anyone, thinking about an event, trying to relax, etc. No right or wrong here. Just consider the possibilities.)
  • Was I feeling anything uncomfortable? (Were you stressed, angry, ashamed, frustrated, bored, happy, or lonely?)
  • When I feel these feelings, what do I really need?

Once you start moving the shoulds out of your way, a kind curiosity will allow you to acknowledge your symbols. Taking the symbols for what they are and examining them for what they are worth will bring you closer to your unmet needs. Holding these needs in your hands and close to your heart will allow you to consider your steps to heal. I find clients uncover numerous unmet needs all requiring time and attention. This means I don’t want you to rush through this! Understanding your symbolic eating will be a vital part of your recovery.

Next time you find yourself eating outside of physical hunger or craving to do so, do not run away. Say “welcome!” to the symbolic hunger. Your body is trying to tell you something important. Your job now is to listen.

julie_lovefood_secondary_rgbDo you enjoy listening to podcasts and want to ditch diets? Check out mine: it was made for you!

How do I get off the diet ⇢ binge cycle? {guest Judith Matz}

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Are you stuck at diet rock bottom? Do you feel shame about your food behaviors and your body? Are you struggling with the diet/binge cycle, looking for support on this food and body peace journey, and trying to break free from the diet mentality? Listen now for some solutions to these challenges.

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Episode’s Key Points:

  • The common experience with food and body struggles is SHAME. That shame can prevent people from getting the help they need!
  • Diet rock bottom: the realization that diets just aren’t going to work anymore.
  • Judith Matz joins to give us a therapist’s perspective!
  • The diet story is always the same, but everyone has their own unique journey. You are not alone!!
  • One comment can lead to a lifelong feeling of shame about the body.
  • People are often stuck in the diet/binge cycle for so long!!
  • By sharing our stories and experiences, we can break out of the shame.
  • Before we start bringing in and stocking up on our forbidden foods, we have to connect with our hunger and fullness cues and rebuild those muscles.
  • When we say we can’t have a food, we are more prone to eating it all!! On the flip side, when we make forbidden foods “normal” and give ourselves permission, they become less special. Those forbidden foods become just like any other!
  • Sometimes we need some help on this journey, whether that’s a group, a therapist, or a dietitian trained in intuitive eating.
  • Food peace is so hard because we live in a world that moralizes food, adheres to the thin ideal, and equates size to health. This work can feel impossible if you don’t have a great support system behind you!
  • Understanding weight stigma is a huge part of this process!! We internalize beliefs about weight and worthiness… letting go of these beliefs about the body can be the hardest part of this process.
  • Weight discrimination hurts everyone, and affects all of us negatively!! It’s a social justice issue that we all have to work hard to change in our culture so that we can find body peace.
  • We pass messages down about food and body to our kids all the time that lead them into the diet/binge cycle, but there are ways to stop this pattern!

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD.