“Okay, intuitive eating sounds great and all but will it make me lose weight?!”
This is one of the most common questions I hear regarding intuitive eating.
And I get it, too! We live in a society that feeds us propaganda suggesting that body size determines worthiness.
The diet culture we live in profits off of getting us to believe that we must shrink our bodies in order to be happy.
But is it even possible to sustain weight loss long-term?
According to the current body of research on the long-term effects of dieting, 95% of people who lose weight on diets regain all the weight (and often even more) within 5 years.Mann T. et al (2007). Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: Diets are not the answer. Am Psychologist. 62(3):220-233.
How insane is that statistic?! It blew me away the first time I learned about it in the book, Anti Diet, by a fellow Intuitive Eating RD, Christy Harrison.
So why is intentional weight loss so difficult to maintain?
The answer has to do with a concept called set-point weight. Research continues to prove that humans are biologically wired to maintain a certain set-point weight range.
In other words, all humans have a predetermined weight range in which their body strives to maintain at all times. This is the weight the body is happiest at; the weight where homeostasis, or phisoglocial balance, is achieved.
Dieting/ intentional pursuit of weight loss often causes a person to dip below their body’s set point range. As a result, the body drives up hunger cues and slows metabolism in an effort to get back to the setpoint range, where it’s happiest and functions most optimally.
So, in trying to keep the weight off (aka hold your body below its homeostatic range) you will forever be swimming upstream; restricting, counting calories, and obsessively working out.
According to set-point weight theory, your body size and shape are largely predetermined…but that’s not how diet culture makes it seem. Diet culture feeds you propaganda suggesting that you can simply change your body size by sheer willpower (i.e if you want it bad enough, if you eat clean enough if you are disciplined enough).
When in reality, your body size has little to do with personal willpower and much more to do with genetics and other factors beyond your control.
So you might be wondering, what will happen to my weight when I become an intuitive eater?
To be fully transparent, we cant really be sure. Diets promise you a certain amount of weight loss in a certain amont of time.
As an intuitive eating practitioner, I cannot promise you anything.
I can, however, say this:
If you enter the intuitive eating journey above your set point range (maybe from a history of binging or consistently eating past the point of comfortable fullness) intuitive eating will, in time, result in weight loss to restore you to your set point range.
If you enter the intuitive eating journey below your set point range (perhaps from a history of restriction) intuitive eating will, in time, result in some weight gain to restore you to your set point range.
Ultimately, intuitive eating works to restore your body to it’s happy weight- the weight at which it performs physiological functions most optimally.
But what if you’re not happy with your set-point weight? What if you still wished you could be smaller??
These are perfectly valid thoughts. The question becomes, at what cost are you willing to have a smaller body?
The cost of your time, energy, and happiness? The cost of your ability to be present with loved ones? The cost of your ability to be spontaneous and flexible?
This is a question for you to sit with.
Interested in learning how to achieve your set point weight through intuitive eating? Click here to learn more about my counseling services.
Last modified: July 14, 2021
I’m excited for you that your dream is becoming a reality!
Thanks so much, Sig!!