LiveBlog/Ditch The Diet: Eat Intuitively

The Ditch The Diet: Eat Intuitively panel, Karen C.L Anderson of Before & After: A Real Life Story, Katie Heddleston of Healthy Heddleston, Christie Inge of Nourishing Circle and Shauna Reid of The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl, is all about introducing you to an alternative view.

Shauna: Do you feel tired of your self-esteem being connected to the number on scale?

We are here today as four women who eat food, talking about our bodies, food and our relationship with food.

Intuitive Eating is not another diet; it is not the latest, greatest magic pill.  Intuitive Eating is not a reason to binge.  It’s not an excuse to perpetuate your unhealthy eating habits.  IE is not a vegan, gluten free diet, unless that is what works for you body.  It is not an excuse to abuse your body with food.  We make food choices that are not in tune with our bodies.  You make the decision to eat a cheeseburger, a slice of pizza or a cupcake, but with Intuitive Eating you can eat all of this and not feel guilty.

What IE is, is an attitude and life change.  Intuitive Eating is about honoring your body and removing all of the labels.

Shauna:  I started my blog in 2001, on a mission to lose 175 lbs. It took me a few years of dieting all the time.  I then wrote a book, and the next three years things started to unravel.  While losing the weight I never looked at my relationship with food.  I started reading books, and I sought counseling.  I had to change my relationship with food and look at the symptoms underneath.  It is now 10 years after starting my blog, I have come to realize that it is not about dieting but about living a great life and having great relationships.

Christie: I have been on weight watchers 4000 times, and yoyo diets my whole adult life.  I discovered Dr. Oz and his book You, on a Diet.  Then I quit weight watchers and read a book on Intuitive Eating.  My blog is about my journey with Intuitive Eating.

Karen:  I started my blog 2 years ago when I hit diet rock bottom.  I had to lose the idea of weight loss to start losing weight. I get tons of emails and comments from people who want to lose weight.

I was overweight and obese my whole adult life.  In 2005 I sought counseling, joined, and with running I lost 55 lbs in 1.5 years.  Due to my weight loss, eDiets wanted to do a success story and Fitness magazine put me on the cover.  I started to identify myself with my weight loss.  I was judging myself worth due to the number on the scale.  I then regained half of my weight lost, back.  I didn’t want to be on diets anymore.  I started writing my blog to see if I could love myself to thinness.  With my blog I tried to practice the self acceptance. Eventually, I lost 6” from my waist.  Intuitive Easting is more about self acceptance.

Katie:  I started my blog a little over a year ago.  It is mainly about my life as a Registered Dietician, my journey with running, and yummy recipes.

I have an Intuitive Eating story I would like to share.  I didn’t seek it…it found me.  In high school, that Atkins diet was popular, so I gave it a try.  I was vegetarian who did Adkins, and I lost 20-25lbs that I didn’t need to lose.  I started to use laxatives.  Then a boyfriend came into the picture, a good one.  He helped me learn to love myself.  By loving me so much I learned to love myself.  I gave him my pills and never touched them again.  Self love is a very important part of Intuitive Eating.  I gained weight back gradually that I needed and I stopped being an abuser.

Karen: Does self acceptance play a role in your journey and how?

What I want to express is that when I started in 2005, I got a counselor.  I called a friend who was a psychologist and told her that I wanted to be hypnotized.  The counselor used EFT (emotional freedom technique), a technique where you tap your body and say something positive:  “even though I am overweight I can still accept myself”.  You have to practice self acceptance everyday.  It is not something you get in a day.  Once I lost the weight I stopped practicing and went back into a cycle of out of control thinking.  I think of self acceptance more than a lifestyle change; it’s a mind style change.

Shauna:  I was clinging onto the diet mentality.  I didn’t have the self acceptance.  I wanted to burn all of my Intuitive Eating books.  It wasn’t until I accepted the fact that I didn’t look like my after photo on my book, I had to look at myself and why I was thinking this way.  Self acceptance is like building a muscle.  If you don’t use it, you will lose it.

Christie:  For me it was a matter of not valuing myself.  i didn’t think I was a worth while human being.  It took to getting thin to realize that it wasn’t about lost weight.  After losing the weight, I still felt like shit about myself .  I realized it is a daily practice and not about the weight.

You have to keep battling the old thought patterns. I have to say “Thanks for showing up, but I don’t believe those things about myself.”  Intuitive Eating is about accepting yourself, breath by breath.

Katie:  I took me going to college to realize my attitude about food.  Self acceptance has made me more open with myself and acknowledging why I have done certain things.  It has helped other aspects of my life as well.  I am my biggest cheerleader.  We have the power to of being in control of how we feel.

Karen:  This doesn’t mean you won’t have a bad day.  It is about catching yourself sooner.  I could go weeks before I recognize but now it is a matter of recognizing without beating myself up.

Kristy:  Geneen Roth said, “The way we do food is the way we do everything.”  We can’t focus on the weight loss, because then we can’t focus on the other stuff.  That other stuff is what ends you up in an unhealthy relationship with food.  This is why it is sometimes confusing when starting Intuitive Eating.  Accepting that craziness is part of the process because you need a healthy relationship with food.

Q:  Does it work?

Shauna:  I got a lot of reaction when I started Intuitive Eating.  People want to know if it works.    In the back of my head I kept thinking when will this weight come off?  A big part of Intuitive Eating is eating mindfully; not watching television while eating, not eating in the car, but on a plate and focusing on that food.  When food becomes just food and not in the forefront of my mind, that is when I know it is working.

Christie: Nutella is my favorite.  I would eat it jars at a time with loaves of French bread.  Once It had no power over me I realized it was working.  I have been 30 lbs less and 30 lbs heavier but I know I can be either way and be okay with it.  You can beat yourself up and kill yourself with dieting and fitness or you can accept where you are.  It works when you can accept where you are.

Karen:  What works is what works for you.  What works for me is control.  My Ah-Ha moment was when i realized that food wasn’t controlling me but I didn’t have to control food either.  I had expectations for myself when I started my book.  I had an idea in my head of what I would be doing and what I would look like when I was done writing.    What works is living everyday for yourself and not having control is part of that equation.  I can’t define it for you, I can only define it for me.

Katie:  Intuitive Eating means going to the gym because i want to, not because i want to see the numbers on the treadmill.  Working is not realizing that I am not eating intuitively, it is just living it.

Q:  What do you think are the biggest challenges?  How do you face them?

Katie:  My biggest challenge is finding the balance, especially during training, to honor the hunger cues and honor the stopping cues.  I may gain weight during training, but that’s okay.  I don’t talk about that on my blog, but I could.

Karen:  What challenges me is mental because I want to catch myself sooner.  Goldfish crackers were my nutella/French bread.  Goldfish still play a role in my life.  A few months ago, I intended to go to the store and buy a bag of goldfish and eat the whole bag.  I didn’t do it.  I ate half that day and half the next day.  The challenge is when you go back there and you are okay with it.  I sometimes test myself to see what happens.

Christie:  The challenge for me is accepting that it is a process everyday.  Being okay that things aren’t always going to go the way I want them to.  There is no wagon or track, nothing to fall off of.  We all have backslides but learn from those experiences instead of beating yourself up about thme.  Reflect about what is going on.

Karen:  I came to the conclusion that there are no backslides, just learning experiences.

Shauna:  My challenge is being honest and open with the process.  When I started I didn’t blog about it…my blog because boring.  Once I started talking about it and being honest with my online friends, I started sharing with my real live friends and my husband.  Ii didn’t want to see that look from my husband because I was trying another weight loss system.  I found that after the end of last year, when I started being honest about everything, I stopped gaining weight.  Since January, I have lost 25 lbs because I was honest and I stopped bullshitting myself.

Katie: Another challenge I face, is that being a Registered Dietician, when my clients see me eating say, ice cream.  They judge me.  I want to practice what I preach.  You can eat all foods and enjoy them, everyone should eat all food.

Q: When and how did the diet mentality become the norm?

Christie:  I saw a book in Target, titled Rich, Pretty and Thin. Our society values rich, pretty, and thin.    If you are not these you are not valuable.  Media perpetuates that if you are not these things then you are not happy.  I think that we have influences; parental, friends, teacher, that we are taught to believe those things.   We don’t have to.  We can believe that we are valuable without them

Katie:  I believe relationships have so much to do about it.  In high school, I did the Atkins because my mom was doing it.  They can be positive and negative.  One of the things is that there is such a negative stigma if you are overweight or obese. We need to take the stigma out of it and focus on getting healthy the right way.

Karen:  I used to think, at some point I would reach a certain weight and wear this size clothes, “my super model weight”.  I knew that even super models don’t even look like super models.  I was shocked to find that the people they use on Runner’s World are airbrushed.  The war on obesity, I really hate the war analogy as far as it concerns our body.  It is because of our culture that we have a war mentality.  I am all about love.

Shauna:  When you come to Fitbloggin, you realize there can be a new norm.  You see people celebrating their bodies in a healthy way.  I want to make a new norm when I have children.

Kristy:  You can look at super models on the cover and see they are airbrushed, but you don’t know what they are going through mentally.

Q: Do you weigh yourself and if so, under what circumstances?

Karen: I don’t weight myself.

Katie:  I do, but the number does not define me.  I only weigh myself before and after a training run to determine how much to rehydrate.

Christie:  Yes, I have a different relationship with the scale.  I have brought awareness to weighing myself.  I weigh myself 4 times a year.  Back in December, I started working with a Naturopath.  I started to think about getting thin for Fitbloggin because I have to look a certain way since I am speaking about Intuitive Eating.  Even though I felt I was heavier, I weighed myself and was still the same.

Karen:  I thought, “If you are really okay with yourself, you would just get on the scale.”  I measure my waist.  It’s the only measurement I take.  The only other numbers I care about are my blood pressure and cholesterol.

Shuana:  Yes, because I am a numbers geek.  I don’t stress about it.  Throwing away the scale is just like weighing myself every day.  I make a conscious decision to not write my numbers down anymore.  My weight loss isn’t the focus.  The victory is that I can walk past a bakery and not be on a leash.

Christie:  in the Intuitive Eating world, you don’t weight yourself.  You detach yourself from the scale.  Challenge yourself, find out what happens when you don’t weigh yourself.

Q: Any practical advice to start eating Intuitively?

Christie:  Use the 15 minute method (it doesn’t have to be 15 min).  Use it with everything, food, exercise, the scale.  When you are at the moment when you are going to binge, give yourself 15 minutes before to focus.  The key is to be mindful during that time.  Observe what is in your mind, how your body, what you are experiencing, what you are thinking.  If after 15 minutes you still want the food/exercise/scale, then do it.

Shauna:  I have a one-minute hour glass.  When I have the thought of going to the vending machine, I turn the hour glass and tune in to see how I am feeling.  This gives you 60 seconds to think about what is really going on.

Christie:  When I was in treatment for an eating disorder, I used Mandalas (adult coloring books). I have two of them hanging in my kitchen and I find that these help to give awareness to my intuitive eating.

Shauna: I have red dots and post-it notes everywhere.  Sometime I open my kitchen cabinet and see that red dot.  It makes me aware and usually I close that cabinet door.

Q: Forgiveness is never putting someone out of your heart.  When you are going through a binge and backsliding how do you put yourself back into your heart?

Karen:  I stand in front of the mirror, naked.  You develop a feeling by thinking about something that makes your heat feel well “self love feeling”.  I look at myself with no harshness in my face.  I find that the more I accept myself, that I am able to be that way for other people.  Once you practice it for awhile all you have to do is think about it to feel that.

Q: Are there any first steps in transitioning into Intuitive Eating?

Christie:  I recommend Intuitive Eating CDs by Evelyn Tribole.  I prefer the CDs because it gives you concrete exercises.  If you are coming from a structured plan it is okay to continue to journaling about what you are eating.  Take baby steps, it will not happen overnight.  Just start one meal at a time.

Shauna:  I have not stopped journaling. I add another category to my spread sheet, mood.  Think about how you feel after you eat before and after you eat certain foods.  Start looking at yourself as a very compassionate science experience.

Karen:  i think you can be on Weight Watchers and eat intuitively.  You can have structure.  If you are feeling desperate and upset then it isn’t working, but if you feel that way on weight watchers then that works for you.

Katie: You forget what it feels like to feel hungry.  It is important to let yourself start feeling that.  Get your body back on track to know when your body is hungry.

Q:  At some point, in your journey, did you think “I’m just eating”?

Karen: We look outside of ourselves for everything.  We don’t trust ourselves for anything.  Listen to your body, you have everything you need right in side of yourself.  You have to start thinking that you have that in yourself and that you don’t have to follow other’s rules.

Shauna:  I stop looking at diets in magazines.  I don’t want to trust others rules.

Katie:  It works because I don’t think about myself as an Intuitive Eater.  Sometimes I have to give myself a pep talk.  I don’t know what my switch was to go to that place.  It is not going to be a light bulb moment.

Christie:  I am not always on a hunger scale of 1-10.  At fist you don’t know what that even means, but eventually you will wake up and realize that you don’t rely on the hunger scale, you are not counting.

Karen:  it takes as long as it takes.

Q:  How do you free your mind?

Shauna: You have to embrace the moment.

Christie:  You have to try and see what your experience is.  I can only share my experience.  If you never try to eat intuitively, you never will.

Karen:  We get hung up on words.  I can’t stand the word goal.  Stop worrying about what you should be doing.

Q:  How do you lose weight, at recommendations of a doctor, while using Intuitive Eating?

Christie:  I believe that we can be healthy, and it isn’t a number on a scale.  You have to ask what the number on the scale is worth to you.  I don’t want to fight with food or exercise.  I also know that if you are truly listening to your body and not your mind, listening to your hunger signals, you will get to your body’s ideal weight.  It may not be that number you want but you will get there by honoring your body’s signals.

This session was captured by Erin of Enjoying the Chaos


  1. eatingasapathtoyoga says

    I personally don't feel that intuitive eating & weight watchers can mix. Dr. Michelle May says it best here:

    1. If it’s not a diet, then why do they tell you how many points you can eat each day?
    2. If it’s not a diet, then why do you have to earn the right to eat more by exercising?
    3. If it’s not a diet, then why do you have to be weighed in?
    4. If it’s not a diet, then how come vegetables are “free” instead of just good for you?
    5. If it’s not a diet, then why is everybody on it talking about food ALL the time?

    I’m not saying Weight Watchers isn’t a “lifestyle change.” I’m just saying, who wants that kind of lifestyle? (Michelle May, M.D.)

    Anyway, different thinking is what makes the world go around.

  2. says

    Thanks for coming and thanks for the comments! It was an excellent panel and I was honored to be on it!!

    I wanted to clarify something in the transcript. It says that I said: "What works for me is control." What I actually said is that I wanted to to take "control" out of the equation. Food does not control me and I do not have to control food.

  3. Vanessa28613 says

    Sorry…this intuitive eating thing is a crock of crap. I tried it for a month…and worked out 1.5 to 2 hours a day. I gained 6 pounds. If I had been told it would make me gain weight I wouldn’t have tried it. People can say it’s not about weight loss, but it is. If I was eating what my body needed, I wouldn’t be gaining weight. I don’t know how long we’re expected to allow ourselves to gain weight. How do you think people with a tremendous fear of more weight gain are going to deal with this? I already hate looking in the mirror, do now I’m working out like a dog, and I’m fatter than I was before. Now I’m starting ANOTHER diet 6 pounds heavier. Thanks intuitive eating! That sure helps my self esteem. I could give a crap less about eating right if it’s going to make me fatter. I’m so disgusted I could spit. I wish I had done some online research first. Funny…the book I read raved about intuitive eating. Was there even one word in it that states I’d half kill myself and get fatter. Not one word about the fact that I would gain weight. Now I see that it makes everyone fat, and we’re supposed to deal it and be happy about it? There is no way i*€%#% I’m sticking with this until I gain 30+ pounds hoping it will eventually work. That’s nuts. Anyone that will tell you not to worry about it has never had a weight problem. There’s a reason we starve. It’s the only thing that works. Intuitive eating is just another crappy diet fad. What makes this worse by far is that it gave me hope that the rest of my life could be normal, that’s not true, and it’s cruel.