Nourished & Free: The Podcast

Intuitive Eating vs. Not Dieting vs. Reverse Dieting - Are they the same?

February 27, 2024 Michelle Yates, MS, RD, LMNT Episode 52
Nourished & Free: The Podcast
Intuitive Eating vs. Not Dieting vs. Reverse Dieting - Are they the same?
Show Notes Transcript

Is Intuitive Eating really any different from just not dieting? 🤔 Why is it so hard to know what it is and how to do it? But at the same time, you hear people say it's easy to do, and the most sustainable solution for a lifetime of a healthy and nourishing relationship with food. So what's going on? Why are there so many polarizing opinions on the topic?

In this episode, I'm breaking down the myths, misconceptions and mistakes I commonly see when someone starts to eat intuitively. I'm also putting it up against not dieting and how intuitive eating has its own process, as well as how reverse dieting isn't the same as intuitive eating (hint: that's still a diet, while intuitive eating isn't) 🚫

So if you've been curious about healing your relationship with food by intuitively eating but weren't sure how it differs from just not dieting then this episode is made for you!


Introducing Intuitive Eating (01:00)
Challenges of Implementing Intuitive Eating (01:17)
Difference Between Intuitive Eating and Not Dieting (02:23)
Importance of Understanding Intuitive Eating (06:40)
Misconceptions and Challenges in Intuitive Eating (07:50)
Impact of Health at Every Size and Body Positivity (09:59)
Intentionality in Intuitive Eating (12:18)
Difference Between Intuitive Eating and Reverse Dieting (13:42)


What is Intuitive Eating Blog Post (good place to start for learning the basics)

The HAES® Controversy: Is it Evidence-Based? with Dr. Idz (@dr_idz)

🔥 My Signature 4-Month Program, Nourished & Free
📲 Follow me on Instagram (you'll get to know me pretty quickly!)
📖 Check out my Blog for tons of helpful articles

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Welcome to Nourished and Free The Podcast, a show dedicated to helping you create a healthy and realistic relationship around food, your body and all things wellness. I'm your host, Michelle Yates, a registered dietitian specializing in eating disorders and disordered eating, as well as health psychology. If you're new here, welcome to what might possibly be your new favorite show? If you enjoy digging into topics like nutrition and mental health, we talk about that a lot here. You'll love the show if you're interested in topics like eating disorders, debunking popular wellness trends, body image, food psychology, and any other challenges that we face today with our relationship with food, be sure you subscribe so you won't miss when a new dose of nourishing free magic drops. Let's dig into today's episode. Intuitive eating has been criticized for being vague, unhealthy, and unrealistic. It's also been noted to be a relief, easy to do, and the most sustainable solution for a lifetime of a healthy and nourishing relationship with food. So what's going on? Why are there so many polarizing opinions on the topic? I've been using intuitive eating as a part of my framework with my clients for about four years now, and I've seen massive breakthroughs in the lives of my clients because of it and in my own life. With that being said, I've also noticed that it can be difficult for some and ultimately lead them to a frustration fueled burnout. One of the biggest reasons for this is that intuitive eating is not black and white. It's not as easy as what's right and what's wrong, and many people find that really jarring. They want someone to tell them exactly what they should eat, how much and when. Most of the time, this is because it's what they're most used to. Many people who stumble upon the framework of intuitive eating find it. After years, even decades of dieting, they're desperate to get off of the diet roller coaster. But the very thing they need is the thing that scares them the most. A flexible style of eating. But perhaps the biggest mistake that I see with intuitive eating is that people don't follow the actual framework of it, not because they're ignoring it or defying it, but they just haven't really learned all of it and then implemented all of it. They think intuitive eating just means eat whatever you want, whenever you want. And while that's kind of true, it's also not true at all. There's more involved in the process of picking something to eat rather than just what sounds good. It's more than that. It's deeper than that. Many women have reached out to me saying they read a couple chapters of the Intuitive Eating book. They tried it out and then ended up finding themselves completely out of control with food and feeling awful physically. What often happens is people take the idea of intuitive eating and turn it into I'm just not dieting, which is true. But intuitive eating is still its own process, one that should be learned properly before we did it to the wayside and say it didn't work. In this episode, we're going to tease out the differences between intuitive eating and not dieting, because intuitive eating, while it's not a diet, it's more than not dieting. We're also going to take some notes on the differences between intuitive eating and reverse dieting as well, which is often thought to be similar to intuitive eating. By the way, thank you to all of you who have left a review on the show. I absolutely love reading what you said. Special thanks to Alibaug for leaving a review on my Apple podcast and saying from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I literally signed up for Optavia and was on day three, then heard your podcast while scrolling looking for podcasts. I quit immediately, seriously saved me money and my health. Also, I'd like to add that I'm now hooked on your podcast and sharing your knowledge and opinions. Thank you Alibaug for leaving the review and for letting me know. I'm really, really grateful to hear that I was able to help you out in an unique situation of starting up to be. That's really why I make these episodes, is because I want to talk about these popular diet trends and things that are going on and explain fully what's involved with them, because often what we see in our told is really sensationalized and romanticized. And then once you actually get into it, you realize that it's maybe not as glamorous. And so I'm super glad to hear that I was able to help you out. And I'm glad that you're enjoying the podcast. Thanks for leaving that note. And I've also loved hearing your guys's feedback on my last episode, which was super fun to make. In case you missed it, my husband and I, we were breaking down our reactions to the new Netflix docu series called You Are What You Eat. My husband is a project manager in the fintech world, so he does not have any background on the. How big of nutrition and health. So it was really entertaining to hear his thoughts and reaction as he represented the average Joe after watching that documentary, and then to share my thoughts with him as well, with my background as a registered dietitian and obviously nutrition and health sciences was was pretty entertaining. For those of you who did listen to the episode, be sure you check out my article on it as well. I found a few new surprising facts after we recorded that episode, the biggest of all being that the documentary made it seem like there was way more involved in this study than there actually was. It also really inflated the results of this study. So I discuss it all in the article, and you can find that in the show notes of that episode. So if you haven't left a review or rating yet on the show, I'd appreciate it if you took the time to do that, either on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. They both have the option to leave a rating. I've had some really exciting moments of making it to the top 100 podcasts in the nutrition category, with my best being number 38. That wouldn't be possible without your ratings. I have, unfortunately fallen to the spot of 140, so we've got some work to do. So please help me keep climbing those charts so I can be discovered by more people, and do me a favor and leave a quick rating. So for this episode, I'm going to assume you already are familiar with what intuitive eating is. I'm naturally going to be discussing some of the details of it in this episode, but if you're looking for a more in-depth explanation of how intuitive eating works, what it's all about if you're basically looking for an intuitive eating one on one, I will leave a link to one of my articles in the show notes that will bring you up to speed on everything you need to know about intuitive eating and the basics of it. Now, when we think about intuitive eating, there's these ten principles set in place, right, that are designed to help somebody create a healthy relationship with food and then, to a smaller extent, a healthy relationship with fitness and their body as well. What ends up happening a lot of times, though, is that only a few of the principles are actually being implemented or or learned about. Sometimes people don't bother to learn about all ten and listen. I understand our attention span is is pretty terrible in general, but what ends up happening is that intuitive eating is not being properly implemented, and therefore it doesn't work, or it feels like it's not working, or it feels like we're just not dieting instead of intuitive eating, which shouldn't be the case either. So let's break down a few of the biggest reasons that we find ourselves in this predicament of not dieting rather than true intuitive eating. And the first one, and perhaps the most obvious, is that we approach this as a eat whenever you want style of eating without any regard to how eating in different ways affects us physically and nutritionally. And this is honestly the biggest misconception around intuitive eating. And biggest mistake too, is that it's just all junk food. Even though I don't really love that phrase. But you know what I mean when I say that right? So no healthy foods ever. Just all ultra processed, sugary whatever. And to be fair, this will happen if somebody has come from a place of having a ton of food rules and then they suddenly are not thinking about nutrition or health at all, and they just throw their hands in the air and say, well, f it, I'm done, right? Like I don't really care. And this is, I mean, really what happens all the time when somebody is stuck in a diet binge cycle? Not not if they're just intuitive eating, which is really just not dieting. Sometimes it happens when they're just stuck on the roller coaster of dieting is there. They get to this point where they fall off the wagon because it was really difficult to adhere to all the food rules that they had before. And they say, all right, I'm over it. I don't want to do this anymore. So food liberation. When it comes to intuitive eating, there's definitely an element there of all foods are on the table, but it's only about 10 to 20% of the story. It's not enough to just say what do I want? And then allow yourself to eat that and eat what you're craving all the time. But you also need to ask, why? Why do I want that? And how will my body feel if I eat that? And a lot of times when we dig into the why and we ask ourselves how will feel, we find ourselves not needing food at all sometimes, or being swayed to eat differently. Or maybe it's the same food, it's just different amounts. Or maybe there's a new food being introduced to make a combination. Sometimes our original plans with what we were going to eat change when we take the time to think through those things. Another reason that I end up seeing intuitive eating to be really loosey goosey and not at all structured or logical or healthy and basically just not dieting instead of intuitive eating, is that people get really caught up in the health at every size, fat liberation and body positivity side of things and. And therefore they're convinced that having anything healthy at all, or saying no to anything at all, is restriction and diet culture, and therefore fatphobic. Now, I've done a couple of episodes on health at every size, and to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if I do another one. I feel like I still have more things to say, but if you haven't listened to my episode from December 5th, 2023 with doctor Aids on the haze controversy, I definitely recommend checking that out. That's going to be a really great place to start to hear some more in-depth conversation on the whole movement and the evidence for it and against it, and the pros and the cons. But basically what happens a lot with health at every size and body positivity and the fat liberation movements, which are all intertwined, is that they work super hard to normalize living in a larger body and ending weight discrimination and weight stigma. Rightfully so. Right? We should not be discriminating against people. But in the midst of that, there are ideals spread around that are sometimes subtle and not so obvious, but other times more blatantly said, where if you're doing anything for the sake of your health, it's considered fatphobic. In other words, if you're choosing a healthy food, then you must be afraid of getting fat. And you must hate fat people. And so you're basically discriminating against everyone who's fat. So shame on you for hating fat people. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I've been doing this work long enough, and I've been in the profession and in the niche long enough that I've seen this happen. People are genuinely afraid to eat a healthy diet, or to have a salad, because they're afraid that that's going to be like them slipping back into diet culture. And if they do that, then that means they're fat phobic and then they feel guilty about being fat phobic, and it's just not the case. The truth is that intuitive eating in its most basic sense, when we remove all the politics and the social implications that are thrown on top of it, a lot of times it does encourage healthy eating, or as they call it, gentle nutrition, and for you to eat foods that make your body feel good. Sometimes that means saying no to things. Sometimes that means choosing something else. Sometimes it means saying yes to things. It depends because the health of every size and body positivity and fat liberation method has become so severe and loud and toxic and guilt trippy. A lot of times people are afraid of truly honoring their body with nourishing choices because they've been shamed to think it's fat phobic of them to do so. So in turn, they just don't think about their food choices at all, which is perhaps the biggest trap of all when it comes to intuitive eating. Turning into not dieting is that we're lacking intentionality. Intuitive eating is intentional. There's a lot of inner work being done to understand what you truly need. Whereas if we're just not dieting, we're not being intentional at all or placing any consideration towards what and how we eat. So if intuitive eating isn't the same as not dieting, how is it different from reverse dieting? The concept of reverse dieting first came from the bodybuilding community as a method to recover from the extreme dieting phases done before competition and and fix a quote unquote slowed metabolism. People took that and have run with it in the weight loss and wellness community, and tried to promote reverse dieting as a cure all for fixing a broken metabolism and telling women that's why they haven't been able to lose weight because your metabolism is broken. So we just need to do some reverse dieting because you haven't been eating enough. So you've been in starvation mode. And in terms of metabolism, it certainly can slow down a bit after dieting and extreme restriction, but it's kind of an overblown concept the way that we hear about it and the way that we see it. The reason that it does slow down a little bit is because the body literally becomes smaller when we've been doing a diet and we have lost weight, so therefore it needs less energy to fuel it. And we aren't burning as much energy processing food anymore because we're not eating as much food. Did you know, it literally takes calories to eat calories? You burn energy when you are going through the mechanical process of digestion. And then if we're restricting enough that it makes us tired as well, we might not be moving our bodies as much because we're just generally tired. So again, our energy needs are lower than they were before. So yeah, your metabolic rate can slow down to adjust a little bit. After going through a dieting phase if your body got smaller, if you're more tired in general, not moving as much, and if you're just eating less food in general, then you're not spending as much energy to consume the energy. But your metabolism wouldn't necessarily be broken or slowed down as much as people might make it seem. With reverse siting, the idea is to add in more food to speed up the metabolism, therefore help you lose weight. This is an unsupported claim. While it may work for some because now they have more energy to move their body more, or to lift more weights, or to go heavier at the gym, it won't work for everybody. Reverse dieting is is sometimes thought of as being like intuitive eating, but there are some key differences there. Reverse eating is still dieting. I mean, just look at the name and this sense that you're you're focused on trying to get weight off. Most of the time. That's what the focus is. Whereas intuitive eating isn't. Weight loss can be a side effect of tuning in more to when you're really, truly full. And if you actually did want to eat that, or if that was more of an emotional thing and and if it helps you to stop bingeing, like, yes, it can help you lose weight in a sense, but that's not the intent with it. It's not the main focus of it. And with reverse dieting, that is the focus. It's also still hyper fixated on calories and portion sizes, because there's a meticulous method of adding calories in. So that could guide somebody away from listening to how their body is feeling, and instead lead them towards just trying to hit those numbers and calorie goals for the day. So intuitive eating in reverse, dieting not the same. Hopefully this has helped cleared up the confusion around intuitive eating and how it's different from just not dieting or even reverse dieting. But is it right for you? If you find yourself overwhelmed by nutrition information you're trying to keep up with diets. If you're using food to cope with emotions or are constantly thinking about it, you feel like 95% of your brain is food. Learning. Intuitive eating through my signature program, Nourished and Free, might be the right next step for you. Nourish and free involves so much more than just eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full. That's actually barely what we talk about. It's even more than just intuitive eating, either. Rather, we're going to dig into the food psychology that might be leading you into those self-sabotaging behaviors and dig deep into some body image work so that you can truly appreciate yourself and feel confident in who you are. We're also going to be transforming your approach to fitness so that it can be fun and sustainable for you. Nourished and free can help you create a truly healthy relationship with food, your body, and fitness so that you can turn off the food noise for good. Just live your dang life. I've got some details in the show notes, so to learn more and apply for nourish and free the program, visit my show notes and learn more about it there. Hope you love this episode! If you think you have a friend that would enjoy it, be sure you share it with them and we will see you next time.