How To  Stop Dieting and Eat Normally

How To Stop Dieting and Eat Normally

How To Stop Dieting and Eat Normally

Let’s talk about some initial steps you can take to learn how to stop dieting and eat normally. If you’ve clicked on this article, I’ll take a guess that you’ve been on and off diets (or pursuing weight loss in some form) for quite some time. Maybe you have tried to stop dieting before, only to get tempted back for “just one last time”? The constant, obsessive thoughts about food, the restricting, and binging, the hating your body are getting exhausting. Are you thinking there has GOT to be another way?

Are you feeling tired of dieting?

If you’re fed up with being stuck in the cycle of yo-yo diets, know that there is a way out – it’s called Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is an evidence-based approach to health and wellness. It helps you tune into your body signals, stop the binge-restrict cycle, and heal your relationship with food. This is achieved by working through principles that will guide you back to a natural way of eating. It is steered by internal body signals and wisdom (i.e. hunger, fullness and satisfaction) rather than external rules.

Unlearning dieting is a process

The process of learning how to stop dieting and eat normally again isn’t usually as simple or easy as we might like. Especially if we’ve been following external food rules for a long time. Even if you feel more ready than ever to hop off the dieting bandwagon, it’s normal for uncertainties, fears and sticking points to crop up throughout the process. Below, our clients describe some very common fears and struggle with letting go of diets:

“Trusting myself around food. Especially when alone and there are no limits. I am not in touch with what my body wants/needs.”


“I don’t listen to my body. I eat what I think I must eat instead of what I want to eat.”


“The overload of available information on what I should or shouldn’t be eating, how I should or shouldn’t look. This means being constantly disciplined, thin, healthy, happy and IN CONTROL.”

If any of these resonate with you, please know that you are not alone. There will be ups and downs whilst figuring out how to stop dieting and eat normally, However, if you stick with it, it will likely be one of the best, most liberating things you do. You can check out videos and written stories of clients who have broken free from dieting.



Here are my best tips on how to stop dieting and eat normally:

1. Identify what a diet is, and isn’t 

I have seen so many clients who are confused because they don’t consider themselves to be dieting. However, they still feel trapped and know that something is “off” with their relationship with food. This is so common because diets are sneaky these days! In recent times the weight loss and wellness industries have had to adapt to the fact that the word “diet” no longer sells the way it used to. Consumers are savvier to the fact that “diets” don’t work. Instead we hear terms such as “eating clean”, “lifestyle change”, “cleanse”, “detox” or “8-week challenge”. These are just diets wrapped up in new, shiny packaging. If it restricts the way you eat and takes you away from being able to listen and respond to your body – it’s going to keep you trapped just like a diet.

2. Recognise the harm dieting has done

In the long term, science tells us that diets do more harm than good. Not only do the vast majority of people regain the weight they lose, but weight loss diets also lead to poorer mental health. They take away from our social lives, lead us to have lower self-esteem and feel more dissatisfied with our bodies.

I know that before I found intuitive eating, all of these negatives rang true. Recognising this was what allowed me to take the leap to try something different. Take this 3-minute quiz to help you identify if you are ready to stop dieting.

3. From now on, no foods are off-limits

You know how once someone tells you not to look down, you immediately have to fight an urge to do so? It works the same when telling ourselves we can’t have certain types or amounts of foods. That’s one of the reasons diets are so hard to stick with. The only way to get rid of the “forbidden fruit” factor is to allow yourself ALL foods. No labels, no good or bad foods, because really, no food is morally good or bad. It’s all just-food.

When you first allow yourself to eat all foods, it is extremely normal to initially go overboard eating things you always considered to be off-limits. It is important to allow yourself to go through this phase so that your body and brain can re-establish trust with each other. After a few days or weeks, these foods will lose most of their lure. Just like when you buy a new item of clothing, wear it every day, and then it ends up in the back of the draw with the rest of the jumpers you once loved? Maybe you still like it, but you don’t need to wear it every day. Sure, you might always have a thing for cookies, but if you know that you can have some anytime you want, you won’t have to obsess over them.

4. Start to listen to your hunger and fullness

If this is tricky for you, know that you are amongst the majority. It is extremely common after years of dieting and eating according to external rules to lose touch with what it feels like to be hungry or full. Biologically speaking, it’s near impossible to stop eating, when your body needs food, so getting in touch with early hunger signals is important. Don’t stress, you are not broken. These signals are still there and you can learn to hear them again. It will just take some time and a bit of trial and error. The best way to start tuning back in is to take a minute to pause before and after you eat to feel your hunger. You can use the scale in the free document below as a reference. I also recommend keeping a hunger journal like this one:

5. Eat regular, satisfying meals and snacks

In general, to feel your best and avoid energy dips, you don’t want to be going much more than 3-5 hours without food. Some people struggle to initially hear hunger and fullness cues, so regular eating can help to “get the machine churning”. This can create a rhythm from which you can tune into those signals again.

As well as physically filling you up, your meals and snacks need to mentally and physically satisfy you so that you do not feel restricted (remember: restriction leads to bingeing). This means choosing foods that we crave or that “hum” to us. To ensure physical satisfaction, I often talk about the importance of choosing options with “staying power” with my clients. These are usually those which include a source of each fat, protein, carbohydrate, and fibre.

6. Learn to sit with your emotions

A lot of us use food to quash unpleasant emotions that we’d rather not feel. This is normal to some extent, but we really don’t want food to be our only coping mechanism. If emotional eating is something you struggle with then an important part of learning how to stop dieting and eat normally will be learning to cope with these emotions without food. You can get more in-depth tips on emotional eating in this article. 

7. Expect setbacks and let go of perfection

The cool thing about intuitive eating is that you can’t get it wrong. It is a process of learning and self-discovery. On a diet, you’d probably punish yourself if you broke the “rules”. Eating too many cookies or too much ice-cream for example, whilst learning to eat intuitively is not a failure. It’s a neutral occurrence and a valuable learning opportunity. Get curious about your own behaviour and try to be compassionate and forgiving with yourself. When we speak kindly to ourselves, we are more likely to make healthy choices and feel better.


In Summary:

Learning how to stop dieting and eat normally is 100% possible but it is a process and will require being brave, compassionate towards yourself and trusting the process. Intuitive eating is a proven framework we can use to break free from the diet cycle. You can get started today using my FREE 7-step download, with audio guide and actionable workbook.  

Fear of Weight Gain: 7 Tips To Overcome Getting Stuck In It

Fear of Weight Gain: 7 Tips To Overcome Getting Stuck In It

Overcoming the fear of weight gain…

Overcoming the fear of weight gain is something I talk about often with clients. When we first speak, many feel excited at the thought of letting go of diets after years of pursuing weight loss. They are excited (albeit a little nervous) to re-learn to honour their body and free up brain space to live more fulfilled lives away from food obsession. 

However, there is sometimes a shadow that can come hurtling over…

but what about my weight? If I fulfill my hunger and try to foster a normal relationship with food, I will just end up eating all the time. This will just lead to weight gain, which frustrates me and makes me question whether that is the adequate pathway.”

By now you might have felt that you can’t keep going the way you are. 

Either you’ve tried numerous attempts to lose weight, only to be back at square one…

Or, kept your weight down through restriction, but food thoughts consume you and steal the joy from life.

Does this sound right? If so, you might be wandering “where do I go from here?”

Where to from here?

This is where a Health At Every Size (HAES) approach can come in. 

HAES is a weight-neutral approach to health care. It promotes the pursuit of healthful behaviours (like eating vegetables, moving your body, getting enough protein, etc.) for the inherent health benefits of those behaviours, rather than for the explicit purpose of weight manipulation.

The reason being that the pursuit of weight loss can often do more harm than good…

How pursuing weight loss can lead to harm…

You see, there is a magical 6 month period where most diet research is published, After this period, regardless of the type of diet, almost everyone starts to put the weight back on. By 2 to 5 years later the VAST majority (95%) of dieters are back to where they started. To add to that, about one to two-thirds of people end up heavier than they were before they began. This fact is so well known that it’s counted as “Level A” evidence (meaning it’s the highest level of evidence possible in science). 

The pursuit of weight loss can leave people jumping on and off of different ways of eating, looking for that magic fix (calorie counting, cutting out foods or food groups, going vegan, skipping meals, counting points). This can actually do a lot of harm.  Harmful side effects of dieting include eating disorders, increased emotional eating, disconnected eating, lack of trust around food and food obsession. And weight stigma is another factor that is also rarely spoken about.

Letting go of weight loss might sound crazy. But I invite you to reflect on your own experiences and consider whether dieting has actually been a positive approach to health either. For many people dieting does a lot of harm to their wellbeing. As a result, they choose to follow a non-diet approach to health like Intuitive Eating

And one of the biggest fears that can come with intuitive eating is… 

“Okay, so if I pursue this approach, how do I overcome the fear of weight gain? I just don’t think I could cope with that”

This is why I have asked Therapist and Body Image Expert Brianna Campos to answer this question with her top tips to overcome getting stuck in the fear of weight gain. 

7 tips to overcome getting stuck in the fear of weight gain

1) Acknowledge that you are not alone.

One of the most common fears in people pursuing a non-diet approach is gaining weight. When we can recognise that we are collective with the same fear – we can work together towards an actual solution.

2) Identify the source of the fear.

On the surface, it might be fear of weight gain. But truly it’s the beliefs that come with weight gain that create the fear. Not the weight gain itself. What is the story you tell yourself about gaining weight? Does it mean you have failed? Do you believe it makes you less attractive/ ‘healthy” etc/ desirable? Carolyn Costin says that body image work is like a check-engine light. Turning off the light (weight -loss) doesn’t address the root issue. We have to look under the hood to discover where the issues stem from.

3) Make space for the fear by having a dialogue with it.

What is it saying to you? Ask the fear, what it’s trying to protect you from. Can you find ways that you know the fear is untrue

i.e. Do you fear gaining weight will make you less likeable? You can reality test this. Ask yourself, would like someone less merely because of their body size? 

ACTIVITY: Name one very important person in your life. Write out all of the things you love about them. Do these things have anything to do with their body size? Keep a running list of all the reasons why people love you too! I bet it has nothing to do with your size. 

4) Explore what needs you may have.

Does the fear come from people making comments on your body size? Perhaps you need to set a boundary around that. For example, walking out the room, changing the subject or directly saying you don’t want to speak about weight loss/dieting. Does the fear come from not wanting to buy new clothes if you get bigger? Perhaps consider trading out some older smaller clothes with flexible/stretchy newer clothes. This can foster acceptance and help you make peace with your body.

5) Sit in the suck.

This is not going to be easy.  You are undoing a lifetime of messaging around your body. Acknowledge that the fear is hard. Sometimes the fear will suck you in. This is okay. Validate all the things about gaining weight that suck and makes your life harder.  Feel the feelings you have around the oppression you may have faced due to your body.  Your fear is REAL. 

6) Reparent yourself.

The way we speak to ourselves is interconnected with how we feel about ourselves.  As these moments arise where you realise you are “fearful” of weight gain do the following exercise.


1. Ask yourself: do I have the capacity to explore this right now? YES or NO

If no, put it in a container in your mind and tuck it away for therapy or journaling later.

2. If YES, you might like to explore these questions/steps:

a) What is the source of this fear? Is there a certain story I’m telling myself? Do I hold particular beliefs about my body getting bigger?

b) Is my fear trying to protect me from anything?

c) Do I have beliefs that certain needs that could be met by losing weight? (i.e. I believe that I will be more lovable in a smaller body)

3. Grieve. Allow yourself to be sad/ frustrated/ angry etc.

4.  When you are ready, ask yourself: What might a loving parent say to their child if they were feeling this way? 

7) Continue to commit to learning.

About fatphobia, body positivity and all the intersectionalities that come with body image work. Recognise it as a process that is not linear but one you can always keep learning & growing.

In summary

By reading this article, you’re already “doing the work”. Exploring where your values and beliefs have come from, and sitting with this discomfort is part of the process. If you’re at the start of your journey to heal your relationship with food, it may be helpful to put the desire for weight loss on the backburner. When you remove this from the spotlight, you can focus on other ways to measure progress and begin to honour your body and make peace with food. 

To have fear and anxiety around weight is normal and is something that you, your therapist and/or Dietitian can continue to work through. Dieting and weight loss focused language keeps us constantly planning for the future, what you ‘would do’ or be deserving of once you lose weight.

This can hold you back from enjoying, respecting and taking care of your body in the here and now.

When weight loss is on the back burner, you can focus on how to take care of your body in the here and now. It creates space to allow you to think about what you need today to feel more comfortable, confident, and to get your needs met. What’s a goal or something fun you want to do short-term that doesn’t require changing your body? 

While the fear of weight gain is normal, it doesn’t need to be your reality forever.

Additional Resources

Article: “Body acceptance begins with grieving the thin ideal


Ted Talk: “Body Positivity or Body Obsession” 

People to follow on Instagram: 

Who is Brianna?

Brianna (or Bri) is a Licensed Professional Counsellor in New Jersey. She has worked with Eating Disorder Recovery patients for the last four years and has a special interest in body image.  Brianna also teaches Introduction to Eating Disorders as an adjunct professor. She has a passion for about Health at Every Size®️ and taking an all foods fit approach to finding freedom with food and learning to love your current body. You can find her on Instagram @bodyimagewithbri

What If You’re Told You Need To Lose Weight To Get Pregnant

What If You’re Told You Need To Lose Weight To Get Pregnant

What to do if you’re told to lose weight to get pregnant…

If you’re in a bigger body and want to get pregnant, the chances are you’ve faced some problems. Have you been told, “you need to lose weight to get pregnant?” Were you dismissed in your request for help from a healthcare professional due to weight? This could be despite multiple attempts of weight loss which have not been sustained. Or a history of disordered eating that stemmed from the pursuit of weight loss. If these are your experiences, please know they are in keeping with the scientific research. This research tells us long-term weight loss is not sustainable and may lead to poorer health.

Is it necessary to lose weight to get pregnant?

Despite much of the information you may have received from the diet industry, teachers, loved ones, and professionals, weight is not something we actually have a lot of control over. All of the evidence we have on weight loss suggests that for the majority of people, manipulating our body’s weight shape or size is very difficult. Weight loss is possible, in most people, any weight lost will usually be regained within 2-5 years. Around 30-60% of people regain weight above baseline. 

Whilst this information might be completely new, and different to what you’ve heard before, this can be explained by the set point theory. This theory has shown that our bodies have an internal thermostat or ‘pre-programmed’ weight that bodies naturally want to be at when they are taken care of (there is enough food available without restriction). This might not be the weight that society deems “should” be okay as per the Body Mass Index (BMI). When the body is withheld from food or restricted, the body works really hard to return to its ‘set point’. It does this by adjusting the metabolism to be more or less efficient with the energy it receives from food. It’s not something that can be ‘hacked’ or controlled, and it’s the body’s way of protecting itself. 

Can you try to lose weight while trying to get pregnant?

Diets are essentially a way to get your body into a calorie deficit. Whether it be counting calories, striving to be “healthier”, or juice detox. If it’s about weight loss and getting into an energy deficit, it’s a diet. Diets act by tricking the body into thinking it’s in a famine. The body’s natural response is to go into survival mode, conserving energy and increasing hunger signals to make us seek out food. This is where food obsession can kick in, and body systems that are not essential can be switched off. Including the reproductive system. As soon as the diet stops, the body is relieved by food being available again and makes the most of this by stocking up on fat stores just in case there is another famine. This is why it becomes more and more difficult to lose weight with each diet attempt, and why we can end up yo-yo dieting.

So recommending dieting, and weight loss in the context of fertility treatment can be harmful. Fat people are told to do something that can actually promote infertility in the name of aesthetics and beauty standards! Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals are not aware of this, so you’re well within your rights to express concern at these recommendations, and to ask for weight inclusive care. 

We, therefore, encourage rejecting this recommendation for weight loss in the name of fertility. This is to ensure the body is well nourished to geared up for a healthy conception. 

If your doctor tells you you need to lose weight, there are a number of things you can do, outlined in the rest of this article. 

Can losing weight improve egg quality?

If you search the internet, you’re likely to find an array of lotions and potions and interventions that claim to improve egg or sperm quality. Whilst there are things that can be done to look after your reproductive health, these do not need to involve rigid routines and restrictive eating. These can add further stress and expense. Rather than jumping ahead, it might be worth asking your doctor about testing an investigation that might be available to you. These can include:

  • Blood tests to check hormone levels related to your menstrual cycle and ovulation
  • An examination to see if there are any physical obstructions like fallopian tube blockages or cysts on the ovaries. 
  • Semen testing measures things like quality, quantity and motility. 

In terms of nutrition, one of the most important factors is eating enough food, and regularly keeping hormone levels stable. There are some key supplements including folic acid. This has been linked to increased conception rates, an increased chance of ovulation higher quality oocytes and a shorter time to pregnancy. It’s found in most pre-pregnancy supplements and is recommended to be taken 2-3 months prior to conception, and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. 40o micrograms are the standard dose, however, it’s important to speak with your doctor to see if this is right for you. Some people require higher doses. 

Steps you can take to improve health without the focus on weight…

With this in mind, many who are in bigger bodies trying to get pregnant choose to pursue a Non-Diet approach to nutrition (intuitive eating). Intuitive eating is an evidence-based practice that supports the pursuit of health without focusing on weight or body size. Importantly, does not trigger disordered eating or poor mental health. 

That’s why I have invited fat positive fertility coach Nicola Salmon to the blog. Nicola is a fat-positive feminist and fertility coach. She advocates for change in how fat folks are treated on their fertility journey. Nicola supports fat folks (and others with disordered eating) who are struggling to get pregnant and find peace with their body. She helps them find their own version of health, and escape the yo-yo diet cycle.

Here, she offers her top tips on fat positive fertility and getting pregnant with a bigger body. 

Top 3 tips on what to do if you’re told you need to lose weight to get pregnant

1) Release the vice-like grip that the scales might have on you

We’ve been brought up to believe that our health is determined by the number on the scales and it’s just not true. Your weight tells me absolutely nothing about your health or your fertility. However, weighing yourself regularly brings a ton of stress and anxiety. 

The idea that fat folks struggle to get pregnant is based on the assumption that being fat is unhealthy. In reality, fat folks experience higher risks because they are not given adequate healthcare. They also often get shamed and judged when they access healthcare. Furthermore, we know that there are no intentional weight-loss interventions that have any long term results. Instead, the only long term results from dieting are the likelihood of regaining any weight loss, increased risk of disordered eating and eating disorders. Therefore, you might like to explore the action steps below.

ACTION: What’s a small step that you can take to move away from the scales?

  • Can you move away from weighing yourself daily, to once a week?
  • Maybe you could even throw out your scales! (I smashed mine in the garden! It was very satisfying)
  •  Shift your focus to something else, like getting better sleep, improving your energy levels or feeling stronger.

2) Practice advocating for yourself

If the only advice you are getting from healthcare professionals is to lose weight, then it might be time to advocate for yourself. We are never taught how to advocate for ourselves, it’s a skill that we need to learn and practice.

It’s important to acknowledge that advocating is work. It takes physical and emotional energy and it’s work that you should not have to do. It’s the systems that need to change.

You deserve appropriate and respectful healthcare.

However, unfortunately systems take time to change. This means that advocating for yourself to get that treatment may be the only option right now.

Advocating includes finding healthcare professionals that will treat you. Or, communicating with your current healthcare team to demand the treatments you need.

ACTION: What small step can you take towards getting your healthcare needs met?

Ask local friends/online communities for recommendations for appropriate doctors/clinics.
Spend 15 minutes writing down what your needs are around your healthcare. This way you can identify where they are and aren’t met.
Write a letter (or asking your nutritionist/coach to write a letter for you). This can outline your needs and that you do not want to discuss weight loss/dieting at future appointments.

3) Set boundaries with friends and family

Friends and family can be a great support and get us through the hardest times in our lives. They can also say the most insensitive things when they don’t understand what we are going through. Especially when it comes to weight and fertility. 

It may appear that talking about their own dieting adventures or giving you well-meaning diet advice is coming from a place of love. But impact always trumps intention and the impact of this well-meaning advice can be huge. It can trigger patterns of self-loathing, pain and shame within us. This can have a measurable negative impact on our health. 

ACTION: How can we set boundaries with our close ones without alienating them?

  • Can you try telling them about your needs. For example, “talking about diets and weight-loss makes me feel shame about my body. I need you to talk about your dieting/weight loss advice to someone else”
  • Have a go at asking for their buy-in. For example, “did you know that there is no evidence that any form of intentional weight-loss actually works!!?! If you want to learn more I’d definitely recommend Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison”. 
  • Prioritise keeping yourself safe. If having conversations with others feels too difficult (and sometimes it does!), you can keep yourself safe by removing yourself from the harm. This could look like going to the toilet when your colleagues start talking about diets. Or quickly change the subject when weight loss comes. If possible, you could also avoid spending time with people who talk about dieting all the time. 

In conclusion, being told you need to lose weight to get pregnant is simply not helpful for many. The biggest thing to remember is that you’re worthy of feeling safe and having support in growing your family. It’s okay for you to want to become a parent. You are not selfish or irresponsible. I am sorry if you have been made to feel ashamed or guilty. You deserve to choose when you grow your family. And most importantly, you are worthy.


Food Guilt: How To Get Rid Of It

Food Guilt: How To Get Rid Of It

Food Guilt: How To Get Rid of It

Food guilt is all too common and can steal the joy from the experience of eating. Not only that, it can take us away from experiencing our own bodies and identifying what feels good for us in the moment. 

Does this sound familiar?

“I find myself obsessing over food, which results in overeating “pleasure” food such as chocolates when I am not even hungry and then feeling guilty.”

Because after all, you’re the best too to decide what, when and how much your body needs. 

Not the food police. 

In this article, I’m going to dive into what food guilt is, and strategies to get rid of it so that you can have a more peaceful relationship with food. 


Before we dive in, let’s look at what “food guilt” really means.

As per the English dictionary, guilt is defined as:

“noun. the fact or state of having committed an offence, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability: He admitted his guilt. a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offence, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.”

So the reason we can feel food guilt is the sense of having “broken” something, or having committed a crime.

Are you really committing a crime by simply eating food?

Let’s look at an example:

“I find myself obsessing over food, which results in overeating “pleasure” food such as chocolates when I am not even hungry and then feeling guilty.”

In the case above the felt crime committed is:

  • “eating when not hungry”.

This person is experiencing food guilt because they have broken a perceived rule. 

Is this the reason you’re feeling food guilt too?

You might be thinking:

“but if I didn’t have rules or guidelines, how would I know how to eat healthily?”

I hear you. And I am answering this question below.

The problem is, these rules can be so deeply ingrained in our psyche that we just can’t spot them. And therefore, it can feel difficult to move away from feeling guilty. 

But remember. 

You LEARNED to feel food guilt.

Therefore you can unlearn it.

But surely we need rules to ensure we eat healthily?

It’s important to note that health isn’t’ just about what we eat. It’s about having a healthy relationship with food too. So if we’re riddled with food guilt after eating certain foods, stress levels are going to be high, which isn’t going to be healthy either.

Of course, it makes sense to have guidelines to provide some gentle education around nutrition. 

However, diet culture* does more than this. It imposes quite rigid rules and ideas about what, when and how much we “should” eat. This can make us feel like we’re addicted to foods like sugar. No matter how well-meaning, it can actually do more harm than good for a lot of people. And it’s totally possible to not quit sugar and still be healthy! 

The problem with rules:

  • They can induce rebellion eating: This is the voice that comes in when you break a rule. The voice that says “you can’t tell me what to eat” or “I can so I will” voice. It’s usually not attuned to hunger and fullness and is quite intense, rebellious and not satisfying. Because it’s usually about making a statement.

  • Can result in the sod it mentality: When you have more than 2 squares of chocolate and think “sod it, that’s me ruined for the day”. Dieters tend to evaluate their successes or failures of eating in terms of the current day. Even just thinking that you have violated a food rule is enough to trigger eating more, regardless of hunger or fullness levels.

  • Can be inflexible and don’t account for varying needs of the body: Just like our emotional needs very day to day, our hunger levels, and what brings us joy, pleasure does too. There is no such thing as perfect.

  • The irony of thought suppression: Don’t think of a pink elephant…. did you think of a pink elephant right? This is exactly what happens when we try to not eat something because we’ve been told not to. A large body of research indicates that thought suppression is ineffective.

  • The last supper effect: For many, just the anticipation of sticking to a new food rule is enough to trigger overeating. A study on chocolate lovers found that when the chocolate restriction was imposed for 3 weeks, it triggered an increase in the amount of chocolate eaten both before and after the restrictive period.

  • The forbidden fruit effect: A large body of research on children has identified that when we tell them not to eat that specific food (red M&Ms for example), the red M&Ms received the most attention and consumption. The same goes when you tell the children not to eat fruit… This means it’s not just an effect that is related to high fat and high sugar foods. It’s the forbidden factor that drives the want to eat the food.

  • Overeating: Restrained eaters are more likely to overeat at just the perceptions of breaking a food rule. Studies have identified that the mere perception of blowing rule was enough to result in eating past comfortable fullness. 

(*Diet culture is a system of beliefs that worships thinness and equates it to health and moral virtue. This can make people spend a lot of their lives thinking they are irreparably broken just because you don’t look like the impossibly thin ideal.)

So How Do I Move Away From Food Guilt?

In short…

  1. Unlearning
  2. Re-learning why there is no reason to feel food guilt.
  3. Challenging 
  4. Time
  5. Patience
  6. Self-compassion
  7. Repeat 

Once again. 

You LEARNED to feel food guilt.

Therefore you can unlearn it. 

Intuitive Eating is an evidenced based framework designed to help people break out of a negative relationship with food. A key principle is challenging the food police! 

ACTIVITY: Identifying your food rules

It’s impossible to know what you’re working with if you don’t know explicitly what the rules in your head are. Take some time to have a good think about what these are. I strongly encourage writing them down. There is something in the power of having these written down in front of you. 

  • Do you have rules around snacking?
  • What about what time of day is okay to eat?
  • Do you look at calories to determine what to eat?
  • What about rules around drinks?
  • Are there any foods you try to avoid?

Challenging food rules can help to remove food guilt

Follower concern: “I followed the slimming world plan on and off for a long time – never really getting anywhere- but it’s kinda stuck in my head. I can have days where I feel guilty for eating bad or foods not considered okay on Slimming World, and just go down a rabbit hole of continuing to eat badly because what’s the point”

The only real way to move away from food guilt is to challenge the rules that have been picked up along the way. When you challenge them, you get to discover for yourself, what feels good for you. Rather than have someone decide this for you. Because ultimately, all food should be guilt free

Start with a rule that feels the least scary. Take a look at where this rule came from. Is it backed up by science? Or is it something that came from a personal trainer unqualified to provide nutrition advice back in the day and has just not left you?


Rule: “Carbs are bad. I should not have them past 12pm even if I crave them”

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Should I really never eat carbs past 12pm?
  • Aren’t there times in the day when I do in fact eat a lot of carbs?
  • How do I feel when I don’t eat carbohydrates in the day?

Reframe the thought:

  • “My past experiences demonstrate that when I try not to eat carbs past 12pm, I have little energy and find myself eating a lot of carbs at night anyway.”

Reflection after challenging the rule:

  • “My past experience demonstrates that when I add carbs to my meals throughout the day and in the afternoons, I feel more in control around my eating in the evening.”

What if I feel out of control?

Follower concern: “I find that the biggest challenge is the guilt and shame that follows a binge. It’s hard to not fixate on what just happened and to move on.”

A natural response to deprivation and restriction is to feel out of control. And that’s why it’s important to go into this with a safety blanket on.

The safety blanket is full of:

  • A ton of self-compassion
  • Rest and sleep
  • Not being too hungry when challenging yourself – the primal drive to eat can take over and result in feeling more out of control
  • Be in a safe environment – whether this is at home, on your own, at work, with loved ones. Whatever feels right for you.

It can take time to challenge food rules, and it’s expected that your brain may have conflicting messages. You might have a diet brain on the one side telling you to restrict and stick to the rules, whilst you’re trying to challenge them at the same time! 

The more you challenge the rules that aren’t serving you, the more the judgmental thoughts will dissipate over time. This takes time and patience.

If you’re feeling like this is too much on your own, or you think you have an eating disorder, it’s important to seek support from a qualified professional. You can also read more on “how to have better self-control around food“. 

To summarise

We’ve learnt that food guilt can be caused by the felt sense of breaking a rule. Whilst some gentle education around nutrition can be helpful, diet culture often inflicts more rigid and inflexible rules. These rules can consume our thoughts, and result in a backlash effect of rebellion eating and feeling out of control. 

The positive thing is, you’ve learned these thoughts. So you can unlearn them! And when you’re clear on what these rules are, you can start to challenge them, one by one. With this, a safety blanket of compassion, time and patience is required. But you can do this, I know you can! And if you’re stuck, it might be worth investing in some professional support to help you navigate through.

I’m rooting for you!



“I Literally Can’t Stop Eating”

“I Literally Can’t Stop Eating”

“I Literally Can’t Stop Eating”

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I literally can’t stop eating”. It’s not fun to feel out of control around food. In this article we will delve into why you might feel like you can’t stop eating and how to get to grips with.

Do any of the following sound familiar?

“When I start eating, I literally can’t stop eating even when full. Is there something wrong with me?”


“The biggest struggle is to stop eating when I am full already and do not feel like eating anymore. Even when I fell totally stuffed I have this stupid “all or nothing” mentality and try to use the situation to eat as much “forbidden” food as I can.”

If so, you’re not alone. There are challenges I hear in clinic time and time again, and I know that it can feel so frustrating.

For this week’s article, I interviewed Isa Robinson, a Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr) and qualified Nutritional Therapist (BANT, CNHC). She has a special interest in disordered eating, food anxieties, body image and nutrition for mental health.

Below, Isa shares her top tips in response to “I literally can’t stop eating”.


Tip 1: Ditch the diet mentality and give yourself unconditional permission to eat

Before we can figure out how to stop eating when we are full, we have to zoom out. We have to consider our overall relationship with food and our eating behaviours.

We can’t expect to stop eating a certain food if we believe we’re never going to get that food again. This is an all too common trap of the “good” and “bad” food mentality. It can set us up to eat past the point of comfortable fullness.

How can we stop at one slice of cake on a cheat day when we know we’re not going to get that food again for some time? It can sound like:

“Well I’ve blown it now, I might as well eat X, Y and Z too because today is a bad day, but tomorrow I’ll be good”.

We can end up eating vast quantities of foods to fit them in before they’re all banished to the “off-limits” list again.

The worst part? We often blame ourselves for lack of control or willpower. The problem is not you, it’s diet culture.

When we know we can have a certain food whenever we like, it becomes easier to stop when we feel satisfied. So, before we even start thinking about fullness, we will need to ditch the diet mentality. The diet mentality refers to idea’s of “good” and “bad” foods, “off-limits” foods, cheat days etc. We need to make peace with certain foods so that we can truly trust that we can have them again.

Tip 2: Learn what fullness feels like for you

How can you aim for a target of stopping eating when full if you don’t know what the target is? Part of learning to respect comfortable fullness is learning what fullness feels like for us. And doing so from a non-judgemental and curious stance.

ACTIVITY: What is fullness?
What comes into your mind when I say comfortable fullness?

  • Are there already some judgements coming up? If so, what do you notice?
  • Does this have positive/negative connotations?
  • Perhaps you might think of an extreme like Christmas day/thanksgiving fullness?

It’s going to feel a bit different for everyone. Some common descriptions to help us get started include

– feeling a stretching of the stomach

– pleasant associations of contentedness

– completeness

– satisfaction

Remember that we want to feel full and not just the absence of hunger.

There can be many factors that interfere with being able to recognise or respond to fullness signals. For example, eating when distracted, being conditioned to finish our plates and a history of food insecurity.

ACTIVITY: distraction-free meals

Practicing some distraction-free meals and mid-meal pauses. This can help to identify emerging sensations of fullness.

Tip 3: Respond to hunger appropriately  

An important part of figuring out how to stop eating when full is how we respond to hunger.

Diet culture encourages us to stave off our hunger rather than act and respond to it. We can trick our body’s into this in the short term. But at some point, our cells will take over. When we start dipping into our primal or extreme hunger, it’s very common to experience rebound eating.

Think of a petrol tank on a car getting to zero, rebound eating is then eating all the way up to full. This is way past the point of comfortable fullness. It is a normal response to hunger that’s hardwired into our DNA. When we were hunter-gathers on the savannah, going through a period of famine, we weren’t going to stop at comfortable fullness. We needed to eat in excess in case we weren’t able to eat again soon. Our bodies don’t know the difference between this and now where there’s pretty much a Pret on every street.

Bottom line: it’s going to be impossible to stop eating when full if we’re not eating enough or responding to our hunger cues properly.


Tip 4: Check the staying power of your food and take caution with air foods

Unfortunately, our current diet/wellness culture has normalised under-eating.

If you’ve had lettuce cups for lunch, it’s hardly surprising to find yourself deep in a box of celebrations later in the afternoon.

That’s because lettuce cups don’t have “staying power”.

To have staying power, a meal required fat, protein, carbohydrates and fibre. Fats add flavour, taste and texture, whilst increasing physical feelings of satiety. Protein also has a satiating impact. Carbohydrates help to balance blood sugars. Fibre adds bulk whilst slowing down the absorption of glucose for slow-release energy.

Going low carb (aka swapping bread for leaves) and/or low fat (aka removing the salad dressing) means removing some of the staying power. And tasty bits! In this case, it’s likely we’ll be on the prowl for something to fill the void.

Consistently eating foods with staying power, as well as actually having the delicious parts of the meal that hit the spot is important. It will mean that both our stomachs and our cells will feel satisfied. This can give us that feeling of comfortable fullness. When we also know that we can have those foods again, it will become much easier to stop eating when full.

Tip 5: Don’t turn it into a rigid rule – (Pssst…It’s okay to eat granny’s apple pie)

This process is about respecting our bodies and our fullness. It’s not about having to stop as soon as we’re full as a rule.

Intuitive Eating is not the hunger and fullness diet. It’s very important that the diet mentality doesn’t get its claws into this part of the process. Because we know that this can backfire making it harder to tune into our body’s needs.

Food is about so much more than obtaining nutrients and energy. It’s social, pleasurable, a way of experiencing new places and celebrating various traditions. There will be times in our lives when we are comfortably full, but we still want to eat. For example, birthday cake, Christmas pudding or Grandma’s apple pie on Sunday lunch because no one can make it as good as she does.

Remember there is no such thing as perfect so in these circumstances. Trust that your body is smart and that the fullness will pass. You don’t need to compensate, you haven’t done anything wrong, you are just a human being. 

So what do I do if I literally can’t stop eating?

Each of the tips above provided by Isa, offer some excellent insight into why you feel like you literally can’t stop eating. One of the most important steps in my experience, is eating enough food throughout the day, by noticing and responding to natural hunger signals.

You can find our more about Isa Robinson via her website

How To Have Better Self-Control With Food

How To Have Better Self-Control With Food

How’d you like to learn how to have better self-control with food? 

Follower concern: “Kat, I’m sick of how society currently provides an overload of information on what we should or shouldn’t be eating and how we should or shouldn’t look. It paints a mixed picture in which ’strength’ means being constantly disciplined, thin, healthy, happy and IN CONTROL. But this need to be so in control around food, often seems to lead to my most out of control eating behaviours.”

Hey, thanks so much for sharing your experiences. I couldn’t agree more! We’re told to stay “in control” which is portrayed as “superiority” and actually the messages around food and bodies often have the opposite effect and lead to eating that feels out of control.

Below I am sharing some common reasons why people can feel out of control around food, and how to have better self-control. They might be different to answers that you will find elsewhere on Google! 

Step 1: The pursuit of weight loss needs to move aside

Follower concern: “I have an issue with restriction and binge eating. I feel like I can’t control it either way and I find the messages confusing. Intuitive eating conflicts in my brain with trying to stay in a calorie deficit. I am desperate to get away from using My Fitness Pal, but I can’t seem to get a sensible handle on eating in a healthy controlled way.”

One important step to have better self-control with food is to led go of pursuing the thin ideal.

We’re led to believe that our weight is something that we have entire control over. This can lead us to trying to eat in a way to fix our bodies into a size that society deems to be acceptable, which can lead to feeling out of control around food. The body is asking for one thing (satisfaction, pleasure, adequate nutrition), but the mind is telling you to do something else (control, restrict, to not go over your calorie limit).

Unfortunately weight control is not that simple. 

If diets worked, we would all be thin, and in fact diets would no longer exist. The staggering truth is that the diet industry is a $60 billion per year industry with an 80-95% failure rate.  

Let that sink in.

The diet industry (which has now morphed into the wellness industry) is making a fortune by selling products and promises with limited evidence of being effective and safe in the long term.

It’s only natural for some very strong emotions to be triggered when we realise we’ve been sold a lie.

I remember when I first learned that permanent weight loss was not sustainable for most people. In a way, it was comforting, because it confirmed my personal experiences and what I had witnessed in others up to that point. It was also very sad, however. I had told myself that if only I could get to my ideal weight, life would be better. Giving up that dream was not easy. And I hold the privilege of being in a thin white body. For those who are in marginalised bodies, giving up the thin ideal can be extremely difficult.

Learning to let go of the pursuit of thinness is not the same experience for those in larger bodies, disabled bodies or bodies of colour. This work is not easy, and we simply need to make it a safer and more accepting environment for all bodies, including marginalised bodies to feel safe in the body they have been gifted.

Step 2: Connect with natural hunger signals

Follower concern: “When it comes to the latter, my main problem is that just one taste of sweet or fattening foods will trigger a binge. That I cannot control myself around food and that the idea of being allowed to eat anything will just lead to uncontrollable bingeing.”

In order to have better self-control with food, we have to learn to make peace with them… that means, allowing them into your life. However, before moving to this stage, you HAVE to rule out the biological drive to eat. This means, being able to tune into subtleties of hunger. We have powerful mechanisms and hormones that drive us to eat, which no amount of willpower will be able to override. It’s near impossible to approach food in a way that’s moderate or conscious when you have a primal drive to eat (you’re hungry).

Think of honouring your hunger as your safety blanket. Being adequately fed throughout the day is key to keeping you calm! 

Tuning into the subtleties of your hunger can be tricky, especially if you’ve been ignoring them for a while. Some common signs include; 

  • Head: achey, light headed, dizzy, distracted, poor concentration
  • Energy levels: tired, sleepy, sluggish, meh
  • Mood: hangry, irritable, cranky, snappy, moody, low
  • Stomach: gurgling, rumbling, emptiness, stomach ache, gnawing, sicky feeling
  • Body: shaky, quivery, low blood sugar, salivating, sicky feeling in throat or chest

My FREE 20-minute audio guide with an actionable workbook offers more guidance on this.

A good “rule of thumb” if you’re really struggling to connect with hunger is to aim for 3 meals, up to 3 snacks a day, with no more than 4-5hours between eating. This is not a rule, rather, an example of what works well for many. It may be worth finding a trained healthcare provider to support you if you’re struggling to connect with hunger and fullness.

Step 3: Be realistic

Follower concern: “I want to learn how to have better self-control my compulsions and be able to stop after a nice treat rather than being drawn back to the cupboard to keep eating more stuff”.

This may be an example of setting standards too high. Far too often, when I work with clients, their perfect / ideal day of eating includes zero “fun foods”, doesn’t make them feel happy, isn’t satisfying, and just doesn’t fulfil their needs! These high expectations can lead to out of control eating. Where you eat more than is perceived to be acceptable, which triggers the sod it mentality – “I’ve ruined it now, I might as well keep going”. Or, last supper thinking – “I will finish this now, and start again tomorrow”. Both of these can drive out of control eating.

To add to that, there are expectations on “how much” is an acceptable amount. For example, telling yourself you should only be able to have “one treat”. What if some days you need more or less to feel satisfied? Putting limitations on what we “should” eat, can lead to out of control eating if we go above this. 

One way how to have better self-control with food, is to check in with your own expectations. Write out what your perfect day of eating might look like, from the moment you wake up, to the moment you go to bed. You can check your ideal against my FREE checklist on “What Eating Well Looks Like”. This can help you to identify if your expectations of yourself are realistic.

Step 4: Challenge your guilty foods

Follower concern: “I feel like I can’t have ‘naughty’ foods very often and certain things never at all. Because of this if I do have these foods I lose control and eat them to excess. For example, when we go on holiday and we eat out a lot, I go crazy and over eat hugely. This doesn’t cause me any discomfort at all physically but only mentally that I feel so bad and frustrated with myself and therefore dread situations where I know I will do this. It’s like I can’t trust myself to trust my full cues – I don’t have any!”

Quite often, the foods we feel out of control are the ones that we’re actively trying to avoid. Having “bad/naughty” foods can induce “last supper mentality” eating. Where our brain isn’t convinced that we will have access to the food again, anticipating future restriction. We therefore feel out of control over the food. In this listener’s case, it might be that post holiday, this listener is anticipating being “good” or “starting again”. This is enough to trigger out of control eating on holiday. There may have even been some form of restriction leading up to the holiday.

The fact that the eating in this listener’s case does not physically feel bad, indicates that they are likely eating an adequate amount of food. However, they have perceived that this is “too much”, based on diet cultures unrealistic standards. This is enough to induce guilt, leading to restrictive behaviour, which in turn fuels out of control eating.

One key way how to have better self-control with food, is to stop labelling foods as good/bad, and eat the food. It’s time to unlearn the food rules that have dictated which foods are “good” and “bad/naughty”.

When you take perceived “bad” foods down off of their pedestal, and bring them onto a level playing field with all other foods (essentially, making chocolate as emotionally charged as a piece of fruit), you get to actually taste the food.

You get to ask: “do I even like this?”, “do I want this right now”, “does this feel good in my body?”, “will I feel deprived if I don’t eat this”, “will this satisfy what I need right now?”. 

This way, you can finally decide what foods make you feel good rather than being driven by their emotional charge. This sounds scary, I know. The biggest fear is that we will just eat ‘junk food’ all the time if we eat our ‘forbidden food’.

Whilst it may feel that is the case in the short term, this dissipates as time moves on when you keep a curious and non-judgemental mindset. This process is called habituation – it’s a scientifically proven thing! 

I am going to use a non-food example to explain habituation.

Imagine buying a new top that you love…

When you first wear it, it feels exciting!

Maybe you even wear it more than normal at first, however, after time it heads into the draw with all of your other clothes. It still feels nice to wear at times, but you’re not obsessed with it like you were at first. The same happens with food. When we allow it in, we get used to it and whilst it may still taste good, it becomes less exciting. 

Let’s look at an example…

Say chocolate is your “forbidden” or “bad” food that you feel obsessed with. You need to be specific about the brand, type and flavour of chocolate. Because if you’re introducing chocolate buttons, chocolate biscuits, chocolate toffees, chocolate icing all at once it will take you 4 x as long to become habitualised to it. Be specific about the brand and flavour!

Next, plan out when you would like to practice eating it whilst giving that chocolate your undivided attention. 

Pick at a time when you’re not too vulnerable (I.e. stressed, tired or hungry). 30-60 minutes after a meal is a good time. Practice eating that food paying attention with all the senses.

Tune into the flavour, texture, smell and emotions that arise. Eating mindfully and without judgement can help us to identify whether we actually want this right now. 

Step 5: Keep a curious open mindset

Follower concern:The internal struggle of, but I want it (chocolate, biscuits), it will make me feel better, then the, no it’ll make you gain weight, you won’t be able to stop, then the eating of XYZ, overeating, then the guilt, and almost the internal criticism, I told you you’d feel like this if you ate it… I eat for comfort, but it ends up feeling very out of control! The guilt afterwards is horrible.

If you tell yourself that when you take a bite, you’re going to eat the whole lot and it will lead to out of control eating, this is exactly what will happen. One way how to have better self-control with food is to challenge your thoughts.

In reality, eating chocolate is not going to make you gain weight. 

When we look at the thoughts, versus reality, it can put things into perspective. 


  • Thought: “Eating chocolate will make me gain weight”
  • Reality: “I try to avoid chocolate, inevitably cave in, feel out of control, eat past what feels physically comfortable, feel guilty, restrict again, which fuels back into the cycle”. 
  • Alternative perspective: “Eating chocolate will not make me gain weight. It may actually provide enjoyment and satisfy a sweet craving so that I don’t feel out of control when I do eat it”.

In addition, the fear of weight gain is an indication of underlying fat phobia that needs challenging. Educating yourself as much as possible about why weight is not an indicator of health is a good idea. Books like Body Respect and Health at Every Size are a good place to start. 

So what’s the verdict on how to have better self-control with food?

As you may have identified from this article, how to have better self-control with food is layered and complex. It’s often rooted in the fear of fatness, and layered in physical restriction (not eating enough or allowing satisfying fun foods in), and/or emotional restriction (allowing the food in, but feel guilty for doing so). The above, require a lot of unlearning, and re-learning, so go easy on yourself.

A good place to start on how to have better self-control with food is to check in with your expectations of yourself. Write out what your perfect day of eating might look like, from the moment you wake up, to the moment you go to bed. You can check your ideal against my FREE checklist on “What Eating Well Looks Like”. This can help you to identify if your expectations of yourself are realistic.