18 Side Effects of Intuitive Eating – Warnings from Dietitians 8


Many health professionals are singing the praises of mindful eating, Intuitive Eating, listening to your body, and opting out of dieting entirely.  But what you might not realize is there are some side effects to going the non-diet route to self care.  I asked a few dietitian and therapist colleagues for their take on what to watch out for.  Before you consider ditching diets and embarking on a journey toward Intuitive Eating, here are their warnings.

Warning: You may experience a tastebud transplant.  You will come to an understanding that there are some foods you are eating that you don’t really like and your tastebuds will thank you for finally exploring and allowing the super yummy foods to come into the rotation. — Kelley Raetzsch, Warrior Dietitian at MyEmbracedLife.com.

Warning: You may notice your ‘sweet tooth’ has disappeared. – Lauren Muhlheim, Psy.D., CEDS

But as Katja Rowell adds, even though eating mindfully may find you satisfied with just one piece of dark high quality chocolate, you might also find that sometimes “a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup hits the spot.” Similarly “You may discover you enjoy fruits and veggies more if you don’t feel like you ‘should’ eat them, but that burger from Wendy’s may taste better too without that side of guilt.”

And apparently your body may start to respond in strange ways to foods that currently make you feel out-of-control:

Warning: You may be able to keep binge foods or trigger foods in your fridge or freezer for months and forget about them! — Elisheva Dorfman, LMFT

Warning: You may begin to trust your own hunger rhythms and distrust the rules and rigidity of dieting. – Kelley Raetzsch, Warrior Dietitian at MyEmbracedLife.com.

Warning: You may find out you’re not nearly as interested in food as you once were. (happened to me. True story. I’m not a foodie after all. I was kind of sad about that for a while.) – Glenys Oyston, RD.

Some of the cautionary tales I collected had to do with how Intuitive Eating might change your social and family life:

Warning: You may be shocked at the healthy relationship your children develop with food and that they are wonderful intuitive eaters. — Elisheva Dorfman, LMFT

Warning: You may find yourself enjoying sharing a great time over great food.  You’ll start eating with the family again and cooking one meal – Tracey Peebles, At the table Nutrition

Warning: You may notice how much conversations evolve around body appearance. – Julia Besner, RD, Fundy Nutrition Consulting

Warning: You may feel a lack of support from your loved ones.  Try not to worry. This perceived lack of support is related to their lack of knowledge of non-dieting and their own nutrition and body issues.  What you may discover is a wonderful online world of support from people in the exact same situation as you and from many non-diet warriors.” – Natalie Thompson, Delectable Dietetics

Others brought up more global, life altering side effects:

Warning:  You might realize it’s not about the food. It’s about you. And learning how to take care of you since you deserve it. Food becomes food again and you learn who you are in the process.  It’s not about perfection. We are emotional creatures. Don’t strive to eliminate emotional eating but managing your emotions in more ways than just food. So you can enjoy food and manage your emotions. It’s such a freeing feeling to know your emotions and food don’t have to control you.” – Kori Kostka, Nourished Body

Warning: You may experience more pleasure and satisfaction in your eating which is an absolutely wonderful feeling. But you may also have to grieve when the ‘thrill’ of food dissipates, as it transforms into its originally intended act of self care and social connection. Self care can sometimes be mundane and lack excitement. Thankfully, this will allow you to explore and experience other excitements and live a more engaged life as your pre-occupation with food, eating and your body diminish.” – Linn Thorstensson, Straightforward Nutrition

Warning: You may find yourself with more time and energy to do the things you love as preoccupation with negative body and food thoughts decreases. – Tom Scully, Reconnect Nutrition

Warning:You’ll stop comparing- your plate to everyone else’s, your body to everyone else’s, etc. You’ll stop obsessing over food and start enjoying it. No more counting, just savoring. – Sarah Curry, Dishing it Out

Warning: You may experience an increased sense of connection with the world. And yourself. – Fiona Sutherland, Body Positive Australia

Many people hope that changing their eating will lead to weight loss.  But these dietitians caution that Intuitive Eating may do something entirely different:

Warning: You may lose the need to lose the weight. You may experience anger at the oppression you have been subjected to once you recognize the truth. – Elizabeth Hall, Live Free or Diet

Warning: You may realize your body is wise and does not need to follow food rules to feel great. – Josée Sovinsky, RD

Warning: You may find that your body has your best interest at heart. – Linn Thorstensson, Straightforward Nutrition

Warning: You may start living your life now instead of waiting till “after you lose weight.” – Vincci Tsui, RD

Dietitian, Erica Leon, shared what a recent client said to her “At times it has been a struggle to be an intuitive eater but I have seen so many changes in myself. I am no longer a slave to the scale and eat what I like. I eat without guilt and have started to enjoy food again.”

Warning Wrap-Up

To sum up, if you dare to say goodbye to diets and jump into Intuitive Eating…be prepared to not only enjoy food more, get better at feeding your body what it needs, lose binge eating tendencies, hit that “balance & moderation” middle ground more often, feel better in your body, enjoy life more and have more time for things outside of the world of food.

You have been warned.


If you’re ready to get off the diet roller coaster and learn more joyful and realistic ways to take care of yourself with good nutrition, schedule a 15 minute FREE discovery call with me: Click here

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8 thoughts on “18 Side Effects of Intuitive Eating – Warnings from Dietitians

  • Becky Henry

    Thank you Adina Person for this light hearted AND very serious article about intuitive eating! I am smiling after reading it and enjoyed how to the point it is. I love that you included the wisdom of so many very wise professionals who have loads of science backing up what they have shared. I’m gladly sharing this with my social media circles.

    If all medical professionals knew this information, we might actually hear them saying helpful rather than harmful things to our kids with eating disorders diagnoses too! Maybe just maybe I’ll live to see the day in which “weight-loss” diets are no longer prescribed to people with health concerns.

    Thank you,
    Becky Henry

  • Jen

    Woohoo! I was fully prepared to be hypercritical of the article, but by “being able to keep trigger foods… ” I got it! LOL

    Thanks!

    • Adina Post author

      Thank you! Yes, eating becomes so much more positive and relaxing and nourishing when we allow our bodies a voice and trust our amazing self-regulatory signals.

  • Dinah Yerushalmi

    As a Dietition it can be a risky business advocating intuitive eating when the accepted paradigm is weight loss. However I do always after years of working with eating disorder sufferers. Weight loss is stiil prescribed wherever I work outside of the ED sphere. Today I started a Gastro course and was told thst weight loss was considered also a treatment goal for GERD even for average sized people based on a correlation with BMI and reflux in the Nurses’ Study. I spoke up and asked why prescribe it when it is most likely only a temporary solution and has many negative possible side effects.

    • Adina Post author

      Yes totally on the risky business front! I can’t believe weight loss is broadly suggested for GERD based on one correlation study. So disturbing. Just thinking of weight loss as something you can “prescribe” is bizarre, right? I mean you can prescribe a medicine, or a specific course of action, but weight loss is an outcome. It’s like prescribing good cholesterol. What is the action or step? How likely will that action lead to the desired result? Preaching to the choir I know 😉

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