"If I Eat What I Want, Will I Gain Weight"? (If This Is Your Fear, Read On😉)
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“If I Eat What I Want, Will I Gain Weight?” (If This Is Your Fear, Read On)

When you’re obsessed with controlling your food intake, body size, and the number on the scale, the concept of “eating what you want” sounds foreign, frightening, and downright impossible.  Our biggest fear comes to light: “If I eat what I want, will I gain weight?!”.

Left to our own devices, we’re convinced that we will inevitably gain 10, 40, 100 pounds.

if i eat what I want, will I gain weight

 Our thoughts go something like this:

If I eat what I want, my clothes will no longer fit.

I can’t allow myself a dessert today, or I’ll lose control of my diet.

If I don’t carefully monitor my food intake at every meal, I’ll gain weight.

I’m afraid if I let myself eat what I want, I’ll lose control and gain 100 pounds.

We think we must control our bodies, or the pounds will pile on. Often times, we translate “eating what we want” to mean “eating everything in sight”.

Because we have put ourselves on a strict food plan, a crazy exercise regime, or obsessively cycled between binging and restricting, we want those things that we’ve deemed forbidden.

We’ve banished cookies from our diets, so we gaze longingly at the bags of Chips Ahoy in the supermarket. Bread, pasta, and carbs are strictly limited in our daily menu, so we wrestle with ourselves when we want to order spaghetti while out to dinner. We’ve mandated that we eat oatmeal and yogurt for breakfast, and struggle when we wake up on Sunday and want chocolate chip pancakes.

What if you DID allow yourself to have pancakes?

Or let yourself eat a few pieces of cake and enjoyed every bite?

Even (*gasp!) ordered fettuccine alfredo at dinner with a side of garlic bread?

Or let yourself have a brownie as your lunch? 

What would happen if you allowed yourself to begin to eat what you truly wanted? Sounds scary at first, huh? It is.

It is scary, until you begin to experiment with it and see what happens when you DO let yourself have some of those things you’ve banned from your “acceptable” list.

At first you may want all those foods you secretly denied yourself for so many years. But it will all even out. You won’t crave brownies and ice cream for every meal forever. You won’t want pizza for the rest of your life.

It can seem like you will want that at first, though. And that’s where the faith and trust in the process come 🙂

It is 100% possible to live a life where you satisfy yourself at each meal, eat what you want, and still maintain your natural weight.

Because eating what you want doesn’t mean binging until the cows come home. It means learning how to honor your body in a way that feels healthy and satisfying.

Here are three steps to begin to do just that:

1. Start With Your Forbidden Foods:

When you give yourself permission to have those foods you’ve banned from your diet, the lure becomes less seductive. If you have a few pieces of candy throughout the week, you’ll be less likely to devour your coworker’s entire candy jar. When you allow yourself to have a scoop of ice cream after dinner, you won’t find yourself finishing the carton on Sunday night.

When you relax your framework of your food, ease and balance settles in.

Incorporating your “forbidden foods” into your life a few times a week or month, enables those foods to lose their temptation.

2. Experience Changes Beliefs:

The belief that if you listen to your hunger, you will gain weight and lose all control you have of your world is a very real, all-consuming fear. The decision to begin to experience listening to your body is terrifying. And yet, it is also freeing.

It is freeing to live your life without the obsession of body size and food pervading every area of your life. This mindset shift takes experience; it doesn’t happen overnight.

Your body needs experience with eating what you want so you BELIEVE you won’t spiral out of control. 

Take small steps.

Start with one meal a day where you allow yourself to eat what you want. And use this experience to propel you forward into believing you CAN have what you want.

This experience of realizing you don’t gain 5 pounds after you eat a meal begins to build confidence in your new belief.

3. Begin to Trust:

Trusting your body means trusting yourself. Do you trust yourself to be alone with a bag of M & Ms? Do you struggle to pick something on a menu if it’s not considered “healthy” in your mind? Can you allow yourself to have a piece of cake at a party?

When you start to trust yourself around food, you trust yourself in all other areas of your life. When you’ve lived your life trying to control your food and body size, trust is a terrifying notion. How will you ever control yourself? How will you manage your weight? Will you start eating and never stop?

These questions loom large, but it begins with trust.

Trusting that you WILL know when to stop eating.

Having faith in your body that it WILL regulate and maintain its natural weight.

Believing that your hunger and cravings WILL subside.

Take a risk and begin to trust your body. It is so worth it.

Following these helpful hints will begin to shift your mindset towards believing and knowing that you CAN eat what you want and not gain a million pounds.

Begin small-try one meal each day this week and allow yourself to eat what you want. How do you feel? Share in the comments below!

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  • I am at the opposite end of the deprivation spectrum right now, I gave up on dieting a couple months ago and indeed, “eating whatever I want” has turned into “eating everything in sight.” I have gained weight (a whole size!!), I feel out of control and filled with shame every day yet I can’t rein myself in. I am bingeing on my forbidden foods nearly every night. I don’t know how to bring myself back under control without dieting, I don’t know any other way.
    That said, I haven’t “bitten the bullet” and tried intuitive eating so I probably need to get on that to find a new headspace.

  • Hi Carolyn! Thanks for your honesty and sharing a part of your story. I’m glad you haven’t bitten the bullet yet… I know it seems hard right now, because your body may still be in the rebalancing mode. I.E. if you’ve restricted and binged for years, getting the hang of the whole “finding your middle ground” with eating what you want doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice to learn what your body is really saying, what your mind is saying, and what the melding of the two together is. The eating everything in sight is your body rebelling from telling it what it can’t have for years. This is normal! I also went through a phase like this. A journal exercise could help you figure out more about your forbidden foods…journaling about what do you truly believe is still forbidden? Why do you feel like these foods are on that list? Are you “secretly” restricting in another way? Reflecting on these answers may bring you some more clarity around your eating and what you really need/want. You’ve got this 🙂 XO

  • I’m doing it, even if it’s the smallest ways (which are huge ways, to me!). When making my toddler’s sandwich, I allow myself to lick the peanut butter off the knife afterwards…. I will pop a couple of cubes of cheese into my mouth while preparing dinner and not feel the need to log, weigh or calculate every morsel. I’ve actually stopped logging everything! I have ordered takeout, which I used to never do when I was in the throws of disordered eating. And yes, I’ve gained some weight, but I trust that it will regulate. I have to remember that my body is smarter than my mind!

    Oh, and it feels amazing to not be hungry all the time!

  • what if you’ve given up on the diet cycle for the past 2 or so years, and your weight still hasn’t returned to reasonable (i don’t mean that perfect image you want for yourself, but the weight you know your body should be, not the one you would love it to be)? it’s true that it has stabilized for the most part, but after the initial binging and associated weight gain, it hasn’t come back down…

  • Sonia, this is amazing! So many amazing shifts for you. Keep up the great work 🙂 Thanks for sharing and being an inspiration to others on this journey!

  • First of all, well done for leaving the diet cycle behind! That is HUGE. This could be your body asking for a next step…I’d explore your food choices and amounts. Are you eating in a way that’s nourishing, satisfying and nutritious? Do you find you’re overeating for emotional or stressful reasons? Are you getting foods that are balancing and energizing for you? It’s possible (after you’ve left the diet cycle behind) to begin exploring these questions not in a restrictive way, but in a “taking care of my body” way 🙂

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