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From Dieting Rock Bottom to Intuitive Eating: 3 Common Mistakes

gentle nutrition intuitive eating menopause nutrition

Having the confidence to say farewell to dieting and diet culture is no small feat. It’s liberating and exciting, but almost always unbearably vulnerable with a side of terror. So much about intuitive eating sounds enticing until you realize there are no rules to follow, and you end up second-guessing yourself -and every bite you take.  


The good news is that you’re not alone. But chances are you are getting caught up in all of the misinformation out there about intuitive eating. In this episode, I’m diving into three of the most common hiccups that can slow your un-dieting transition down. For one, intuitive eating may not feel intuitive in the beginning. Before we can get in touch with what our bodies need, we have to do the work of recognizing the damage the default programming of dieting has done to our brains, bodies, and emotions. 

 Another hurdle to overcome in this messy middle is understanding that it is still okay, and even necessary to be mindful and intentional about food choices. The goal of gentle nutrition is to land somewhere between what your body needs and what your body wants. This shift happens when we embrace that our ‘why’ is no longer about a number on a scale or focused on food restriction. Our why becomes developing a relationship with food that supports our overall health- without being consumed with food decisions 24/7.

The last challenge I unpack in this episode is a tricky one. It’s the assumption that if our bodies change as a result of making this transition, we’re doing it wrong. The truth is that our weight is actually not a behavior we can control. Body size is determined by several factors, of which diet and exercise are only two. While you might recognize a change in your body at first, intuitive eating more commonly leads to weight stabilization, freeing you up from the dreaded yo-yo impact of dieting. It also empowers you to become more confident in your body and embrace a more flexible sense of self! 

 So if you realize that one or all of these misconceptions about intuitive eating is making you second-guess yourself, then I have a simple way to get you unstuck. For the entire month of June, I’m offering 7 days of FREE access to my Intuitive Eating Beginner’s Course. Grab that link HERE and discover how to make this transition with more support and confidence at every step of your journey!

 In this episode, you’ll learn: 

  • How transitioning from strict diets to intuitive eating involves unlearning and rebuilding a healthy relationship with food and nutrition
  • Why you can still be intentional without being rule-based as an intuitive eater
  • Why our weight is not a behavior within our control
  • The unsexy truth: intuitive eating is a process that requires time, patience, and tons of self-compassion
  • Why embracing body neutrality and feeling confident in your body are the most common and best gifts of intuitive eating 



Jenn Salib Huber 0:02
Hi, and welcome to the midlife feast the podcast for women who are hungry for more in this season of life. I'm your host, Dr. Jenn Selena Huber. Come to my table. Listen and learn from me. Trusted guests, experts in women's health and interviews with women just like you. Each episode brings to the table juicy conversations designed to help you feast on midlife. Hi, everyone, welcome to this week's episode of the midlife feast. So this is a solo episode. And it's kind of funny because I changed the title of this three or four times. But it's actually an episode that has been kind of living in my head kind of living in a note in my phone for a while, and really came together after a post on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, answering the question, Am I doing something wrong? If I don't feel like Intuitive Eating is quote unquote, working for me. So it's kind of actually an interesting chance to talk about the podcasting process. Because people often ask me, you know, what's your process? How does it work? And I think like most people who who are working or have a podcast, there is a process. It's not set in stone, but still a creative process. So there is some best laid plans. And then there's the this doesn't fit right now. So I want to do something else. And then there's the this is absolutely the right time. I have to do this episode this week. So today is Monday, May 29. And this one is coming out next week. I think that's the fifth of June. Because it feels like we need to talk about this now. So like I said, a couple of weeks ago, I had this post on Instagram, which brought up I think, probably close to 100. Conversations messages over the last couple of weeks about Yes, this is me. I stopped dieting a few weeks ago, a few months ago, a few years ago. But now I'm not sure if what I'm doing is intuitive eating. I'm not sure if I'm doing it right. I always wonder if I should go back to dieting or I wonder if I should look for a plan. What is flexible eating? What is moderation? So all of these questions and conversations were coming up. And I had been getting ready to open a new Intuitive Eating course to the midlife East community just as part of that membership. And then that made me think, okay, maybe actually, for June, we should change the theme from protein, which was going to be one of the themes in this new menopause nutrition and dieted mini series that I'm doing. But I think we need to actually make the theme all about intuitive eating. So that's a long way of saying that this was not on the schedule, but it actually has been living in my head as an idea. And like most of my ideas, also has a note on my phone. And I had lots of lots of ideas over the last week or so about what I wanted to do to help people move out of this messy middle. So we're starting with this podcast where I'm going to talk about some of the things that happen after we hit dieting rock bottom. So first, we're going to talk about what is dieting rock bottom, what does that even mean? We're going to talk about some of the normal phases of going from someone who has only ever followed a plan, or a set of rules or a set of guidelines for making decisions about food to becoming an intuitive eater, and trusting your body's cues to tell you what when how much why to eat all through this framework of attunement and not having a diet mentality. So first, let's start by talking about what is dieting rock bottom. I know I'm gonna get lots of messages about this because it is I think, this a jumping off point for people who have been in the diet mentality or diet culture or even wellness culture, where you're so used to looking to a set of rules or these guidelines for deciding what you should eat. But all of a sudden, whatever you've been doing, whether that's using an app, whether it's even just writing it down, you just feel like you can't you literally can not do it anymore. I think I actually talked about this in my Keto episode from last summer. You know, we're after keto was kind of my dieting rock bottom where I just couldn't do it anymore. I could not bring myself to pursue this number on the scale, as I had been doing for most of my adult life and Ah life. So this dieting rock bottom is definitely part of the messy middle, you know, you, you just can't start another diet, but you also don't know what to do. Because you still feel like something isn't right. It's not like you hit dieting rock bottom and then all of a sudden wake up and, and love yourself and your body and feel confident in it and about it. It is not that simple. But it is kind of this, this landmark, I think that a lot of people will identify in their journey to becoming a more intuitive eater. So what often happens is that people will get into this phase of not dieting, and kind of wonder if maybe that's just it. Okay, well, is that all I have to do is not diet? Will Intuitive Eating be intuitive? Will I just know what to do? And I often say that, yes, there is a part of intuitive eating, which we always have with us. We're born intuitive eaters, babies and young children are such great examples of intuitive eating at work. And I think we all know that, you know, the process of, of listening to our hunger cues, for example, is somewhat, you know, driven by? Well, it is driven by biology and physiology, that when we need refueling, we feel hunger. But as we all know, that's not the only reason that we eat. And it's often all of those other reasons that kind of get us stuck in this messy middle. So you hit dining rock bottom, and you decide that you want to become an intuitive eater. So maybe you read some books, maybe you pick up, you know, the workbook, or the intuitive eating book, maybe you listen to some podcasts, maybe you start following people on social media. But if you're like a lot of the people that I ended up talking to or working with, there are three common mistakes. I don't know should I call them mistakes, let's just call them polices. Because I don't want to put a value judgment on them. Because I think it's all part of the process, right? We're committed to the process of learning to eat intuitively. And so there are all of these speed bumps, let's call them speed bumps that we hit along the way, that are really, really common. So I want to kind of talk a bit about those. So the first is believing that just the act of not dieting, not following a set of rules will allow us or lead us to intuitive eating. And like I said, some of that is true, some of it is intuitive, I think that there is a much, much better chance of eating intuitively on your own if you're not following rules. But if you have never, if you can't remember, the last time you weren't on a diet, it probably isn't going to come to you as quickly or as easily as we would all like. So this is where the underwriting process, which is unlearning all the things that you think you know about food and health and your body and nutrition, and then rebuilding them back up with intention through the process of learning about intuitive eating, which of course includes conversations about gentle nutrition will make the process more intuitive. But don't put the pressure on yourself to just wake up and know how to eat intuitively. If, like I said, if you have only ever followed a set of rules, this isn't going to be intuitive, but it can be can because everybody can learn this. I truly 100% believe that to be true.

Jenn Salib Huber 8:39
The second mistake is the idea that because it's called intuitive eating or the second speed bump, we're not going to call it a mistake. But the second speed bump is that because it's called intuitive eating, that there's no intention or thinking involved in the process. This is also where I think some people get tripped up because they'll start to wonder if well, if I'm thinking about choosing a salad because it's quote unquote healthy or good for me, is that no longer intuitive. And it's actually a great example where we can talk about how gentle nutrition is the sweet spot between what your body wants, and what your body needs. But when you're choosing it for reasons other than how you think it's going to influence your weight or the scale or your pant size. You can find that sweet spot in between what you want and what you need much, much more intuitively and easily. But we can also add in things that are nutritious things that add to our nutrition that support our health, that support our health, even through nutrition. We can add in foods that are high in fiber because they're good for us. But we can also add in foods that are high in fiber that we enjoy. We don't have to add them When only because they're high in fiber, nor do we have to add in the ones that are highest or best or whatever other kind of value statement that you want to make about food. Because as we move away from this moralization of food, we move away from good foods, bad foods, foods we should eat for foods we shouldn't eat, we learn to talk about food, for what it adds to our nutrition and our health. So we can choose vegetables, because they're high in fiber and antioxidants, we can choose foods that are high in protein that we enjoy, because they help to support building muscle and strong bones, we can choose foods with intention, without needing to turn it into a diet. But that is definitely a bit of a slippery slope, if you haven't gone through the process of really digging into the principles of intuitive eating. So that the 10 principles of intuitive eating teach us about adopting that anti diet mentality. And you may not be on a diet, but you could still have a diet mentality around food. So some examples would be eating vegetables, because you should, that's the example of a diet mentality, or putting half of filling half of your plate with vegetables first, that's the dieting mentality. So even if you're not on a diet, there may still be signs of the diet mentality that are showing up in your relationship with food and your decision making process about food. So as you learn these 10 principles, and we kind of circle back to gentle nutrition, we can see how Yes, we can actually think about food, talk about food, choose things because we want to highlight or add in an aspect of you know, nutrition or food. But we're not doing it with the idea of pursuing intentional weight loss as the front and one and only goal. And then that kind of leads into the third speed bump, which is, even when you feel like you have adopted this anti diet mentality, even when you feel really confident that you're applying gentle nutrition without food rules, you may still feel like you're doing something wrong. If your body has changed in the process of becoming an intuitive eater. This is probably the biggest speed bump that I see in the people that I work with, but also just in the conversations that I have with people. Because we're so used to using the scale and the number on the scale. As a judgment of you know, it's the judge in the jury about whether what we're doing is right. So how do we work our way around that? How do we one not feel like that's a new dieting rock bottom? And or how do we stay out of the diet cycle when we have that thought or feeling. So the diet cycle, just to remember is that series of predictable events that happens when we feel like we need to start a diet that leads us to control food, count food, measure food, follow a set of rules, that initially feels good, but then starts to make us feel deprived. And then we get, you know, it gets harder and harder to stick to the diets where we eventually give up or fall off the wagon. And then the whole thing starts all over again. But how do we prevent that from happening? If we feel like our body has changed, so intuitive eating isn't about isn't anti weight loss. And I feel like I say that all the time. But I do feel the need to say that it's not anti weight loss. Nor does it support pursuing intentional weight loss as a proxy for health. So what it means is that when you're learning to eat intuitively, your body may have a correction to be done. Meaning that if the size and shape that your body was at before, which could be the size and shape of the body that you're trying to get back to, if that body can only be achieved through restriction and control and really counting calories are maintaining that caloric deficit indefinitely. That is probably not where your body is going to land when you're eating intuitively. And that is often a scary place but I do want to qualify that because I can already hear people kind of saying well then that's not for me. If Intuitive Eating is going to you know lead to any increase in my size or shape or weight than Intuitive Eating is definitely not for me if that's you please stay safe for the next few minutes and let me talk you down off that ledge Okay. One, weight is not a behavior. We cannot choose what we weigh. Because weight regulation is achieved through this really complex series of metabolic Can environmental factors. So if you think of the back of a watch, and you take that back plate of the watch off, you're gonna see all of these gears, you know dozens of them all of these pieces and parts. The same is kind of true with our, our metabolism, as it were that food and movement may be two of those parts, but they're not everything. And so since size and shape has many influences, the largest of which is actually genetics, you can't choose what you weigh. So if weight isn't a behavior, then what are we focusing on with intuitive eating, with intuitive eating, we're trying to focus more on the behaviors around food that we can choose that we can put some intention and, you know, willful thought into without making the number on the scale, the outcome of success or failure. And what that results in is people who have a more flexible sense of self. So this body neutrality concept that you've probably heard me talk about before, intuitive eaters are more likely to place less emphasis on what their body looks like. They are more likely to feel more confident in and about their bodies, they are more likely to choose behaviors, including movement, that are, you know, that support their overall health. And they're more likely to do those things consistently, in the long term. So they're off of that on again, off again, yo yo dieting weight cycling bandwagon.

Jenn Salib Huber 16:49
What that usually leads to is a weight stabilization. And I'm going to say, usually, and I'm still going to qualify that this is not a prediction or a guarantee, because we don't actually know what happens. Sometimes people's bodies change and get smaller. Sometimes they change and get bigger. And sometimes they say the same. But the goal is to achieve and find a relationship with food that allows you to eat without having to think about food all the time, without having to count measure track, without having to worry that you're making the wrong decisions or without having to think about every snack and meal that also supports your health. So we're using health outcomes, and how you feel in your body. As really the best guide as to whether or not your relationship with food is serving you in this moment. And that doesn't mean it's not going to change. So this is actually one of the things that comes up in you know, in menopause and in midlife is that we do sometimes have to have these conversations about foods that are more intentional. So let's talk about you know, cholesterol or higher blood sugar or anything else that may benefit from a change in how you're eating or adding in. But we're using those health outcomes as the measure of progress. We're not using your size or your shape. So to recap that long ramble. Your body may change as a result of eating intuitively, but we don't know what that change is going to look like. So don't make the change, a measure of success or failure, because weight is not a behavior that we choose. Learn to make your health and how you feel in your body and how you feel about your relationship with food. To be more important, I'm not going to say to never use the scale, I wouldn't and I would love for people to get there. But I also know that for many people, dieting is a coping mechanism. It is how you have coped with feeling uncomfortable in your body for as long as you can remember, and letting go of the scale, which has been part of that coping may feel really scary. So don't feel like you have to do that right away. But I do think that that's a good goal. Because scales are like trapdoors, you can feel like you're going along really well and Everything's going according to plan. And then if you see a number that you don't like, you're just whoosh, you're right down that Snakes and Ladders slide into the diet cycle. So, to recap, we have kind of three speed bumps that people who are learning to eat intuitively, may be in may find themselves in, especially if you feel like maybe Intuitive Eating isn't working for you. So just remember that what you learn through the underwriting process, and the process of becoming an intuitive eater will make it feel more intuitive. Okay, so you aren't we are all born intuitive eaters. But we also have it conditioned out of us. Because of the influences that we've had about food from diet, wellness culture, that it needs to be measured, that it needs to be counted that it needs to be tracked. So you have to unlearn that, and relearn how to eat intuitively. And just because it's called Intuitive Eating doesn't mean that there isn't some thinking involved. In fact, you know, even things like meal planning can be part of the intuitive eating framework, as long as we're staying out of the diet mentality. And then the first, the last is not letting changes in your body, derail you, don't let a change in what your body looks like, especially if how you're eating is actually feeling good. So this is a really important thing, too, is that if how you're eating feels good, it feels sustainable, it feels easy, it feels like Oh, I could definitely eat this way forever. That is what you should focus on. Not the scale. But if like many of the people in the messy middle, you're also feeling like I still feel like there isn't something there's something that isn't quite right, there is something that isn't feeling intuitive or doesn't feel like I have the rhythm and routine of intuitive eating, listen to that as well. So that would be an example of being more in the I'm just not dieting phase. So recognizing that having having a sense of calm contentment, but also a flexible and forgiving relationship with food means that there's going to be ups and downs. And there's going to be times when it's easier to be more intuitive because life is easier. And then when life gets lifee, you might find yourself kind of stuck again, feeling like you're not listening. And that's all part of the process of learning to become an intuitive eater. So at the beginning of the podcast, I was going to actually share something and I totally forgot until this moment. But so going back to this whole change in plans that happened. One of the other things that I decided to do after having these you know, I think close to 100 conversations and messages was to open up this new Intuitive Eating self paced course it's 12 modules, but to open it up to anyone who wants it for seven days, so completely free, no strings attached, this isn't there isn't anything to this other than just sign up for it. And you can have seven days to access this. So this is just a little over an hour, it's divided into 12 modules. It's kind of a deep dive into each of the principles of intuitive eating. So if you're someone who is kind of sort of familiar with intuitive eating, but you've never actually taken a close look at what's involved in the process, you definitely want to sign up for this. So like I said, certainly through June, I'm going to keep this open. It is also the theme inside the midlife peace community is all about intuitive eating. We have four coaching calls that are going to be happening which you are welcome to join the community as well. But if nothing else, if you're feeling stuck, if you're feeling like you're doing something wrong, but you don't even know where to start. This intuitive eating beginners course, is for you. So you can check the show notes. There's a link to it there to sign up. And if you have any questions, let me know. And if after watching it, you think this is exactly what I need. We would love to welcome you inside the midlife peace community where we're talking about intuitive eating all month long. And there's already eight months of information that you can watch at your own pace, all about applying gentle nutrition. There's recorded coaching calls that you can watch, there's all kinds of support for you. So I'm going to end this little ramble by saying that I know it's hard. I know that the process of going from dieting rock bottom to a confident intuitive eater might feel like an insurmountable climb, but I was there and I have seen hundreds of people at this point. Also go from dieting rock bottom to rocking intuitive eating. So find your people were out there. You don't have to do it alone. And believe me, it is worth it. Have a great day. Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of the midlife feast. For more non diet health hormone and general midlife support. Click the link in the show notes to learn how you can work and learn from me. And if you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, please consider leaving a review or subscribing because it helps other women just like you find us and feel supported in Good Life


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