Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating: When old habits creep back in

Once you’ve done intuitive eating for awhile, your weight tends to be more of a curiosity than anything to actually care about.

Until it isn’t.

I didn’t weigh myself much at all while learning to eat intuitively, because the number on the scale used to be a bit of an obsession, and a major source of guilt and shame.

But after feeling firmly settled into my unrestricted eating and body positivity habits, I started to weigh myself again… both out of curiosity, and because my fiancé is always talking about his day-to-day weight fluctuations. We’re scientists and we love our data, for science’s sake. (Did running after that high salt meal negate the water retention? Did we actually manage to lose weight on that beach vacation from all the swimming?)

But today I realized that at some point, it stopped just being data. I’ve noticed that my weight on the scale is affecting how I see myself again, and daily fluctuations are having an influence on my mood.

I’ve been lifting weights more, so this is especially damaging because I want to gain muscle. But my lifelong conditioning is that weight going up = bad.

But either way, why should an arbitrary, irrelevant number have an effect on my mood?

It shouldn’t.

So I’ve stopped weighing myself.

Easy!

If thoughts about my weight creep in, I can just shake them off by deciding that I think I look fine. Instead of the other way around where I let the scale decide how I feel, when otherwise I would have felt happy about how I look.

And, most importantly, I remind myself that it doesn’t really matter either way if I gained a bit of weight.

Would my career suffer if I gained weight? Not at all.

Would my fiancé leave me? Nope.

Would it really affect my life in any way besides my own self-perceptions, which I can easily change? No!

(Now, I know there are some careers and circumstances where gaining a bit of weight could negatively impact your life. But still, feeling bad about yourself won’t prevent it at all. Feeling good about yourself and nourishing your body with satiating foods will prevent it1.)

I’ve found that the key to maintaining intuitive eating is to be mindful of what kinds of thought patterns and habits you might fall into. Some of us may naturally trend back towards bad habits and thought patterns if we’re not actively maintaining our new, better patterns. And that’s okay!

For some of us, thoughts are like teeth that way… without a retainer, they slowly drift back towards old, pre-braces patterns. It’s worth having to pop in a retainer occasionally to avoid being stuck with painfully crowded teeth. We don’t feel bad about ourselves because our teeth do that, it’s just how it is!

So every once in awhile, take a moment to self reflect about your feelings towards yourself and food. Check in with yourself to find any bad habits or worries that are forming, and stop them in their tracks. Better yet, replace them with something good: freedom to eat, self love, and good food.

Here’s a great book on intuitive eating for those looking to get started. I’m also starting a series of every-other-week posts on how to eat intuitively, both for beginners and for those facing issues later on the process (none of us are perfect!), so subscribe to stay tuned!

  1. See my weight loss videos for scientific research on how to lose weight without restricting.

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Welcome!

Hey there!

I’m Miche, and I’m a recovering dieter.

After years of yo-yo dieting & weight gain, I figured out how to stop the cycle, lose the fat, and gain muscle!

So I’m here to share advice on how to eat without rules or restriction and reach your goal body, using scientific research from nutrition & psychology.

…and share recipes, too!

Weight loss isn’t about eating less.

It’s about eating differently.

Losing weight, and especially maintaining it, is about what you eat, and how you go about eating it.

I know, this completely runs against conventional wisdom. But hear me out.

Conventional wisdom doesn’t consider the actual scientific research on how weight loss works.

I do: I’m a PhD student!

I run studies on nutrition & memory, and apply science to my daily life!

There is a lot of great research out there on how to lose weight, and be happier & healthier… but most people don’t know about it, because it’s hard to access & understand.

So I break it down by writing posts & filming videos so you can apply scientific findings to your life!

PS: I also love gardening, so I’ll be sprinkling in some health-related gardening posts here and there 😉

Videos

Study: Overeating sugar doesn’t make you gain weight? | How high carb vegans lose weight on 3000+ calories

Happy Saturday! Today I have a video for you where I go over a scientific study on what happens when people overeat sugar. Specifically, how much sugar you can turn into fat (through de novo lipogenesis), and whether sugar makes you fat.

Study summary

This study compares lean and obese participants in terms of their de novo lipogenesis (DNL), which is the process of converting carbohydrates into fats in the body. The researchers fed people 3 diets for 4 days each: a control diet to maintain their weight, and two overfeeding diets. The participant were in a calorimeter room during these diets to measure exactly what they burned off, and their activity and rest was controlled. The control diet was a pretty normal, Western-style diet: about 50% carbs, 40% fat, and 10% protein.

In both overfeeding diets, they were overfed by 50%, half of which was fat (butter and oil added to meals), and half of which was sugar (sugary drinks). In one overfeeding diet, they were overfed with sugar in the form of glucose, and in the other diet, they were overfed sugar in the form of sucrose. There were no differences in the outcomes by the type of sugar, so I don’t talk about that in the video.

The researchers looked at what happened to the sugar especially: how much of it they burned off, how much of it they turned into fat, and how much it contributed to body fat gain. They also looked at whether fat or sugar leads to more increases in DNL, how the overfeeding diets affected insulin and blood sugar, and more. I spend most of the video going over the results, and what they mean for you!

Here’s a link to the study: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/74/6/737/4737416

Extra science notes

Here are some notes on parts that I cut out of the video, since they’re more for people specifically interested in science!:

  • The effect of increased energy expenditure with the overfeeding diets wasn’t statistically significant, but there was a consistent increase in all 4 overfeeding groups (lean and obese, sucrose and glucose). Given the small number of subjects, it is likely this effect would be significant if more subjects were included. There are also other studies finding this increase in metabolism with increased food intake, which I plan to make another video on too! (e.g., https://www.nature.com/articles/ijo2012202)
  • Fat balance and carbohydrate balance each explained 43% of the variance in DNL. Therefore, it appears that overeating generally rather than solely carbohydrate intake may be responsible for increasing DNL.
  • The numbers on the plot are in kilojoules, which is a standard scientific unit for energy. For the video, I converted it to calories to make it more applicable. If you look at the paper yourself, note that many of the numbers are in kJ (or grams, for macronutrient balances) per 96 hours.
  • The paper was funded by sugar interests, which would be a big problem if it were the only paper showing low rates of DNL like this, or if their main goal was to show how low DNL is. Luckily, there are many other studies showing similarly low rates of DNL, but I chose this one as the example for this video because it was a nice method, published in a top nutrition journal, and made the numbers available. The main goal of this study (aka what the sugar industry wanted) was actually to test the differences between sucrose and glucose in DNL–they found no effect. Also, they focused more on how DNL doubled than how low it was, suggesting their goal wasn’t to push a low-DNL sugar agenda.
  • Here is another paper reaching the same conclusions, from Berkeley and not funded by the sugar industry: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC185982/

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