Anyone ever actually lost weight with Intuitive Eating?

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I'm currently stuck in one of those states of limbo where I have no energy to exercise and no motivation to count calories. I've been in this state since Christmas pretty much. Good news is I haven't gained any weight. Bad news is that my attitude towards 'dieting' or whatever PC term you would prefer to use sucks at the moment...I'm sick of gaining and loosing the same 10lbs, I'm sick of having dieted for over 15 years and still not knowing what it feels like to be slim, I'm sick of my seeing my friends not having to worry about what they eat. And on that note...what's the deal with this apparent obesity epidemic?! Out of all of my friends, on both sides of the Atlantic (Scot living in Canada right now) I'm the only one with a weight problem!! Where do all of the other obese people hang out??!!

Anyway, recently I came across the concept of Intuitive Eating (well more of a rediscovery, I have dabbled before) and I went to the library and got the Intuitive Eating book by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. I loved the idea...I mean what large person with an even larger appetitie and a serious sugar addiction wouldn't love the idea of eating without restriction, always eating when hungry etc etc. I jest, but I do get the idea i.e. retuning into your body's natural hunger signals...I'm a hippy at heart and I do respect the ethos. However I'm also aware that years of eating lots of non-natural things, often in excess, probably sent these signals packing years ago.

So with something to get me fired up again, I went and joined the forum which goes with the book. Naturally, the first board I clicked on was 'Success Stories'. So, out of 6 pages of 'success' stories, not one person had come on to report actually losing any weight! It was all 'oohh I feel so much better about my current weight!', or 'I'm the same weight I was 2 years ago when I started, yay!' or 'I gained 40lbs, but I'm really okay with it!'.

So just puting it out there...has anyone ever lost any weight with IE alone? I get the idea of shifting the weight first and training yourself to eat when hungry etc later...but as an actual weight loss tool?

Also, anyone who would like to give me a kick up the butt for my current attitude is more than welcome to do so ;-)
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Replies

  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,874 Member
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    If your signals and cues don't work, it won't work. I counted calories and lost about 40 Lbs...along the way I re-learned how to eat and re-set those cues. I maintained for another 9 months eating intuitively with no problem.

    I'm currently logging because I'm in another cut...I can't rely on my intuition at the moment because I'm also training for an endurance event and my body intuitively and naturally wants to replenish the energy I've expended training...so I could easily maintain doing what I'm currently doing but my cues are going to have me eating to maintenance.

    I personally think the goal of calorie counting should not only be to lose weight, but to learn proper portion control, moderation, etc...if you don't know those things, you intuitively won't practice them...they are learned. And if you've been an over eater for any length of time, your hormones are messing with your hunger signals and cues.

    Personally, I think intuitive eating is more of a maintenance thing than a cutting/dieting thing.
  • editorgrrl
    editorgrrl Posts: 7,060 Member
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    Nope. Like most of the people you'll find here at MFP, I lost by logging everything I eat accurately & honestly. Logging ain't fun, but it gets better. Now it's like flossing—something I do habitually because it's good for me.

    Read this: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/1080242-a-guide-to-get-you-started-on-your-path-to-sexypants
  • mazmataz
    mazmataz Posts: 331 Member
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    I really should know better...this time 3 months ago I had it all ticking over nicely. I was working through New Rules of Lifting, had my TDEE-20% and macros worked out to the dot, read everything that Sara2k1 and Sidesteel (and you too cwolfman13!) had to say on here...and it felt awesome having that knowledge and control. I just can't get my head back into it, and I guess that reading up on IE convinced me that I was flighting my body and that the nice easy route of basically eating what you like sounded lovely (kidding myself really).

    However the fact that I have trawled the internet looking for one IE weight loss success story and failed says it all really. Like you say wolfman, I think that the system needs to be reset or retrained before anyone can trust their natural eating cues.

    Still, it would be interesting to see if there is anyone out there that this has worked for...? Maybe someone who has only recently had some weight problems?
  • Sabine_Stroehm
    Sabine_Stroehm Posts: 19,263 Member
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    I don't know that I'd say I lost with intuitive eating. But I did lose my weight without counting. I did (and do) a slow carb approach. These days I'm pretty much just doing something resembling south beach phase 3, (with the occasional phase 2 thrown in when I over indulge...there's not much of a difference).

    I lost by trying to build my meals and snacks around nutrient dense, high fiber vegetables, lean meats, dairy, fruits, and some whole grains. The rest took care of itself.

    I've maintained by following basically those principles, but rather intuitively approaching it.

    I logged here for about a year or 2. Didn't gain or lose. I went back to not logging. I've lost a few pounds by eating a bit more deliberately...but still not logging.
  • WendyTerry420
    WendyTerry420 Posts: 13,274 Member
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    If your signals and cues don't work, it won't work. I counted calories and lost about 40 Lbs...along the way I re-learned how to eat and re-set those cues. I maintained for another 9 months eating intuitively with no problem.

    I'm currently logging because I'm in another cut...I can't rely on my intuition at the moment because I'm also training for an endurance event and my body intuitively and naturally wants to replenish the energy I've expended training...so I could easily maintain doing what I'm currently doing but my cues are going to have me eating to maintenance.

    I personally think the goal of calorie counting should not only be to lose weight, but to learn proper portion control, moderation, etc...if you don't know those things, you intuitively won't practice them...they are learned. And if you've been an over eater for any length of time, your hormones are messing with your hunger signals and cues.

    Personally, I think intuitive eating is more of a maintenance thing than a cutting/dieting thing.

    ^^ This. Totally. If you are careful and consistent with logging, you can reset your cues, but I wouldn't trust them until you've done that.
  • flame_retardant
    flame_retardant Posts: 49 Member
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    I might be doing IE 'cus I just eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full. I've been doing this for the last 1.5months - don't think it's made a real difference for me. The big factor was changing what I ate: instead of candy, I ate carrots or peas for snacks. Also cut down on the amount of rice significantly.

    Initially, I felt hungrier 'cus I wasn't used to eating so little rice. But now, my body's adjusted to the smaller portions. So for a week or two, you might have to eat less than what you think you need in terms of carbs and wait for your body to adjust. Just don't limit your vegs & protein, & it should work out.
  • wild_wild_life
    wild_wild_life Posts: 1,334 Member
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    Yeah. Not sure. I think the concept of IE is great but the physiological reality is that our bodies want to keep a little extra fat around. Any weight loss plan based on the assumption that we somehow intuitively "know" the right amount to eat to lose X lbs seems flawed. I think being mindful about what, when, how, where and why we eat is wonderful but am not sure it's quite enough for weight loss without some accompanying strategy for actually eating less than we need.

    Have you looked into intermittent fasting? Meal timing is one way to reduce overall intake without counting calories. Low carb is another. I don't count calories anymore either and my weight was creeping up. I recently started a version of the Warrior Diet where I eat lightly during the day and a larger meal in the evening and this really seems to be helping. I think it's all about strategy -- what is the easiest way to trick ourselves into eating at a deficit. IE is definitely part of it but I doubt it works alone in most cases since our bodies just don't work that way. My $.03.
  • likitisplit
    likitisplit Posts: 9,420 Member
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    I can maintain with intuitive eating but, in order to do anything else, I have to track.
  • concordancia
    concordancia Posts: 5,320 Member
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    Basically, I try to eat intuitively with logging to help me retrain myself.

    My husband's intuitions never broke: it is really hard for him to understand why I struggle and at first he tried to explain that food is just fuel, you just eat when you are hungry...Well, if I can confuse emotions with hungry, I can justify eating all the time!

    In general, I think telling the obese to just follow intuitive eating is pretty ignorant of all of the factors that go into obesity. Yes, we can relearn, but we can't just go from overeating to "intuitive" eating without many, many steps and much time involved. For someone who is just a bit overweight from consecutive five pound holiday gains without losses in between, it is probably a more logical solution.
  • juliacatherine1
    juliacatherine1 Posts: 71 Member
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    I actually first heard about IE in a class called sociology of food and eating and coincidentally it was mentioned after the lecture on how people force themselves to eat a certain way to fit into a certain dress size or for men, to attain that MANLY, muscle man image. The way we eat is that we don't eat food, and we don't rely on our bodies to tell us when to eat. I feel like it's a great idea for a person who doesn't know how to eat as a result of starvation diets for years. It's kind of an ideal idea, but very different.
  • Sunbrooke
    Sunbrooke Posts: 632 Member
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    I can lose weight eating intuitively, but here is the catch; I don't need to lose weight. I have never been a binge eater, had portion problems, I don't get really strong cravings, and I'll eat just about anything. So, when I'm hungry and I'm trying to lose weight, I have no problem making lower calorie choices, which I have been memorizing since Jr. High. I'll actually go overboard if I don't track my calories. Basically, I would imagine that eating intuitively would be really hard as a weight loss method for someone who tends to overeat, or has problems with strong cravings.

    It might be a better plan to practice intuitive eating, while tracking calories. Maybe you could write everything you eat down in a notepad and enter it at the end of the day. This way you could *kitten* and make adjustments the next day. I think you can learn to eat intuitively, but how can you do it if you don't know what the feelings are? Also, you need to learn to kinda have an idea of macros throughout the day or week.
  • Skarlet13
    Skarlet13 Posts: 146 Member
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    Good topic. Anyone else not know when they're hungry or full? These cues seem to be broken for me. I just don't get hungry or full, but I love to eat (prob because of the lovely chemicals eating releases in your brain).

    At the moment I'm not counting calories but I am counting servings. I stopped losing so I figure I'm eating at maintenance.
  • vvvalentines
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    IE plus some "common sense" eating "rules" helped me lose my first 15 lbs without tracking calories or being really strict with myself. For me, that meant having lots of vegetables (steamed or baked) with my meals, doing most of my eating at home, and not keeping lots of "treats" or cookies/candy/crackers around the house. During that time I was still drinking 2% milk, wasn't choosing "diet" options (except when dining out, when I would generally pick "lighter" options that were under 600 or 500 calories depending on the restaurant,) and was having the occasional mixed drink or glass of wine. I also walked about a mile three times per week just as part of my daily routine going to and from school.
  • Jess732008
    Jess732008 Posts: 98 Member
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    Basically, I try to eat intuitively with logging to help me retrain myself.

    My husband's intuitions never broke: it is really hard for him to understand why I struggle and at first he tried to explain that food is just fuel, you just eat when you are hungry...Well, if I can confuse emotions with hungry, I can justify eating all the time!

    In general, I think telling the obese to just follow intuitive eating is pretty ignorant of all of the factors that go into obesity. Yes, we can relearn, but we can't just go from overeating to "intuitive" eating without many, many steps and much time involved. For someone who is just a bit overweight from consecutive five pound holiday gains without losses in between, it is probably a more logical solution.

    I agree. Some people do great with intuitive eating and they lose huge amounts of weight. I would reocmmend people at least try it to see if it works for them. I do okay with intuitive eating now that I have been just tracking maintenance calories. I have gone off plan for a few weeks and not really gained, even when I thought I should have. I do great at first, but then my portion sizes get bigger and bigger and I start gaining weight. I cannot lose using intuitive eating, though. Losing while tracking is hard enough for me. Losing is my weakness in healthy living. I am horrible at it. I really don't like feeling hungry and uncomfortable and lacking energy every day. Yes, that is a bad attitude and something I really need to work on.
  • vvvalentines
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    Good topic. Anyone else not know when they're hungry or full? These cues seem to be broken for me. I just don't get hungry or full, but I love to eat (prob because of the lovely chemicals eating releases in your brain).

    At the moment I'm not counting calories but I am counting servings. I stopped losing so I figure I'm eating at maintenance.

    I've found that being more mindful of (though not cutting out) things like added sugar and caffeine have helped me get a better sense of when I'm "really" hungry or "really" full. When I "think" I'm hungry, I'll have a light snack like a couple crackers with cheese, a piece of fruit, or a small amount of leftover meat or vegetables. If I'm still hungry twenty minutes later, then I have a bigger meal.

    When I crave a specific food, I try to think about what it might mean my body "really" wants. Some nutritionists and doctors suggest that chocolate cravings signal a possible magnesium deficiency, for example, and wanting to chew on ice or a craving for red meat means you're low on iron. Similarly, when I think I want sweets, I usually really just need energy of any kind--sugar just happens to be the easiest for the body to use, so it's what it craves when you don't have enough food.
  • lisarayturner
    lisarayturner Posts: 26 Member
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    I do think you can lose weight by eating intuitively. I consider myself a success story - it's taken me many years (about 20), but in that time I've dropped 65-70 pounds (depending on the week :)). I'm not at my ideal body weight - I'd still like to drop 25-30 pounds. (I have a goal to achieve a 100-pound weight loss eventually.)

    I love the ideas of intuitive eating, but to lose weight, one has to do move more and eat less (that annoying thing we've heard so many times). Lots of ways to do that, and it's a complex and difficult project.
  • bebreli
    bebreli Posts: 229 Member
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    I don't know if you would call it intuitive eating, but I went through a period where I was watching my calories and exercising and gaining and gaining. I have a few MFP friends who went through this also. I quit it all and went back to what I considered my "normal" eating and exercise and I did lose about 30+ lbs. I can and do maintain at that weight without counting any calories. All staying within a normal BMI. My issues are more with body recomposition.
  • likitisplit
    likitisplit Posts: 9,420 Member
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    Good topic. Anyone else not know when they're hungry or full? These cues seem to be broken for me. I just don't get hungry or full, but I love to eat (prob because of the lovely chemicals eating releases in your brain).

    At the moment I'm not counting calories but I am counting servings. I stopped losing so I figure I'm eating at maintenance.

    I've found (through MFP) that I get very, very hungry on "enough" calories when my macros are out of whack. I've also found that I need to make sure I eat dried beans, a leafy green (besides salad), a root vegetable (besides potatoes), and a squash at least once a week and fruit every other day. Keeping to that minimum level of healthy eating keeps me in balance.
  • WBB55
    WBB55 Posts: 4,131 Member
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    I can maintain eating intuitively IF, and ONLY IF, I 100% eat only a non-processed, whole foods, vegan diet and don't drink any alcohol.

    But it's too restrictive for me to be happy. I LOVE DAIRY TOO MUCH. I LOVE BEER TOO MUCH.
  • silken555
    silken555 Posts: 477 Member
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    I'm an emotional eater so IE wouldn't work for me seeing as my hunger cues get superceded by extreme emotion. I've made myself sick eating too much because I kept getting hunger signals. They were actually just my emotional stress. I still have a very difficult time gauging when I'm actually hungry when my emotions are wack. That's where calorie counting is a blessing!