One Chocolate Chip Cookie

One chocolate chip cookie.  Sitting in a bag on the counter.  How did no one eat that yet? It was homemade and everything.  This is something that a few years ago would never have happened, and I was struck by it's significance. I used to cook up a batch of chocolate chip cookies and I'd eat half the batter before the cookies even made it in the oven.  Nauseous and disgusted with myself I would then continue to eat the cookies until they were gone or I had to leave some for my family.  They were so delicious and the guilt from feeling like I shouldn't eat them only made me want to eat them more.

I stopped making cookies. I couldn't take the pressure and the guilt and the shame of how I ate them and I thought that making them was the problem.  I was clearly addicted to sugar and had no control over myself.

And then I started practicing Intuitive Eating.  There are many parts to this practice but one of them is making peace with food.  This means allowing yourself to eat what you want when you want it.  There is no trickery. It's not trying to get you to eat less.  (Although eating less of something  often happens as a natural byproduct of not restricting.)

To make peace with food, first, you must put weight on the back burner.  Not because you are going to gain weight, but because you will continue to restrict yourself if you still have weight as a focus.  "But I'll get fat or fatter", you might worry.  That is a genuine concern since our society puts an overemphasis on the thin ideal.  But stay with me here and lets walk through what could happen.

Let's say you eat the cookies and you eat as many as you want for as long as you want until you don't want anymore.  It may take a day, it may take 3 weeks.  Trust me, eventually you will no longer want to eat the entire batch in one sitting as long as you aren't trying to stop yourself in any number of subtle ways.  There is a phenomenon called "food habituation" that occurs when you eat one food over and over.  You won't actually want it as much anymore.

So by giving yourself the freedom to eat the cookies, you will stop feeling at the mercy of the cookies or __________. (insert your forbidden food here)

So what is the problem? Why wouldn't everyone give themselves full permission to eat? Oh yes, that dreaded fear of weight gain.  That is a doozy to dismantle isn't it? And when it comes down to it, the fear of weight gain is the main reason most people continue to restrict, abstain and live in fear of forbidden foods.  Or people worry that it's not good for their "health".  This often means they are concerned with their weight, but yes, some people will also restrict because they are concerned with certain health markers. This fear of forbidden foods is even why some people  think they are food addicts.  (For more on dispelling the food addiction myth - check out the awesome Love, Food podcast, episode number 70 with Julie Duffy Dillion and Marci Evans.)

So what sounds healthier to you? Bingeing on chocolate chip cookies whenever you make them and sending your body into a stress spiral and filling yourself with the negative emotions of guilt, shame and sadness? Feeling disgusted and out of control and depressed over........cookies? Or feeling joy at the experience of eating delicious chocolate chip cookies and enjoying every single one that you eat, no matter how many.  Not feeling stuffed and nauseous, feeling nourished and supported and loved.  Which experience would you rather have?

When you are afraid of food, you are in a state of constant stress and struggle. This is not good for your mind or your physical body.  Foods will always seem to be forbidden and tempting.  There will always be guilt and shame and perhaps eating more than you were really hungry for since you don't know when you will have certain foods again.  You will be unable to respond to your internal hunger and fullness cues.

The more you try to control your food, the more it controls you. 

Getting past the fear of food by giving yourself unconditional permission to eat  is the key to break the cycle of stress, guilt and shame.  What it comes down to is basic psychology.  People want what they are told they can't have. It's perfectly understandable. So give yourself full and unconditional permission to eat.  It's the only way out of the fear of food.  It's the only way to leave a chocolate chip cookie on the counter and not hear it calling your name.

I now make chocolate chip cookies again.  When I make cookies now, I eat some batter if I want it, or I don't.  There is no compulsion. I also sit down with a plate and a glass of milk and the warm cookies and enjoy the experience of eating each one.  I usually find I am full after a few and I save the rest for the family. I'm not trying to only eat a few, I am listening to my body and it tells me quite clearly when I've had my fill.  I know I can come back later or make them again tomorrow if I want more.  I have cleared myself of a major source of guilt, and despair and no longer have this Jekyll and Hyde feeling when it comes to food.

Do you have forbidden foods or foods you feel out of control around? For more help on giving yourself unconditional permission to eat, you can read the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, or check out their Intuitive Eating workbook. If you still find you need help putting the principle of unconditional permission to eat into practice, support from someone who has been there can be helpful too.  You can message me at if you want to schedule a session with me for more support.

Freedom Comes From Letting Go


I’ve been feeling very grateful for the practice of Intuitive Eating this holiday season. It is so much more than a way of eating. It is a doorway into getting back in touch with yourself.   That is the real goal. Once we are more in touch with ourselves, there is nothing we can’t accomplish and when we trust ourselves, there is nothing to fear. When we diet, we hand over the fulfillment of our needs, wants and desires to an outside source. We let a book or a diet program or a weight loss guru dictate what we should eat and how we should move our bodies and tell us how we should feel.  They also tell us when to eat and move and how much to eat and move. We think that we are gaining control by following these plans and taking steps to make sure we live a long and healthy life with our slim waists and healthy eating.

However, there are no guarantees. No matter how healthy we eat, we still might get sick and even die. Bad shit may still happen. Not to mention, there is no guarantee that a certain way of eating will give us a slim waist. That is not always true because it depends on so many other factors. Not being in control can be frightening and often we try to control what we think we can.  However, the truth is, we cannot control our food either.  The diet industry and our culture would like you to think you can control your eating but trying to tell ourselves not to eat when we are hungry or not to eat what we are hungry for is like trying to control our breathing, or the weather or how tall we are going to be.  If it were that easy then the we would all be the same size already.  It’s not like we haven’t been trying.

Studying and practicing Intuitive Eating helped me see the futility in what I was trying to control. It also opened me up to the fears that I was trying to combat by using my appearance. Walking through the doorway of Intuitive Eating has allowed me to spend this year learning more about myself.  What do I want to eat turned into what do I really want in general? What do I like? How do I want to spend my time? What is meaningful to me? Is it really dependent on my size?

My son talked me into watching a movie this morning.  It was a Friday morning and I had work to do, bills to pay, errands to run and a house to clean. I was going to exercise too and wrap some Christmas presents. I had a long to do list and little time. But he told me I had to see a movie that really impressed him recently and I know that it’s a unique and special opportunity when your teenage son is home on a Friday morning and wants to watch a movie with you, even if it is 10 am.  I hesitated for only a second and then said yes.

He wanted me to watch the Black Swan.  It’s an amazingly powerful film that has many levels of meaning. I had the vague notion that I had seen it before but I couldn’t remember what was going to happen or what message it was going to convey.  In the end, the movie was summed up by 3 sentences spoken near the end of the movie; “The only person standing in your way is you.  It’s time to let her go.  Lose yourself.”

I connected with those words instantly.  I have been standing in my own way for a very long time. Always thinking that something was wrong or needed to be fixed. The movie also gave the message that trying to be perfect can kill you.  If it doesn’t kill you literally, it can also most certainly kill you figuratively. It kills your spirit and it kills what makes you uniquely and wonderfully you.  When we diet, we are striving for a perfection that we think exists and we are all standing in our own way.  We are standing in the way of creative expression and wild abandon and spontaneous joy.  We are standing in the way of knowing ourselves and honoring ourselves and most importantly, trusting ourselves. When we live in this state, something is always going to feel wrong and we will never be at peace.

Not coincidentally, because I don’t believe in coincidences, this week I framed a quote and put it on my desk.  It said “Freedom comes in letting go.”  I didn’t know when I bought the quote that it was going to be the lesson I was supposed to learn this week. I even wondered why exactly I was buying the quote.  Yet, when we let go of the idea that we have to be a certain way to be accepted in this world, our world explodes with limitless possibilities and potential that we could never have imagined.

Let go of the one thing you think you should be and you can be anything you want.

I am humbled and grateful to have received this message today, through my son.  Letting go of the diet mentality has opened my eyes and my heart and my world to so much beauty and grace that it hurts sometimes. I so appreciate the shift in my thinking and I know that I will never go back to the small and fragile world that I came from. I invite anyone else who is reading this to consider reflecting as we enter a new year, am I holding onto something that is holding me back? In what way can I let go and be free?


embrace-facebook-friendly-ad-1200x628On September 28 and October 19, at 7:30 pm, I will be hosting screenings of the documentary EMBRACE. This film is encouraging women around the world to love their bodies.  I am very proud to be a partof this experience and to be spreading the word about how challenging having a good body image can be and what we can do about it. Maybe you already saw the movie and that is why you are here reading this? I could probably write about a dozen blog posts on all the things going through my head getting ready for the Embrace movie screening.  I’ll try to keep this to one topic.

Why did I want to share this movie with my community?

I wanted to share this movie because the trailer resonated with me deeply.  I can relate to being sucked in to what society said I should look like from a very young age.  I didn’t know any differently and I didn’t think anything of it.  Of course I would want to change myself if I don’t look like the women on the pages of Seventeen magazine, or later Cosmopolitan.  Isn’t that what we are all striving for?

Bring on the meal plans, bring on the diets, bring on low fat, no fat and Brummel and Brown yogurt butter.  Bring on carrot sticks and diet coke.  Bring on the daily vow to get up and run or work out in some fashion, hello Jane Fonda!  Let me start snubbing my nose at those that eat cake in public, knowing full well that I will go home and eat all the cake when no one is looking.

I remember my mom taking a picture of me in a leotard as motivation for working out.  I remember standing there sheepishly in the front hall while the picture was being taken. I was about 12 or 13.   It wasn’t her fault, a nutritionist suggested it.  I remember being both excited about the prospect of my imminent change and slightly humiliated at the same time that I wasn’t good enough just as I was.

And that is the insidiousness of our world’s “healthy” messages.  As we try to change ourselves, we are constantly telling ourselves we are no good without even realizing it.  Then we are reinforcing that message to ourselves over and over with every diet that ends and every new one that begins.  I am not perfect and therefore I must change.

A couple years ago, my odd diet behavior was escalating and it was getting harder and harder to keep the weight off, so I kept trying harder and harder.   I was eventually only reading non-fiction books at night like This is Why You are Fat, Grain Brain, Wheat Belly, the Anti-Inflammation diet, the Zone diet, Paleo, The Flat Belly Diet, The Sonoma Diet, The Fast Metabolism Diet, The 8 hour diet….you get the idea.  I will admit that some of these diets have valid and legitimate advice.  But…..

The problem is, if you are reading any of these with the only goal being weight loss, they will not help you get where you want to go.  They will only perpetuate the cycle you are in and possibly make it worse. The problem is, you are not starting in the right place when you are hating your body and think your life will be perfect if you could only lose 5,10,25, 50 pounds.

With this mindset, your body will be in a constant state of stress and you will most likely be overriding everything she is trying to tell you with something that a book said you should do. Eventually you will rebel and as Newton’s law of motion says -  if one object exerts a force on another object, then the second object exerts an equal and opposite reaction force on the first.  Chances are, your diet is not going to end well.

As luck would have it, during my quest for non-fiction literature that would “fix me” or “solve my problem”, I stumbled across Intuitive Eating for the first time. I have to admit, the premise sounded pretty amazing.  Eat what I want and be happy in my body? Get out – not possible.  I also immediately thought “hell no – I’m not giving up yet!”.  Wow – I can’t even believe I was in it so deep that I couldn’t even see it.  Giving up what? Misery? Self flagellation? The desire to never leave the house again?

The idea of Intuitive Eating percolated for awhile and my non-fiction reading started taking a turn.  I moved onto Health at Every Size and realized there was a whole genre of non-dieting books out in the world. A non-dieting book? What??!! I was intrigued and dug in.  Slowly I got past my reservations with intuitive eating and decided to give it a try.  Holy moly. Powerful stuff.

I eventually realized that food was not a problem at all and the simple fact that I kept trying to control it is what was sending me back to food over and over again. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.

Long story short, (?) that is why I wanted to bring this movie to my community.  Because there is another way, there are a million ways, there are infinite ways that you can choose to live your life and write your story that are so much more rewarding and satisfying than the narrow minded world of weight loss would have you believe.

I wanted to share this movie as a part of my healing.  I am still scrambling out of the hole I have been hiding in for years and years and sometimes I start to slip back.  This movie is like a lifeline reminding me that I didn’t make this all up and it’s a real and big problem with our world. This movie reminded me that I am not alone in my struggle and that I am 100% on the right path with my journey through intuitive eating and health at every size.  When I present this movie, I will be standing up for myself in a way that I never have before.  It feels powerful and emotional and it’s all I can do not to get all teary eyed every time I think about it.  I am so appreciative and so grateful that I found my way out and I have never been more excited for the rest of my life.

I wanted to share this movie and my experience on the off chance that there is anyone else out there who knows how I feel or is going through the same thing or who may need some extra support to get out of the hole she has put herself in. If you identify with dieting mentality or any mentality that says you are not worthy the way you are right now, today, then it’s that mentality that has to change.

My hope is that at a minimum, women walk away from this movie feeling better about themselves and that they recognize their worth as human beings.  It would also be awesome if they would walk away improving how they talk to themselves. And when they improve how they talk to themselves, they will improve how they treat other people too and whammo – the world just became a better place.

So yeah - I guess I brought my community this movie because ultimately I think it will make the world a better place and I am proud and honored to be a part of the movement.