How do you stop feeling so frustrated with food? Here’s what the journey looks like.

Can I share something super special with you? This post marks the official, 1-year anniversary of my blog!

To mark the occasion, I’ve written you a really long, juicy essay this week on something I’ve never written about before.

But before we dive in, I want to invite you to grab one of the three spots left in The Dessert Club!

After some thinking this week, I’ve decided to limit the number of spots to nine – rather than the 12 I originally planned – to make sure that the group can have the same intimate feel of grabbing drinks with a group of friends. Only three spots are left {UPDATE: All spots have been taken!} , and we start this Wednesday, July 1.

If you’re feeling ready to finally explore your eating in a supportive and warm environment with ladies who love to eat chocolate (or cheese, if you are more of a “salty” gal), I’d love to meet you (click here for more information!).

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Now let's dive into something that’s really, really important, so important that I can’t believe I’ve never written about this before.

And frankly, I didn’t even realize it.

My boyfriend pointed it out.

He knows my philosophy about  eating really well, and he said to me, “Katie, I think you’re confusing your readers with all this talk about how you can eat unlimited cake and lose weight. They can’t eat a whole cake every day and lose weight. You need to tell them about the big picture and the overall journey of someone who follows Intuitive + Luscious Eating.”

And I thought, Hot damn, he’s right!

So that’s the topic today: what does the intuitive + luscious eating journey look like? How do you get from frustrated with your eating and wondering if you should join Weight Watchers next week…to feeling joyful and safe around food?

It’s a pretty epic journey, and it takes place in 5 parts.

Hold on to your chic summer hats, ladies:


Stage 1. Life as usual, living with the frustration.

In Stage 1, you just notice that you constantly feel a bit annoyed or frustrated with your eating. You think to yourself:

I just need more willpower around food!

Maybe I should start Weight Watchers/Paleo/giving up all sugar tomorrow.

I know what I should be doing! Why aren’t I doing it?

You might feel like you spend so much time obsessing that it’s making you miserable, or like your brain weirdly turns off when you eat and you go overboard. You know that something’s wrong, but you don’t exactly know what to do about it.


Stage 2. Awareness of the deeper problem  

In Stage 2, you begin to realize that the problem isn’t food, and that it isn’t just that you don’t have enough willpower.

Even if it’s only in an intellectual way, you begin to acknowledge that your problems with food go much deeper and have to do with the fact that you’re not listening to your body’s signals. You’re eating when you’re not hungry, or choosing foods that don’t make you feel the way you want to feel. You're also using food to solve things that food can’t solve. 

Even by reading these letters from me every week, you’ve probably brought yourself from Stage 1 to Stage 2. You know that a diet won’t fix all of your problems, and that if you’ve been having trouble sticking to a defined food plan, or if your eating feels out of control, it’s probably because something much deeper is going on.

You might even be beginning to have ideas about what is going on. But looking at them too closely, or making changes based on what you find, feels totally overwhelming.


Stage 3. Willingness to go deep + make changes

 

Stage 3 is when the really exciting stuff happens. You’re willing to go finally examine your eating and your life from the inside out, and begin to make some big changes.

Alert: This is the rockiest stage!

Frankly, you may feel like your life got flipped upside down. It may feel like there is a constant battle between your Social Self, who has a story about how you are supposed to live (Peanut butter cups for breakfast are not okay, Katie! And you have to eat at normal mealtimes! Why aren’t you eating at normal mealtimes?), and your deeper, more authentic, True Self, who seems to suddenly want peanut butter cups for breakfast, and isn’t hungry at lunchtime, ever.

So yes, your eating can look a bit crazy here. The thing that will save you from suddenly gaining 250 pounds and no longer being able to fit through doorways will be that you are also listening to yourself and your body. You will have unexpected moments of joyful clarity. These are my favorite moments with my clients, like the one who said to me last month:

Yeah, it was so weird. I was so nervous to have those dozen cupcakes in my house, but when I sat down to actually eat one and paid attention to it, I had two bites and threw it away. I realized it was too sweet and I didn’t actually want it.  

Those are the moments when we both laugh, and I’ll say to them, Yeah, isn’t that crazy? How many times have you totally overdone it with cupcakes, and you don’t actually like them!

But the scariest thing about Stage 3 is that it isn’t just about the food. You are going to realize that there are parts of your life – big and small – that just aren’t working. You might have to make changes in how you work, how you relate to your partner or friends, or how you spend your time. These won’t be changes that you don’t want – on the contrary, you’ll find that you want them more than anything – but they’ll also be friggin’ scary.

When I was in Stage 3, I felt like I was going crazy. I was able to make a lot of changes in how I approached food, but I still felt stuck and scared about changing bigger things in my life. Frankly, I didn’t quite get out of Stage 3 until I started working with a coach myself, several months later, who helped me put together all the pieces that connected my eating with my life.

It’s for this reason that I highly recommend working with someone. Even dipping your toe into Stage 3 can be super scary, but things need to get a little scarier before they can get saner.


Stage 4: Equilibrium

The amazing thing about Stage 4 is that you finally feel less crazy, and seem less crazy to the outside world.

From an eating perspective, this concretely means that you don’t need to eat peanut butter cups for three meals a day. You don't feel like it anymore. It just doesn't appeal.

So when I say, “You can eat as much cake as you want and still maintain a healthy weight!” I say that because by the time you reach Stage 4, you don't want to eat a huge slice of chocolate cake every day. You find yourself gravitating towards traditionally “healthy” foods, not because you “should,” but because those foods make you feel good. And when you do eat junk food, it’s in much smaller portions because you know you can have it anytime and you don’t feel deprived.

From a life perspective, Stage 4 is great because you’re also much better at being aware of your needs and deepest desires, and acting on them. You’ve done a lot of the scary and challenging work required to move your life in the direction that you want to go in.

While it might have been scary in Stage 3 to say “no” to a boss or to a friend who wanted something from you, in Stage 4 you have a much more solid sense of self and feel more confident being yourself in the world.

One last thing about Stage 4, though: it requires a continued willingness to be aware of your eating and your life. You can’t start eating when you’re not hungry again or ignoring your deepest needs and putting everyone else first.

But by the time you reach Stage 4, you realize that making self-awareness a part of your daily life is worth it, many times over. This is also where working with a coach or mentor can be useful – they can give you ideas for how to turn your big changes into do-able daily practices.


Stage 5: Continual learning

Look, I hate to break it to you, but this food stuff (and also this life stuff) is an ongoing journey.

You are still going to have moments when you realize that your eating or your actions are not making you happy.

But the joyful thing about being in Stage 5 is that you usually need to make small adjustments, rather than a 180 degree shift, to get your life back into alignment. And by then, you've had practice going deep and making changes, so it’s not so scary anymore.

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So that's a snapshot of the journey from feeling frustrated about your eating, to feeling grounded, safe, and joyful.

But can I say one more thing to you? From my heart to yours?

I write these letters because I feel so passionately that too many women struggle with their eating and their weight and feeling like they are always “limiting” the amount of dessert they can have, but they don’t have to.

If you can listen to your body and your deepest self, and trust what you hear, it doesn’t have to be that hard.

It really, really doesn’t.

Want to talk? If you’re tired of being frustrated with your eating and your weight, and are willing to see if just maybe, you don’t have to go back to Weight Watchers or give up all your favorite foods to be healthy, I’d love to talk with you or have you join me and a small group of fabulous ladies in the Dessert Club (click here for more info!).

Thank you all so much for reading my posts. Even if we haven’t met yet, I hope you know that I’m rooting for you.