Posts tagged Toronto Binge Eating
I’m Doing This Intuitive Eating Thing — So Why Do I Keep Overeating?

“I’ve been doing this intuitive eating thing, but…I keep overeating. You said I would feel sane around food if I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted, so what gives?”

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As an intuitive eating counsellor and nutritionist — someone who helps women all over the world to stop bingeing, make peace with food, and feel at ease in whatever body they happen to find themselves in — one of the chief concerns I encounter involves “overeating.”

Because “overeating” isn’t as clear a term as you’d think, let’s start there.

Eating more than you did when you were dieting is not “overeating.”

Eating more than what your fitness tracker recommends is not “overeating.”

Eating what you feel is a large volume of food is not “overeating.”

Eating beyond the “portion” on the label is not “overeating.”

Eating more than what’s on your meal plan is not necessarily “overeating.”


Quite “simply” (ha — is anything ever simple when it comes to food and body?!) — “overeating” means eating beyond fullness. It can occur at any time (during a scheduled meal, over the holidays, or while snacking), and for any reason (by accident, because you’re recovering from an eating disorder and you need to overeat, because you’re trying to mitigate anxiety or uncomfortable feelings, and so on.)


Intuitive eaters seldom overeat. Not because we’re a superior brand of species, but because we know we can eat what we want, when we want, and in the amount that we want. Truly. Madly. Deeply.

But if you’re perpetually overeating, does it mean you’re “failing” at intuitive eating?

It’s one thing to logically give yourself unconditional permission to eat.

It’s another to live it

Here’s a few reasons why you’re still overeating:

  1. You’re judging what you eat, the amount you eat, or when you eat.

Darling, judging is another word for restriction — and is the furthest thing from unconditional permission. In my experience, this judgment usually stems from a fear of what your “intuitive eating experiments” will do to your body. When you’re panicked about how much weight you’ll gain or how your shape will change from not dieting, you’ll resort to your primary and most comforting coping mechanism: food.

This is why I feel intuitive eating (or recovery from diet culture or an eating disorder) works most effectively when combined with body image work, self-compassion, self-care, and psychotherapy. 

I’m blue in the face from saying it, but truly: restriction always leads to “eating issues.”

I cover this extensively in my coaching practice, but this gives you a head start.


2. You’re worried about your weight. 

This concern feels very real and I have a ton of empathy for it. But honestly? This worry is never about the weight exclusively. Thinness doesn’t live in a vacuum. 

Why do you care about becoming or staying thin?

…Maybe you believe it will help your chances of meeting the love of your life.

…Or help you to feel more confident sporting that string bikini on the beach.

…Help you to make friends and feel a sense of belonging.

…Allow you to finally accept your body so you stop killing yourself at the gym. 

…Get your [parental figure] off your back and finally experience their acceptance. 

Yes, being thin comes with specific privileges (“thin privilege” is real), but we also carry a number of convictions about thinness (and fatness) and its symbolism that inform our eating choices and how we view our relationship with food.

3. It’s your only coping mechanism.

“Emotional eating” isn’t pathological; I’m a big believer in legalizing emotional eating. 
But as you dive deeper into intuitive eating, you’ll find 1) food no longer offers the comfort it once did 2) you may wish to process your feelings a little differently.


Some things I recommend implementing that were personally helpful: 

  1. Being extremely diligent about your self-care. This may mean having standard sleep and wake times, taking an evening bath, trying a skincare routine, participating in joyful movement (if this is available to you at this time), spending time with friends or family, taking regular breaks, eating regularly and adequately, keeping hydrated, diffusing essential oils, limiting caffeine and/or alcohol, and so on. It needs to be personally meaningful and something you can do without much effort. Also: it doesn’t have to cost anything.

  2. Finding a therapist — ideally a weight-neutral, eating disorder-informed one.

  3. Actively try other coping mechanisms, like journalling, calling a friend, going for a walk, meditating, listening to music, etc. It takes time to foster new habits, so be patient with this.

  4. Meet yourself with self-compassion. I highly recommend Dr. Kirstin Neff’s Self-Compassion.


Is this something you struggle (or struggled) with while starting intuitive eating? Let me know in the comments!

Are you "addicted" to food or just deprived?

“I’m addicted to chocolate.”

“Cheese is my weakness.”

“I can’t stop eating almond butter.”

“Candy is irresistible.” 

“Can’t eat just one.”

When we talk about the foods we love, do you ever notice how Puritanical we get? These are all phrases that suggest we can’t control ourselves around the foods we love (and we need to be controlled.

While we can “feel” addicted to foods, clinical food addiction just isn’t a thing at this time. Even MSG-laden Chinese take-out, loaded ketchup chips, or Haribo tangfastics (my personal favourite…please send). Of course we love these foods, but it is very natural to eat and enjoy delicious foods — not pathological. 

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In contrast, diet culture and its symptoms, like weight suppression, food restriction, over-exercise, and so on, are pathological and have well-studied psychological and physiological consequences. 

Adhering to diet culture feels good because being thin or performing thinness upholds the status quo. Because thinness is idealized, being thin or doing “thin things” — like hitting the gym, drinking green smoothies, or "working on our gut health” — helps us to feel superior. Except dieting requires restriction by its very definition — either physiological or psychological — and scarcity leads us to feel “addicted” to food.

Allowing ourselves to fully enjoy and savour food feels foreign and wrong because we’re rebelling against the very system trying to keep us in our place

But by denying diet culture and working toward food freedom, you offer yourself the opportunity to move away from food and body preoccupation.

To reject diet culture’s trappings and dissolve feelings of “addiction”, I’ve isolated 2 types of food deprivation (restriction) that must be worked through:

#1. ABSENCE OF “OVERT” PERMISSION.

Overt permission is superficial and involves three main points: a) eating what you want, b) when you want, c) in the quantity you want. 

You may feel that if you “allow” yourself to eat cookies whenever you want that you will never choose another snack, or if you let yourself just have the lasagna or macaroni and cheese you’ll never choose anything other than pasta. But habituation theory suggests otherwise: eventually, you’ll tire of these foods (yes, even of your favourite foods!) and opt for something else. Humans are hard-wired for variety, so even if it seems this way, it’s because you’ve been living within a restrictive framework — not because these foods are inherently addictive. Remember that bingeing, overeating, and other “problematic” behaviours are reactions to restriction, not to permission. 

In short: connect with your internal wisdom and let yourself eat what it is you desire, eat to satisfaction (don’t go hungry or intentionally under-eat), and allow yourself to eat when you want (whether you’re hungry again two hours after breakfast, want a snack at 9pm, or just feel like having popcorn with the movie you’re watching.) 

#2. ABSENCE OF “AUTHENTIC” PERMISSION. 

Authentic (and unconditional) permission goes deeper. In my experience, it also takes more practice and time to grasp and implement. 

Let’s say you’re eating what you want, when you want, and in the amount you desire. Yet you’re still bingeing or generally feel out of control around and obsessed with food. 

Let’s talk about how you’re eating and what you’re thinking. 

Many people who believe they are practicing unconditional permission are actually self-sabotaging. Eating in secret — hiding food, only eating certain foods when you’re alone, hiding wrappers or containers — is a subtle form of restriction. 

And even though intellectually you may know you are allowed to eat what you want, it takes time for our emotions to catch up. This may explain why you still feel guilt and/or shame when eating certain foods, for you believe you should not be eating them. With time and practice (and help from me, if you like!) you can begin to integrate the lessons and eat without shame or guilt.

Let me know in the comments: do you engage in overt or subtle forms of restriction? 







What Are We Doing to Prevent Eating Disorders?

There’s a fine line between “health” and too far

Over the last year I’ve become interested in, among many other things, how we use and abuse “health.” How health oppresses. Health — and “health foods”, such as green smoothies and chia seed puddings — as status or currency. Health as the new wealth, so clearly articulated in the term “wellthy.” 

intuitive eating, health at every size, eating disorder recovery. What are we doing to prevent eating disorders?

I used to believe — and a large part of me still does — that access to nutritious food could change the world. I wanted to deepen my “nutrition practice,” consume all the vegetables, and generally work on myself in ways that seemed meaningful but actually felt superfluous. An improved version of myself was a self who readily eschewed ketchup chips for carrot sticks, who ditched “carbs” for an extra serving of vegetables, who worked out instead of sleeping in. 

But when the comments on my body came, when I was congratulated for my discipline and my “super healthy” diet, I realized I had not really improved. I was still on the same hamster wheel I’d been on since I was fourteen. Was I searching for health or worth? Was I searching for improvement or value? When I consider how far we’ve come from promoting what I’d consider a “balanced diet”, things appear to take the shape of religion more than they do scientific fact. 

While we’ve crossed oceans in defence of “health”, I’d argue the same can’t be said for eating disorders. As a professional working exclusively with disordered eating and eating disorders, I’ll admit I don’t know everything — who does? — but most of the efforts I’ve seen in this area focus on preventing “obesity” rather than eating disorders (even though these are sometimes one in the same, a fact rarely considered or acknowledged.) 

We live in a time when Orthorexic food recommendations have become the norm. Dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free…that’s what health is, right? But it’s not. We’ve weaponized these groups. We’ve become so hyper-focused on what is wrong that we’ve created a war at the table (and furthered the distance between the haves and the have-nots.) Restriction and weight loss have become so woven into our culture that we can’t even see when our behaviours and attitudes are problematic. 

We also rarely consider the ways health has nothing to do with diet or exercise. What about historical trauma? What about marginalization? What about food insecurity and its long-term effects? What about lack of education, cooking skills, or basic electricity? Why do we say healthy eating is so easy when the world has shown up, time and time again, to tell us otherwise? Why do we assume health is a matter of choice and not a matter of circumstance? 

We’ve exchanged the thin ideal for a ripped, lean one, complete with the degrading #bodygoals tag. An ideal few can achieve without heroic (or genetic) effort. Without restriction. A goal that suggests the body is a project, not a vessel, one more important than being kind or hard-working or charitable. 

If an individual diagnosed with, let’s say, Anorexia Nervosa, decided to participate in Beachbody, we’d see this as a problem (I should hope.) So then why is it okay for someone who is not diagnosed with an eating disorder to do the same? 

Why do we promote such disordered attitudes and behaviours toward food? Is this health? 

I walked into a Greek restaurant the other day. It’s a chain, so calorie counts were littered all over the menu. I was so triggered by the numbers I couldn’t order and walked out. We would never think to hand someone recovering from lung cancer a cigarette, but apparently it’s quite alright to list numbers all over the goddamned city — including sandwich boards — for those in recovery to see. 

For anyone who barks how we shouldn’t make exceptions for those with eating disorders because “obesity is a bigger issue”, I want you think about all the efforts we’ve made in the name of physical health — and all the ways mental health is never considered

To have a mental illness in this country is to have a second class illness

But hey, being thin is so much more important, right?