If Diets Don’t Work What the Heck Are We Supposed to Do?

Hello! I had an appointment in Newport Beach this morning and knew I’d have an hour to kill while waiting. Since today was a rest day I wore my walking shoes and figured I’d get a little exercise exploring.

balboa island sign (376x502)

Well, I scored the exploration jackpot when I checked Gmaps and realized I was down the street from Balboa Island. It’s been years since I’ve been there so I was psyched! I spent some time walking and dreaming of living there. It was so quiet and beautiful this morning.

balboa island (409x545)balboa island boats from bridge (669x502)walking balboa island (669x502)

Post walk treat.

mini jamba juice (376x502)

I saw a TED Talk about “The Science Behind Why Diets Don’t Work and What To Do Instead” floating around the internet last week. Loved it. But this isn’t new – it’s Intuitive Eating!

I haven’t been talking about IE like I used to, but I’m still a big fan. Truthfully, it’s still something I struggle with everyday but it got kind of monotonous to write about.

Eating intuitively is a very hard thing to live when you have a history of binge or disordered eating patterns. When you are addicted to drugs or alcohol you stop completely. When some people have food issues it is an everyday battle to stay accountable. You can’t just quit food!

Talking about my journey to stop nighttime eating seemed like a broken record, but it’s not as easy as ‘just stop’. You wouldn’t tell someone with another addiction ‘just stop’. But, I stopped talking about it for a while and just did my thang.

food talk


The video reminded me that I’ve been meaning to share more Intuitive Eating Resources.

First, there is the Intuitive Eating Book. It has a great explanation of a non-diet approach to maintaining your weight and steps for getting there.

Geneen Roth also teaches about intuitive eating, but doesn’t call it that necessary. She is all about listening to and respecting your body. Her books are very personal and some of them tell her story as an illustration.

Feeding the Hungry Heart

When Food Is Love

Breaking Free From Emotional Eating

The Craggy Hole In My Heart and the Cat Who Fixed It

One of my favorites is “When You Eat At The Refrigerator Pull Up A Chair”. It’s short chapters with a story or lesson in each, super easy read.

Question: Do you have any Intuitive Eating resources or tips to share?


  1. says

    I don’t have tips to share, but I’ve been struggling with my weight lately. I’ve been trying and failing to get back down to my race weight after gaining while semi-sidelined with a few injuries. I’m excited to look through these resources and see if I can find something to help me shake the nagging feeling to “diet” in order to get back to race weight by my 77.7 mile relay in April. Thank you!!

  2. Marie says

    You don’t sound like a broken record! I’ve been a reader for almost a year (I’m always late to parties) and I’m curious about your input as I actually admire your body shape a lot. I’ll have to check your archives!

  3. says

    I’m always glad when someone shares their struggles (not a broken record! Like you said, it’s something we struggle with everyday). I’m still practicing intuitive eating. Again like I said before, I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  4. says

    If you are a broken record then I win Gold for that category…and if you ask my hubby he would agree….I talk about my roller coaster weight all.the.time.

    It must be a girl thang! 😉

  5. says

    I agree with Maria – I’ve read a bit about your intuitive eating before, but it would be awesome to have a basic recap! I love working out and eating healthy, and yet I still struggle with food- not eating enough, eating too much, “punishing” myself for eating “badly” and getting engrossed in various fad diets every now and then.

    Another IE post would be much appreciated!

  6. Shannon in Tustin says

    I have no tips to share, I struggle most with the tape in my head and (sort of) forcing or guilting myself to run if I feel like I’ve over-indulged (and usually that’s only by my crazy standards). Running helps me maintain and I’ve accepted my shape–different that weight (which did wonders for me overall) and stopped trying to change how I am made.

    I will stop and say you double-triple scored on the Balboa Island visit this morning. I love it any time of year. Sometimes the kids and I bundle up, park far from the ferry (on the peninsula side) and walk quite a distance. I think it ends up to be 5 miles in total. I treat them to a frozen banana and sometimes my son rides his scooter instead. :)
    Makes for a relaxing, un-plugged, active kind of day.

    Thanks for sharing, Monican!

  7. says

    It’s funny, because I don’t consider myself to be an “intuitive eater,” but I have generally started to just eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I used to struggle with eating disorders myself, but I never worry about what I put in my mouth anymore. Running has helped with that a lot. I stay pretty busy between running, working, and spending time with my family, that I don’t analyze every little thing I put in my mouth. If I want something sweet, I eat it. I definitely don’t avoid any specific foods (except cranberries because I’m allergic to them!), but I DO make sure that I eat a healthy, well-rounded “diet” (for lack of a better word), and consume the amount of carbs, proteins, and veggies that I need every day.

  8. Sarah says

    I recently read a tip on how to keep a food journal with an IE spin. Instead of writing down your calories, you journal about your hunger levels before, during and after you eat. You can also add notes about your emotional state, any cravings, if you are tired… that sort of thing.

    I think it must be a great option to get into a habit of tuning into what your body is telling you, although I haven’t tried it myself yet.

  9. Eugenia Byrne says

    Monica, I love your posts….ALL of them! In fact, your blog is my favorite one. You are not a broken record :)

  10. says

    I’ve also struggled with weight for a long time. This time I’m trying to lose weight the healthy way – slow, steady, and forgiving. I’ve been pretty regimented the past two weeks, staying right below my calorie count. But yesterday when I went out to dinner, I decided to have 2 glasses of wine, a bacon cheeseburger, and fries. I was craving a meal like that, and it was so worth it :) And I didn’t feel guilty! I feel like that’s a win in my book. No one is perfect all the time.

  11. says

    I’m right there with you! I actually struggle a lot with diets and restricted eating habits. I’ll do things for a quick fix if I have an event, otherwise, I have to stick to intuitive eating. I read (and then foolishly gave away) the book Women, Food, and God and thought that was an amazing read about weight and eating.

  12. says

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or did you
    hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to create my own
    blog and would like to find out where u got this from.

  13. Meaghan says

    Love when you post about intuitive eating. I am finally on the IE path after years of crazy dieting regimes and I like hearing about other peoples’ success/struggles with it. Keep up the good work…you seem like you’re in a good place now.

  14. says

    IE is not easy to figure out. I lost 80 pounds 3 years ago & since then, have struggled to figure out how to listen to my body & eat well. For me, it helps to eat on a schedule. I find it helps me avoid hunger surge which is when I head for the sugar. I also find it helpful to eat real, whole foods. Not enough of them leaves me craving the bad stuff.

  15. Michelle B says

    I really need to get on board with the intuitive/mindful eating. But, ironically, it is not intuitive to me at all. I don’t even know where to begin! Any posts on this subject are always welcome, as it is very apparently something many people need to be reminded of (or pounded over their heads, like me!).
    Thanks for your openness :)

  16. Melissa S. says

    Yes, you need to do a recap!!! I just had my first appointment yesterday with a therapist. I need to figure out my disordered eating :) Running helps cuz I feel all healthy and sh*t, so I binge less. But it is still a huge weight on my shoulders.

    I was reading your blog from the start and you are actually part of the reason I finally found the courage to get help!! 😉 We all love your honesty. Thank you!!

  17. melisa says

    I’m an not familiar with IE. I stick mostly with a Whole Foods eating plan. Which is essentially staying away from packed/processed foods. I never felt better. I’ll splurge for bday cake and ice cream on occasion but generally, I eat alot of veggies, fruits, nuts and quality proteins. It works for me.

  18. Katie D. says

    I really struggle with feeling deprivied and resisting free food (work, parties, snacks at a friend’s house).

    I’m pregnant now, so I’m trying to be more mindful “for the baby” but hope that it sticks around post pregnancy too!

  19. says

    I battled bulimia (without binging) for many years (more than 10). And I find intuitive eating SO challenging. I feel like my brain doesn’t understand when my body is hungry, so if the clock doesn’t tell me it’s lunch time, I’ll skip it. I’m hoping to someday be able to stick to IE…it seems like a much healthier approach to food.

  20. says

    Everything you’re talking about is part of my journey, too, and last year was a big year for me toward change, healing, and health. In the video Sandra says it took her a year for intuitive eating to become a natural part of her life. I wax and wane on actively exercising it and sort of letting go and seeing how I’m doing. Perhaps the biggest lesson for me is not giving myself a hard time if I slip up – taking the long view and realizing that change doesn’t happen overnight. But if I’m making progress… I have a lot to be proud of. You do too! One book I found helpful is Healing Your Hungry Heart by Joanna Poppink. She is a big believer in journaling and meditation.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, because it reminds all of us that we’re not alone. And that simple fact is a source of tremendous strength and inspiration.

  21. april says

    don’t be afraid of sounding like a broken record! as someone who has struggled with disordered eating, i’ve found that IE is really difficult. you’re so right, though – you can’t just quit food, so it is quite a journey…but we’ll get there :)

  22. says

    A more recent reader here as well, but you don’t sound like a broken record. It’s nice to hear from people who are different than yourself, you know? I agree that dieting isn’t helpful because at some point, you’re not “on” the diet anymore. Freaking out about certain kinds of food and whatnot just isn’t helpful – I’d love to hear more about intuitive eating. :)

    My biggest struggle is stopping when I’m full. We eat pretty healthfully, I just eat way too much of everything.

  23. Moira says

    That’s so funny. I usually watch Tedtalks when Im on the elliptical and I just watched that one yesterday. It was a nice reminder that I didn’t HAVE to have seconds of dinner last night-I wasn’t actually hungry! It’s hard to listen to your body!

  24. says

    First, I love Balboa Island – chocolate covered bananas there are so good! Second, thanks for sharing the Ted Talk and intuitive eating. I’ve been curious about it for awhile and this is the perfect place to start researching!

  25. Amy says

    I know this is an old post, but I knew you practiced intuitive eating and so was specifically looking for some support. I have been NOT binging for about 7 years and not weighing myself for several months, maybe nine, but I know I am gaining weight or at least shifting it around in different places and it is hard to not jump back on that diet roller coaster. There is a part of me that just wants to go on a juice fast and lose that booty that is growing, but I am continuing to eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full and gradually increase my running and activity without going overboard.

    Some of the things that have been helpful was re-reading Intuitive Eating, because a new edition was published since the last time I read it. I also read Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family by Ellyn Satter, which is similar but not exactly intuitive eating. And I bought emBody by Bonnie Sobczak but haven’t read it yet.

    I’ve discussed all my eating issues with my therapist, and she had me make a body image egg, which was very helpful (email me if you have any desire to know what that is) and she also recommended I see a nutrition therapist, who I have seen twice.

    But it is a daily struggle.

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