For as long as I can remember, I have heard women talking about losing weight. You would think with so much time and energy spent on the subject, someone would have figured it out by now. The diet industry is a billion dollar industry that makes more money if you fail. Atkins, Pritikin, low-fat, low-carb, blood type diet, grapefruit diets, coconut diets, liquid diets, fasts, drinks, powders, pills. “Why is this not working?” we ask ourselves. “What’s wrong with me?”

Well, what if I told you that nothing is wrong with you? That you have been set up, confused by inconsistent messages ("fat is bad", "carbs are bad", ) and manipulated into believing that something is wrong with YOU. What has happened is that your intrinsic relationship to food has been damaged; all these prescriptions for the perfect diet plan have left you unable to listen to your body. “Listen to my body?” you say. “Isn’t my body the problem? Craving sugar, carbs, salty stuff, ice-cream, pizza, burgers and fries” "No," I say. That is all reaction. Reaction to dieting, deprivation, limits from society, judgment and guilt. I am not saying that it’s not natural to want these foods, but I am saying that naturally you have a limit, and you have lost touch with this part of yourself as a consequence of dieting.

Take a child. Remove all candy from her life. Tell her it isn’t good for her, or worse yet, that it is making her fat. Let her know that she should feel bad about herself if she eats this, or even if she just wants to eat it. Now put her on a diet deprived of all candy. Continue on for a number of days, weeks, months, years. Continue to shame her for missing it, and validate her for losing weight. Tell her how proud of her you are .

Go on vacation. Leave her at home with lots of good food provided. It gets quiet. All she can think about is candy. Supervisor gone, home alone… where’s the candy? Do you think if she finds it she will eat only a piece or two? Why not? What has happened to her normal reaction to sweet foods? Once she is eating this forbidden food, she can’t stop. She is no longer in her body, she can’t be. In there is guilt, shame, judgment, fear. She can only enjoy the candy disconnected. Here begins the cycle that damages thousands upon thousands of women who innocently deny themselves of foods they like. Soon food looks different. Everything becomes a battle. “Should I, shouldn’t I” rules most food conversations in our heads. This constant battle evolves slowly, but before we know it, food has overtaken our thoughts, our lives.

It sounds hopeless, but it’s not. There is a way out. A way back to normal, joyful, easy, satisfying eating. It is all about mindfulness and removing the walls of guilt and shame that prevent us from being present when we eat. Allowing us once again to admit what we like, and what we don’t like. Fighting judgments, and looking for connection with what has become the enemy: our body.
Any book or TV show can tell you what to eat, how to eat in a way that will lead to weight loss. But as I tell my clients, if it won’t work forever, if it is not a way of eating that you can live with, it’s worthless. Because temporarily losing weight is not really losing weight. Usually it is actually gaining weight. That’s where you end up, right?

Your natural self wants what is good for you. It thrives on vitality and feeling good. When the foods we eat make us feel bad physically, we are not listening. When “bad” food makes us feel good, we need to listen more.
It’s not so much about what you eat as it’s about how well you are taking care of yourself as you eat. Are you present, being mindful? Are you listening to your hunger and fullness? Do you know how each food makes you feel after eating it? What makes you feel satisfied? To re-learn eating habits involves questions you have been directed against asking. It’s time for us to take our bodies back, to make sense of a confused relationship that we have to live with for the rest of our lives. Food is something we have to deal with. Let’s learn how to eat in a way that is both nourishing and enjoyable. “Impossible!” you say, “No way.”
Not only is it possible, it is probable with just a few simple ideas. Not easy, but simple.

• Pay attention.
​Think about how you are feeling before you eat. 
Are you hungry?
Notice when you are full.
• Eat meals.
Try to have some hot food.
Have some protein with each meal.
• Eat only foods you like
You have a much better chance of stopping if you learn to eat what you want.
Satiety is related to having what you want to eat.
• Be patient
It takes time to learn again how to eat.
You will not be perfect, go easy on yourself.
• Do not have good food/bad food.. good day/bad day thinking
Allow yourself to have a bad moment, don’t make rash decisions about the whole day based on one bad food choice, move ahead… one or two cookies is not the same as the whole box. One heavy meal is not the same as a binge day.

​Toni Kohn, M.S., R.D.

One of the biggest traps in losing weight is the idea that certain foods are "bad", and create guilt and shame when you're eating those foods. Often one says "those foods are my downfall", when referring to breads, sweets, salty, or any favorite foods. I believe it is not only necessary to have no foods off limits; I actually think this mentality promotes weight gain rather than weight loss.

Research consistently shows that if someone eats what they don't want rather than what they do, that it leads to later overeating or binging. It is more important to be in tune with hunger and fullness than to eliminate specific foods. What it takes to lose weight is not that different from what it takes to maintain the weight loss. You have to enjoy the way you eat and stay satisfied to maintain a plan. You don't want to just lose weight, you want to keep it off and never diet again. You need a relationship with eating that is sustainable. Otherwise you will just keep gaining  the weight back which is proven to lower metabolism and increase set point weight.

Example: You are having a "good" food day and you really want a candy bar or a frappe; you decide to have it. Instead of enjoying it while relaxing with a friend or a book, you eat it quickly by yourself and instead of enjoying it, you feel guilt and judgement towards yourself and think "I will never lose weight. What's wrong with me?" Not only does this disempower and discourage the part of you that wants to lose weight, but it also most often leads one to think;  I blew it. I may as well start over tomorrow. I'll just have some cookies now. I've been wanting cookies for weeks. That way of thinking oftern leads to a whole day or even weeks of overeating. And that adds a lot more calories than the original choice.

I explain this concept to my clients as no different than driving North from LA to San Francisco and when you realize you have gone 10 miles past your exit, you think; I may as well go to Portland now. One cookie or dessert or even a meal at a drive through does not make you gain weight. It is the attitude of guilt and judgment that actually sabotages you and ends up adding extra weight.
Losing weight is hard. It takes time and consistency. If you are not enjoying the process, you won't have learned a new way of eating. One needs a good relationship to food and body to reach weight loss goals and sustain it. If you can't maintain the weight loss, what was it worth?

Toni Kohn, M.S., R.D.