How it works: Phase 2

Welcome to sanity!!!

Phase 2: Feel the hunger! Feel the fullness!

You’ve totally nailed Phase 1, and your brain now knows that you don’t have to eat every morsel of food you ever see because you aren’t ***literally*** starving to death.giphy

I hope you’re feeling happy and hopeful and free. You don’t have to count anything anymore! No strategizing or scheduling or shaming; just eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Everything else can fall into place from here.

Now that you’ve cleared the sizable hurdle of brain chemistry, you can work your way through the mental and emotional residue built up over years of dieting and wishing your body would be different. It’s also time to start introducing delicious, whole foods into your daily life, not because you “should,” but because you want to.

Here’s what to do next:

  1. Choose natural whenever you can: Why does it matter to eat natural foods? I think the human body is best equipped to recognize fullness when it can identify the ingredients. Remember that we’re just mammals who evolve very very slowly, and there’s no way our bodies know how to respond to modern creations like aspartame or Splenda. Artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners are at the top of my list of things to avoid whenever I can.
  2. Learn to cook, even just a little: The best way to keep your life full of whole foods is to cook them yourself. Unlike prepared foods from a grocery or restaurant, you get to choose what ingredients go in it, like sugar, salt, and preservatives. For many people, this may feel like an uphill battle (I mean, I was well into my mid-20s before I learned how to scramble an egg…how the hell?), but with a little patience and some super-simple recipes, you’ll feel your kitchen confidence grow more than you ever imagined.
  3. Listen to your body: Now that the hunger chemicals in your brain aren’t making so much noise, you can really listen to your body. What times of day do you tend to be hungriest? What foods make you feel full in a good way? What foods make you feel full in a bad way? Etc etc etc.
  4. Accept yourself: I will never have long skinny legs or the J. Crew body I always dreamed of. Even though my mom did, which is just so unfair! Too bad. I wasn’t born with that body type, and nothing is ever going to change that. I am short with hips and thighs and my waistline comes and goes, but my body is healthy and strong, and that’s about as lucky as you can get in life.
  5. Change your perspective: Lose the dieting mentality and you’ll gain a better perspective on what this is all about: long-term, sustainable healthy living that benefits the body, mind, and soul. Don’t work out to burn calories; do it to strengthen your heart and lungs. Don’t make food choices based on what will make you fat or skinny; pay attention to your body’s cues and try to listen. Don’t banish gluten from your life because you can’t “control” yourself around bread; do it if it makes your stomach hurt or your brain feel foggy.

Above all, eat for satiation and satisfaction. For purpose and pleasure. There’s room for both in this beautiful life.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. ilanakalm says:

    Holy crap, I love this so much! Thanks for sharing. I totally relate to what you say in step 4, and am working on that one every day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! Sending you strength to keep making the effort every day. Body acceptance is HARD. WORK.


  2. I have a question. I totally believe in this- everything you say and I’m trying to follow the phase 1.
    It’s been 3 days and I feel absolutely awful. I feel fat sick to my stomach. How do I stop this? I want to continue but this eating whenever and how ever much I want is making me feel terrible.
    I totally understand how I ‘broke’ myself wit all the dieting but I can’t do this. I feel awful!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can do this — you ARE doing it!! What you’re feeling right now is your brain and body slowly relearning how to communicate and work together. Your body says: “Wait…ow. This hurts. I don’t like this.” Your brain says: “Whoops, sorry, my bad. I’m relearning what full feels like. I don’t want to eat to the point of pain anymore. I don’t like it either.” Maybe the next time you sit down to eat, or maybe a week from now, you’ll hear a little voice in the back of your head saying “Let’s not get so full this time. I don’t like it as much as I thought I would.” Just keep listening for your body and brain’s subtle cues of fullness and satisfaction, and check in with yourself every so often along the way. “Am I hungry now? Yep. Am I enjoying this? Yes. Am I filling up? Not just yet. Is this bite as delicious as the first, or are we getting into diminishing returns?” etc etc etc. And try to be patient, even though I know that’s the hardest part. Your fullness hormones have been suppressed since you started dieting, and they will need a minute to rev up to this exciting new world without restriction.

      For me, the stomachaches were the most helpful and revelatory part of the whole process — they were so unmistakably AWFUL that I could finally see with clarity for the first time in my life: “Eating to the point of discomfort is not fun. Why would I want to live my life this way?” I can have cake whenever I want, but why would I want to eat cake until it hurts? I know firsthand how terrible it makes me feel and how long it takes to feel better. Eating cake whenever I want it also means that I can stop eating whenever I DON’T want it anymore.

      You are also chipping away at the seductive allure of eating large quantities of food — it’s the forbidden fruit of anyone who’s ever been on a diet. If you’re like me, you may have viewed binges as a naughty little rebellion to look forward to, a reward after a really hard day. Now you’re doing this WITH PERMISSION because it’s not forbidden anymore. Are you having a blast? NO! You’re feeling terrible! By feeling that firsthand, on your own terms, you are redefining the way you view food: the point is not sheer quantity — the point is finding that sweet spot of satisfaction. The challenging part is that the sweet spot is not a fixed point. Hunger is different from day to day, hour to hour, and every time you eat, the sweet spot moves…maybe a little, maybe a lot. Some days you might want one slice of pizza, some days you might want four. The more you practice connecting your brain and body, the better you will get at finding that sweet spot, each and every time.

      The promised land is when your body feels physically sated AND your brain feels mentally satisfied. Think about really wanting ice cream, for instance, but feeding yourself chicken with vegetables. Are you physically sated? Probably. But mentally satisfied? No! You were craving something sweet but you got something savory! So go have some ice cream after dinner and boom, now you’re sated AND satisfied.

      I know that this is a pretty strange process. But you are going to learn SO much about yourself along the way — what foods you like, what foods you thought you liked but actually are kinda blah. Be an investigator and ask a lot of questions. Just remember to observe, don’t judge! Here are some examples:
      “Do I tend to like eating three main meals a day? Or lots of smaller meals at more frequent intervals?”
      “Is there a certain time of day that I tend to feel hungriest?”
      “Do some foods still feel scary and forbidden? Why do you think that is?”
      “I know what super-full feels like. What does kinda full feel like?”
      “Do some people make me feel anxious about my eating? Why do you think that is?”
      “Have I ever felt physically full but not mentally satisfied?”
      “When I’m feeling ‘fat’…what does that really mean?”

      Diets have brainwashed us all into thinking that we are not smart enough to eat without rules. YOU can prove them wrong. Just because nothing is off limits, doesn’t mean you want everything all the time. I COULD drink a pitcher of mimosas every morning, but I don’t WANT to — the hangovers would be unbearable and so not worth it! I hope your stomachaches are just the beginning of building trust with your body and brain’s natural intuition. Don’t forget to be kind and patient with yourself along the way. Thank you SO much for reading here, and please let me know if there’s anything else I can help with! ❤


  3. hum says:

    Thank you so much
    You really saved me. This is the exact thing I need. Your response made perfect sense.
    Thank you for your quick response! Are you on Facebook?
    Would love to share with my friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so so so glad that I was able to help!!! I think you’re going to do great. You are rebuilding trust and confidence in yourself that YOU are the expert of your body. It takes time and effort and introspection, but holy smokes it’s so rewarding 🙂

      I am not on Facebook unfortunately, but I would be honored if you decided to share a link to my blog on your page! (And I am on Instagram and Pinterest if you are ever interested!) Thank you so much for your comments. I’m so glad you’re here.


  4. Kay says:

    thank you so much!
    thank you thank you thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Abigail Stubbs says:

    I’m about to begin Phase 1 having just had a very bad few days. Disordered eating has coincided with the menopause (great!) and I think crazy hormone changes don’t help and can be a main cause of experiencing eating disorders for the first time in middle age. Absolutely agree that obsessive thinking about restrictive / ‘clean’ food choices can be incredibly corrosive and damage one’s one ability to take control of real hunger and recognise it. I ‘successfully’ completed the Whole 30 and I actually think that has been disastrous for me. I’m so tired of it all and love your practical, no=nonsense approach. Wish me luck! And THANK YOU – a beacon of good sense among a sea of online confusion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh the many, many splendors of womanhood. SIGH. That is so tough and I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with disordered eating on top of everything else. I bet you’re onto something about the hormone correlation — we’ve been socialized to believe that that kind of stuff is all in our heads, but I’ve noticed an undeniable relationship between my hormones, hunger, and feelings about eating.

      I’m sending you all the relaxed, restorative, patient, permissive vibes as you dive in to Phase 1! It’s easy for some, excruciating for others, but give yourself time and grace — I truly believe it’s the best gift you can give yourself. One of the hardest parts, in my opinion, is handing over full control to your body. You’ll probably want more food than you WANT yourself to want, and that can feel so scary and out of control. But that’s part of the process: learning and accepting that your body just isn’t meant to be controlled.

      All the best to you, and let me know if you have any questions along the way!


      1. Poppy51 says:

        Thank you so much for your message and support, it’s a real lifeline. Yes, you’re right, it feels so counter intuitive to just ‘give in’ but knowing this has been the best way to escape the binge/restrict madness for you and others gives me strength! One quick tip that might help others – I ceremonially took all my diet, ‘well being’, low carb plan etc etc books to the charity shop (I’m in the UK – I think you call them thrift stores in the US?) and also unsubscribed from every single ‘wellness’, healthy eating, etc blog and mailing list. So no more emails in the inbox adding to the obsessive reading about giving up this or restricting that. Feels good to be free of all of that jazz! Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Excellent advice!! Now that’s the kind of cleanse I can get behind 😉 It takes time to establish new patterns of thought and behavior around food, but mere minutes to clear out the inbox and the Instagram feed! The relief is immediate, and I love the symbolism of saying “Not today, diet culture! Access DENIED.”


  6. Yvonne McAllister says:

    This is by far the best reading that I have read in a very very long time. How refreshing to actually feel ‘normal’ by just reading something. I’ve spent 40 years thinking that I’m not worth anything because I was the ‘fat’ one in the family and the fattest in my class and the fattest in my work. I even had a gastric band fitted thinking that I finally found the answer to my binge eating but no, my behaviours only got worse as now I can’t eat normal food but anything that melts I can eat to the cows come home. Everything that you have written makes so much common sense that it’s actually hard to fathom because when you binge eat you live a cycle and continual circle of emotional distress that never ends. Well I’m so glad I read your 6m2s because my new approach starts now, even thinking that I can eat what I want when I want feels like a burden just rolling off of me. Thank you so much having this info to read and for the understanding that you have. I look forward to reading more 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Yvonne, I’m so happy you’re here! And I’m truly sorry about the road you’ve traveled up to this point. It’s so disgraceful how we are made to feel guilt and shame over the size of our bodies — even as children! I was the largest in my family too, and I knew that thinness was “good,” so therefore I must have been doing something wrong. How could I live in the same house and be made of the same genes and look so different? I started eating in secret very early on, so no one would witness my wrongdoing.

      I hope intuitive eating will be as life-changing for you as it has been for me. I can’t tell from your note whether you still have the gastric band or have had it removed, but please do take good care of yourself if you still have eating restrictions for medical reasons. I wonder if there are any body-positive, pro-HAES (Health at Every Size, another great resource) nutritionists or counselors in your area who can guide you through transitioning to intuitive eating post-gastric band surgery. Many also do phone sessions.

      I can’t remember who made this observation first, but I find it so helpful: The same behavior that society encourages in fat people would be hospitalized as anorexic in a thin person. No matter what size your body is, you should be allowed to eat and exist without a cloud of shame. Welcome to the dark side 😉

      p.s. Don’t be discouraged if you face some ups and downs along the way! One day may feel like you are so giddy and unburdened that you could FLY! Then the next might feel like “what have I done, what will people think, what will become of all the ‘progress’ I made,” etc etc etc. This is a normal part of the process. Forty years of societal messages can’t be shaken off overnight. Whenever you’re feeling low like that, just pay close attention to your thoughts without judgment — you can learn so much about yourself by recognizing your triggers and patterns. Please stick around and keep us posted with any updates you’d like to share! xoxo


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