What To Eat? Three Secret Questions To Ask Yourself

In our modern world, we encounter a deluge of contradictory messages regarding our dietary choices. The simple question, “what to eat?” quickly becomes overwhelming, confusing, and anxiety-ridden, creating an internal tug-of-war between our cravings and the latest nutritional advice.

Ironically, the criteria for categorizing foods as “good” or “bad” seem to shift every few years, leaving individuals bewildered and overwhelmed by the discordant and often arbitrary dietary mandates.

Yet, it is entirely possible to strike a harmonious balance between eating for nourishment and indulging in culinary pleasures. The challenge lies in silencing the cacophony of voices and finding that equilibrium when it comes to deciding what to eat.

Begin this transformative journey by asking yourself three straightforward questions when hunger beckons: “What do I want to eat?” “What do I need to eat?” and “What do I have to eat?”

Question 1: What Do I Want to Eat?

The first question to help you with what to eat is, “What do I want to eat?” might catch you off guard. Consider those moments when you’ve tried to resist a particular food, perhaps those tempting Girl Scout Cookies that arrived just as you embarked on a new low-carb regimen.

Initially, you may inspect the label, confirming that they fall outside your dietary boundaries. Consequently, you stow them in the freezer. But, lo and behold, two days later, their siren call emanates from their icy sanctuary, “Pssst. We’re in here!” You valiantly resist, opting for olives, cubes of cheese, leftover meatloaf, celery sticks, and a couple of pieces of low-carb toast. Yet, your hunger remains unsatisfied.

“Hey! We’re in here, and we taste divine when frozen!” You eventually succumb to your cravings, indulging in two cookies. “Well, I’ve already slipped up, might as well devour the entire sleeve and start anew tomorrow,” you concede. Does this sound familiar?

Acknowledging your true cravings without judgment can help you evade feelings of deprivation and regain control over your food choices. You might worry that if you constantly honor your cravings, you’ll always gravitate towards foods you “shouldn’t” eat. Initially, this may seem true as cravings tend to intensify when suppressed for prolonged periods. However, once you release the guilt surrounding certain foods, they gradually lose their hold on you.

Embrace the wisdom of your body, and you’ll discover an innate desire for a diverse range of foods that contribute to your health and contentment.

what to eat

The second question to ask yourself to help you decide what to eat is…

Question 2: What Do I Need to Eat?

While it’s crucial to recognize that food choices are not inherently “good” or “bad,” it’s evident that some foods offer superior nutritional value compared to others. When contemplating your dietary selections, pause to inquire, “What does my body require?” Uphold the principles of diversity, balance, and moderation as your guiding principles. It’s ok to use your noggin’ too and factor in nutritional information, your individual health considerations, familial medical history, your planned daily meals and activities, and your body’s unique reactions to specific foods.

Remember, nutrition is a TOOL, not a weapon. Decide how and when you wish to use it, but it’s information, NOT the LAW.

Help yourself enjoy more healthy choices more effortlessly by focusing on fresh foods, appealing combinations, new flavors, and interesting recipes instead of just numbers and food rules. 

And remember, one food or treat has zero power to cause instant weight gain or disease! 

What to eat

Question 3: What Do I Have to Eat?

The crux of the final question to help you with your decision making around what to eat is, “What do I have to eat?” all lies in preparation. When hunger strikes, and a vending machine stands as your sole option, you’re inclined to select a snack that may lack nutritional value, taste uninspiring, and not truly align with your hunger.

Instead, strive to maintain a repertoire of healthful foods readily available, ensuring they resonate with your palate when cravings arise. By doing so, you’ll prevent the scenario where tempting foods beckon you insistently, urging you to indulge. Google fast, easy meal ideas or scroll through platforms like Pinterest to get some fresh ideas that won’t take up too much time in the kitchen.

Now granted, you won’t always exert control over the food options accessible to you. You could know both what you WANT and NEED to eat, but what do you HAVE available? Sometimes, your options might be Panera, McDonald’S, or Wendy’s and you simply have to make the best of it versus seeing it as a failure and throwing in the towel. You still have choices! 

So whether dining out at a restaurant, partaking in an office potluck, or visiting a friend’s home, take a moment to assess those available choices. Pose the question, “Is there a nutritious option that satisfies my WANTS and NEEDS without inducing feelings of deprivation?” Consider, for instance, whether frozen yogurt might suffice instead of ice cream on this occasion. Should your heart yearn for the latter, then indulge in that scoop of ice cream without remorse.

Finding the right balance of healthy eating is ALL about experimenting, so remind yourself that there’s no “right” or “wrong”. Stay curious, and keep exploring.

Having foods available is sometimes a matter of improving your logistics rather than your mindfulness. In today’s world, done-for-you meal kits and services are at your fingertips and are worth considering to help make your meal planning a bit easier for you!

In Conclusion…

As you begin to use these three questions to help you decide on WHAT to eat, know that your answers about what you want, need, and have available will differ at times- and that’s ok! You can’t always predict what you want, need, or have available. Asking yourself these questions and aligning your food choices with your authentic cravings and your body’s nutritional necessities WILL yield greater satisfaction and heightened enjoyment, making healthy eating a much more natural process!



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Author Shelby McDaniel

Hi! I’m Shelby and I’m a food lovin’ nutritionist but…I’m not a regular nutritionist. I’m an intuitive eating specialist, eating psychology practitioner, and Certified Mind Body Nutrition Coach, here to free you from diet culture once and for all! Because you deserve peace with food, eating, and your body. (Yes, I'm talking to YOU!)

5 Weight Loss Truths The Diet Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know

The weight loss industry is worth billions of dollars, filled with products, supplements, plans, and services all promising the elusive goal of the perfect body. But despite all the hype, there are fundamental truths about weight loss that the industry often glosses over. Here, we’ll unravel five weight loss truths that can empower you to approach weight loss with more knowledge, wisdom, and realistic expectations.

1. There's No "One Size Fits All" Diet

The Truth Behind the Diet Plans

Marketers often push “revolutionary” diet plans that promise incredible results. The issue? People are different. What works wonderfully for one person might not work at all for another.

Listen to Your Body

Your genetics, metabolism, lifestyle, and personal preferences all play essential roles in determining the most suitable diet for you. The best diet is the one that aligns with your unique makeup, is nutritionally balanced, and can be sustained over the long term. You might find that you pluck principals from various diet experiments that DO fit beautifully into your lifestyle that ARE sustainable. At the end of the day, it’s about feeling good. If you hate what you’re eating and feel deprived, obviously that’s not the best fit for you so don’t hesitate to modify your plan and approach if necessary. You do NOT need anyone’s permission to do so! 

2. Weight Loss Isn't Always Linear

The Scale Doesn't Tell the Whole Story

The diet industry often promotes rapid weight loss, but the reality is that weight loss is usually slow and nonlinear.

Understanding Weight Fluctuations

Your weight can fluctuate daily due to various factors like water retention, muscle gain, or even the time of day. The faster you lose it, typically means you’re taking an unbalanced approach will will one day come to an end followed by a rush of all the weight that you just lost. A slow and steady approach focusing on building healthy habits will lead to sustainable weight loss over time. I recommend that you do NOT step on the scale more than once per week (if at all). Measure your progress by monitoring your improvements in mood, sleep, energy, bloating, digestion, and how your clothes fit.

Not only is your weight loss NOT linear, neither is the JOURNEY to achieving it. I like to tell my clients it’s less like a straight line trending downwards that we always see in graphs and more like an EKG. Expect moments that don’t go your way. Expect to have moments of doubt. It’s normal and all part of the process. Don’t give up. Success is learning from those mistakes and getting faster at recovering quickly! 

weight loss truths

3. Supplements and Detox Products Aren't Magic Pills

The Misleading Promises of Quick Fixes

From fat-burning pills to detox teas, the industry is rife with products promising immediate results. Sadly, most of them are ineffective at best, and harmful at worst. 

Focus on Whole Foods and Balanced Eating

Rather than relying on unregulated supplements, concentrate on nourishing your body with whole, natural foods. Your body is designed to detox and keep you healthy. Make it easier for your body to do so by giving it more whole foods than processed foods. Whole foods will have the fighting power nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties that will help your body thrive. A less inflamed body will be healthier and happier, which WILL 100% help you on your weight loss journey. 

4. Exercise Is Essential but Not a Weight Loss Silver Bullet

Exercise Alone Isn't Enough

The industry often overemphasizes exercise as the primary key to weight loss. While physical activity is essential for overall health, it’s not the sole determinant of weight loss. In fact, studies show it plays only a 20-25% role in weight loss for most humans. 

Understanding the Role of Diet

You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. A balanced approach that includes both healthy eating and regular physical activity is the most effective way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Keyword…”balanced”, not cut all your carbs, stop eating, or see sugar as evil kind of approach. 

I also suggest you replace “exercise” with the word “joyful movement” to help you build a more positive association with moving more if you are struggling in this area of your health. When you find moments to do what makes you and your body feel good (instead of exercising like you “should”), you’ll do more of it! Don’t set a duration or intensity goal, just go with it and see where it takes you! 

5. Mental and Emotional Health Are Crucial

Weight Loss Is More Than Just Calories

The industry often reduces weight loss to a simple equation of calories in versus calories out. However, your emotional well-being and relationship with food are equally important.

Adopting a Healthy Relationship with Food

Understanding your emotional triggers, eating mindfully, and building a positive relationship with food can be more beneficial than following restrictive diets. What is a healthy relationship with food? Check out this blog to learn more. Your mindset influences your body, which means, your mental and emotional health 100% impact your weight loss. Even more important than that, your mental and emotional health impact your overall health and quality of life! 

If you are struggling emotionally and that is playing a role in your relationship with food, this is our speciality. Check out all the ways we are here to support you. Struggling with your mindset about yourself and food doesn’t have to be a constant in your life, you CAN change it! 


Weight loss is a complex and highly individualized journey. While the diet industry often preaches quick fixes and easy solutions, the truth is that sustainable weight loss requires a more nuanced and holistic approach.

By understanding these five weight loss truths, you can set realistic expectations, make informed decisions, and work towards a healthier, happier you. Always remember that investing time in learning about your unique body and mind will pay off far more than chasing the latest dieting fad.



Author Shelby McDaniel

Hi! I’m Shelby and I’m a food lovin’ nutritionist but…I’m not a regular nutritionist. I’m an intuitive eating specialist, eating psychology practitioner, and Certified Mind Body Nutrition Coach, here to free you from diet culture once and for all! Because you deserve peace with food, eating, and your body. (Yes, I'm talking to YOU!)

Am I Worthy of Success? How To Stop Self Sabotage

Am I worthy of success? Am I deserving of happiness? Am I deserving of the good measure that flows with success? I  can’t see myself as being fit and healthy, or being happy and loved as I am…with the body that I have. Ugh…how do I stop self-sabotage? !

Does this sound like you? If so, then we’ve got some work to do my friend because if you truly believe this, you will NEVER EVER reach your goals. 

This is what we call a limiting belief and limiting beliefs are are often at the root of why we self sabotage our very own success. I could give you all the mindfulness tips, healthy eating tips in the world but at the end of the day if you believe you aren’t worthy to be successful or are undeserving of the success that is possible for you – I promise you you’ll find a way to sabotage yourself to align with these inner beliefs. 

Beliefs can be extremely powerful and control our behavior. Thoughts whether they are unconscious or conscious to us, impact our feelings which impact our actions we take or don’t take. These deep core beliefs like I am never enough or worthy enough often often comes from things that people said to you or about you, and they have convinced you. They programmed you to see yourself in a limited parameter. And so when you see opportunities beyond how you’ve been programmed, you reject it because you don’t feel like you’re deserving of it. 

And also because of this programming, you contribute each unfortunate experience in your life back to I’m not good enough or I’m not deserving of, so much so, that you believe no matter how much you do, no matter how much you accomplish, how many friends you acquire, you’re just not good enough or deserving of what you desire. 

But what if I were to tell you that the thought in your mind that you are never good enough and undeserving that you have embodied to be true was just a load of you-know-what? Yeah right Shelby, I know I’m not enough is what you might be saying, but let me ask you something…what if I’m right? 

What if I’m right and you’re over there wasting your time and letting opportunities just slip right by you because you refuse to be open to the possibility that maybe you can change how you feel about yourself. What if I’m right and you could be feeling like you’re on top of the mountain screaming in success but instead you’re stuck because you refuse to be open to the possibilities that what you believe to be true about yourself – isn’t?! 

The problem with self-sabotage, for many of us is, that we get into the habit of it. As humans we are creatures of habit. Our brains are literally meant to automate what we practice and do often, day in and day out, as a means to save energy. These repetitive patterns then become our emotional home, that’s our place of familiarity that we tend to unconsciously always find our way back to. 

But what do we know about habits? We can change them! I’m going to outline some steps for today to help you break down these beliefs and replace them with ones that align with the person you are yearning to become. Now,these steps will require some footwork but hey, if you really want to change your beliefs, you’ve got to put in the effort. 

How To Stop Self-Sabotage: Step #1

Write down all the old beliefs that have kept you from following through on your goal in the past that you are willing to release and no longer allow to infiltrate your future. What pain has this caused you? What interruptions in your life have these beliefs created? What have you missed out on? What hardships have you and are you experiencing? 

Make it hurt. This is going to start building some negative, painful neuro associations in your brain with the thought of not changing. We know most people’s brains naturally move away from neuro associations it has with pain and moves towards neuro associations it has with things that are pleasurable.

How To Stop Self-Sabotage: Step #2

Visualize your success. Just as past experiences impact your beliefs about what is possible, so does your imagined experience of the future. It is absolutely essential that you create a positive neuro association with your future self. Studies show that visualization is so important when it comes to rewiring your brain. No one else can do this for you. 

Prime yourself for success by taking time to visualize your success. Write down your vision or make a digital (, Pinterest) or physical vision board. Visualize your success that includes what is important to you, what you wish to accomplish and experience, but does NOT include your limiting beliefs! If visualizing your success is filled only with uncertainty, doubt, and fear…then you’ve found the hole you’ve got to plug. Your brain won’t move forward willingly if it only associates your future self with massive amounts of pain!  

How To Stop Self-Sabotage: Step #3

Replace your habitual smack talk you say to yourself. Write down new beliefs that will empower you from this point forward. I AM statements are very powerful here. Instead of, I’m not worthy for example, replace that with I AM worthy or I’ll never lose this weight to I’m in the process of figuring it out, I’ll get there. How would you encourage your friend? Child? Apply it to YOU too! Review these every day and don’t just say it, EMBODY IT. FEEL IT. Remember, what if I’m right and you can change the trajectory of your life as you know it? 

How To Stop Self-Sabotage: Step #4

Write down ALL your reasons you MUST remove these limiting beliefs? What are your reasons you MUST take action towards the success you envision? (Change occurs when we move from something being a “should” to becoming a “must” change in our lives). Get real with yourself. 

Maybe you MUST change because let’s face it, you’re depressed! Maybe it’s a MUST change for you because how you feel sucks! Maybe it’s a MUST change for you because your health literally depends on it, maybe it’s a MUST change for you because you see your child beginning to take on the very same beliefs and unhealthy habits you do? 

How To Stop Self-Sabotage: Step #5

Finally, review your new beliefs and vision for success often and work hard to anchor them into your body. Imagine the feelings these new beliefs will bring to your life, feel them in your soul, celebrate this feeling! How grateful you are to be (confident, healthy, loved, valued, successful, blessed, etc). Repeat Repeat Repeat.

Now, not feeling worthy enough or feeling undeserving isn’t the specific belief you struggle with but you continually see the patterns of self sabotage, then consider signing up for a free 14 day trial to my Diet Freedom Membership. Why? Because I’m throwing in a bonus Self Sabotage workshop that will expand on other reasons why we self sabotage and give you even more in depth steps that you can take to put all of that to a halt. 

Think about what would be possible for you if you could just figure this one very important piece to this puzzle? 

Author Shelby McDaniel

Hi! I’m Shelby and I’m a food lovin’ nutritionist but…I’m not a regular nutritionist. I’m an intuitive eating specialist, eating psychology practitioner, and Certified Mind Body Nutrition Coach, here to free you from diet culture once and for all! Because you deserve peace with food, eating, and your body. (Yes, I'm talking to YOU!)

No Food Rules Doesn’t Mean Eat It ALL

In recent years, the concept of “no food rules” has gained significant popularity as a way to promote a healthy relationship with food. The idea is to move away from strict diets and rigid eating patterns and instead embrace a more intuitive and flexible approach to nourishing our bodies. While this approach is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, it is essential to understand that “no food rules” doesn’t equate to a free-for-all when it comes to our eating habits. In this article, we’ll explore what the no foods rules movement is and is NOT. 

Understanding the "no food rules" movement

The “no food rules” movement encourages individuals to reject the idea of labeling foods as “good” or “bad” and, instead, listen to their bodies’ needs. This is not arguing that some foods are more nutrient-rich than others. It simply is promoting the freedom to enjoy a wide variety of foods without guilt or shame to help individuals find THEIR perfect balance with eating. This approach also encourages mindfulness, allowing individuals to focus on internal cues of hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. Overall, it supports the notion that all foods can fit into a healthy eating pattern when consumed in moderation.

What "no food rules" ISN'T....

While the concept of “no food rules” is well-intentioned, it’s crucial to understand that it does not give us permission to consume unlimited quantities of any food. Unfortunately, some people misinterpret this message and use it as an excuse for overeating or overindulging in unhealthy food choices excessively. After all, most individuals struggling with their relationship with food are used to dichotomous, all or nothing swings with eating. This misunderstanding can lead to negative consequences, both physically and mentally, and sends the reconfirming message that one cannot operate without hardcore diet rules – which is absolutely false. 

no food rules

The power of permission.

Due to the misinterpretation of “no food rules” people avoid even attempting to explore a more flexible eating approach. It can feel scary if dieting is all you’ve known! But those that truly lean into the process quickly realize what I call the “power of permission”. 

When you truly give yourself permission to mindfully (not mindlessly) eat what you feel you both want and need when you’re hungry, the crazed compulsive pull you used to feel to such “bad” foods actually begins to fade. Knowing that if you truly did want that ice cream, cookie, or other that you CAN have it mindfully, it takes away the shiny glow and angelic hymns away from your fantasized food and it becomes, well….just another food! 

What people need to know is that what you feel you want and need to eat at your meals initially WILL change over time. You may find yourself wanting and deciding to have something on your “forbidden foods” list the first week, maybe even more than once – mindfully. But then you may not have it the next week. So if you’re panicking about how the heck you’re going to lose weight if you mindfully have a few cookies as you begin this new relationship with food, I promise things only continue to settle into their rightful balanced place over time.

Here’s an example scenario of what happens 99% of the time: You have a cookie after lunch and are loving the permission and are actually enjoying what you eat. You don’t even binge eat later in the day! 

But then you might find after a few days of this you find yourself feeling a little more sluggish in the afternoons, or maybe you aren’t as hungry for your later meals as much as you’d prefer to be. You’ll then find yourself naturally wanting to make a change to how often you have that cookie after lunch, and it will NOT feel like a food rule. You’ll be making this decision because you actually want to feel good, not be good. BIG difference! It will feel like an objective, natural, intuitive eating decision to have less cookies during the week instead of a hardcore food rule you feel you “should” follow to help you lose weight. 

Let's talk balance...

Finding balance is key. Even within a flexible eating approach, it’s essential to ensure that our overall diet consists of a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. 

While no food should be off-limits, it’s crucial to practice moderation and consider the nutritional value of the foods we choose to consume. How can you incorporate foods that are both nutrient rich AND conveniently delicious? With today’s resources, there is NO excuse not to be able to find something healthy and enjoyable. 

Now, what balance means for you will differ from others, and will differ at different stages as you cultivate a healthier relationship with food. My advice is to do your best to eat more real food that you absolutely enjoy, but honor your needs for some fun foods too. Listen to how ALL foods make you feel, even the nutrient-rich foods. Your body is always giving you feedback. 

no food rules

Listen to your body.

One of the fundamental principles of a flexible eating approach is listening to our bodies’ signals of hunger and fullness. It’s important to pay attention to internal cues and eat when hungry, stopping when comfortably satisfied. This practice helps prevent mindless eating and promotes a healthier relationship with food. Tuning in to how specific foods make us feel can also guide us in making choices that support our overall well-being. 

But warning: this doesn’t always come easy. Sometimes it’s a completely relearning process as decades of dieting can really put a wrench on our body’s ability to tune in to those hunger fullness cues and you may totally suck at knowing your hunger or fullness cues at first. (Here is a helpful article if you find you aren’t feeling those cues). You may be better at tuning into one versus the other, or you may need help defining your hunger and fullness cues, and you know what? That’s ok. That’s why we’re here because this whole “flexible eating approach” sounds easy but it’s not always easy to implement. 

"No food rules" is NOT anti-structure!

Another misinterpretation of “no rood rules” is that there is no structure and you “wing it” all the time. Who in their right mind in today’s world can just “wing it” with their eating?? Practically no one! You’ll still find an eating pattern, but one that works for you. Maybe you find yourself hungry 3-4 times per day, for you maybe that’s 8am, 1pm, and 5:30pm. There’s your eating structure to which you want to ensure you HAVE food available that you want and need, which means – yes! You still will need to plan some things out! Being proactive with your menu planning is NOT a restrictive act of eating. It’s a proactive move to ensure you have nourishing foods available that YOU both enjoy and that feel good with your body!

Let's wrap this up...

“No food rules” represents a positive shift away from strict diets and encourages a more intuitive and flexible approach to eating. However, it’s crucial to understand that this approach does not mean eating without any consideration for balance or moderation. By embracing a balanced perspective, practicing portion control, and listening to our bodies’ cues, we can enjoy a wide variety of foods while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. 

If this all sounds a little too good to be true OR too overwhelming, consider becoming a Diet Freedom member. Why? Because we KNOW it’s a mental game and we’ve got the structure to give you the tools, the science, and practices you need to truly implement a more flexible eating approach into your everyday life and help shave YEARS off you trying to figure it out on your own. We got you! 





Author Shelby McDaniel

Hi! I’m Shelby and I’m a food lovin’ nutritionist but…I’m not a regular nutritionist. I’m an intuitive eating specialist, eating psychology practitioner, and Certified Mind Body Nutrition Coach, here to free you from diet culture once and for all! Because you deserve peace with food, eating, and your body. (Yes, I'm talking to YOU!)

5 Tips To A Positive Body Image This Summer

With the summer season upon us, it’s usually NOT a hot time for positive body image. Rather, it’s a time of year filled with triggers around food and body comparison. We understand the struggles, and that’s why we’re here to offer friendly advice on how to navigate these triggers so you don’t have to hide away from all the fun and let your triggers keep you planted on your couch eating Cheetos in front of the television. Let’s ENJOY this summer and feel good in your body, shall we? 

Trigger #1: Media & Social Media

Ah, social media—the land of picture-perfect beach bodies, “summer-ready” aesthetics, and filters galore. It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game. But here’s the thing: those images are often heavily edited and don’t reflect reality. So, let’s take control and limit our media exposure. 

Positive Body Image Solution: Do a social media detox. Unfollow accounts that trigger negative feelings about your body image and replace them with those promoting body positivity and self-acceptance, and LIVING! Oh and remember, just because they may look “happy and slim” doesn’t mean they are actually happy and healthy!!

Trigger #2: Swimsuit Shopping

“I love swimsuit shopping!” said no one EVER. The harsh lighting, the mirror magnifying every “flaw”, endless rows of different styles, and the pressure to look a certain way can easily trigger negative body image thoughts and create a sense of urgency to hop on the latest diet trend.

Positive Body Image Solution: Remember, your worth is not determined by a size or a label. You’re on your own unique journey. You’re working hard on YOU. You’re in the process of learning what you need to learn to nurture and feel good in your body. Your body has a story. You’re doing the hard work and not taking the quick fix way out. So hold your head up high and own where you are at. 

Find swimsuits that make you feel comfortable and rock it with pride. Own your story. Respecting your body also means to ensure you buy clothes, undergarments, swimsuits, etc that are comfortable. If someone else doesn’t like your suit – that’s THEIR problem (and they can go shove it!). 

Also, when you’re feeling triggered at any time, step into gratitude. Thank your body, your heart, your lungs for allowing you to be here and now, at this very moment, and for giving you the opportunity to enjoy today, summer, and beyond. 

positive body image in pool

Trigger #3: Beach & Pool Parties

Summer means beach days and pool parties—a time to relax and have fun. However, when surrounded by others in revealing outfits, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to those around us. 

Positive Body Image Solution: Instead of fixating on what you perceive as flaws, shift your runaway brain back to focusing on the joy of the moment. Instead of obsessing over your appearance, focus on the fun and happiness that these activities bring. How blessed are you to have these opportunities? Celebrate your body’s capabilities and the wonderful memories you’re creating along the way!

And when you’re having a challenging body image day try this: state “I am having a challenging body image day… AND… I am [insert one of your top 3 characteristics here]

Example: I am having a challenging body image day AND I AM an amazing mom or fur baby mama. Or, I am having a challenging body image day and I AM a badass friend or creative artist.


Trigger #4: Summer Diet Trends

Summer often brings about a focus on “summer diets,” “beach body goals,” and more opportunities to have foods that in our diet brains feel we “shouldn’t” be having. These changes in eating habits can easily trigger disordered thoughts and behaviors, making it easy to feel like we need to lose weight NOW and that we can’t possibly enjoy our summer looking like “THIS”.

Positive Body Image Solution: Instead of succumbing to restrictive diets or rigid food rules that others get suckered into, practice mindful eating which includes balance, variety, and moderation. 

Listen to your body’s cues of hunger and fullness, and choose foods that nourish you physically and emotionally. Enjoy the seasonal fruits and vegetables, indulge in a refreshing ice cream cone, and savor the flavors of summer without guilt. One food or one meal doesn’t cause instant fat gain. 

When you deny yourself the opportunity to have some of your summer favorites, you will only crave them more and eventually have them mindlessly. So just have them mindfully to begin with! 

Also remind yourself also that diets don’t WORK (literally) and going back to dieting isn’t a healthy option for you because:

  • Up to 2⁄3 of dieters gain back more weight than they ever lose 
  • 66% of dieters regain all their lost weight in 1 year. Almost all will gain it back in 5 years through no fault of their own (that’s biology for you!)
  • Repeat dieting has been shown to be harmful to mental health 
  • 35% + of dieters go on to develop disordered eating
  • oh, and it sucks! 😉 
positive body image

Trigger #5: Body Focused Comments

Unsolicited comments about appearance, weight loss, or achieving a “beach body” can be incredibly disheartening and triggering. Sometimes people say things without even realizing the impact of their statements or comments. If you are catching a trend of comments happening from those you spend the most time with, it’s time to set boundaries and communicate.

Positive Body Image Solution: Politely ASK for support VS telling them “this is what you’re doing to me!” (they may get combative and defensive). 

Example: “I know you know I’ve been working hard on my fitness goals, could you support me by refraining from making such comments about people’s bodies?” 

They don’t need to agree or follow your lead, but they can support you by keeping body talk neutral and not commenting on other people’s weight. Also, leave some space for compassion for these individuals because they too are simply conditioned by today’s toxic diet culture. 

In Conclusion…

Now, before you dive headfirst into your summer of feeling better in your body, it’s also incredibly important to check in with your emotions during times of poor body image. It’s not uncommon for us to embody our thoughts, feelings and emotions in our body image. It’s not uncommon for body image to worsen during times of stress, anxiety, depression, etc. 

Ask “what else is going on?” Often we use our bodies as a scapegoat. We misattribute our negative feelings and project them onto our bodies, causing challenging body image flare ups. We do this to avoid feeling our feelings, because they’re hard and uncomfortable. Take note of your emotions when body image is tough.

Feeling good in your body and embodying these strategies take time and practice to become second nature. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your newfound perspective about food or body. 

Be patient with yourself, embrace the process, and don’t be discouraged if you stumble along the way. Each step you take towards a healthier relationship with food and body is a victory in itself.

You got this! 



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Author Shelby McDaniel

Hi! I’m Shelby and I’m a food lovin’ nutritionist but…I’m not a regular nutritionist. I’m an intuitive eating specialist, eating psychology practitioner, and Certified Mind Body Nutrition Coach, here to free you from diet culture once and for all! Because you deserve peace with food, eating, and your body. (Yes, I'm talking to YOU!)


What Is Emotional Eating?

Before we can talk about emotional eating, we’ve got to talk about that E word first, E-M-O-T-I-O-N-S. Instead of using the Webster definition of emotional eating, I’m going to use author Heidi Kopacek’s definition because I feel it’s pretty on point.

What Is An Emotion?

An emotion is an experience, thought, or belief expressed in the body. – Heidi Kopacek. 

Think about that for a moment. An emotion is an experience, thought or belief expressed in the body. How do you know when you’re having an emotion? You feel it. What do you feel your emotion with? Your body

Logic and intellect are important for navigating the outer world but they are useless for aiding our inner one. And oftentimes, it’s our inner world that tends to get the short end of the stick when it comes to listening, understanding, and responding to. 

Logic and intellect don’t do anything, for example, to establish connections with others, help with matters of the heart, soul, or cultivating vitality. 

Emotions ARE a form of logic but that of our inner experience

They have information to relay to you and therefore if you struggle with emotional eating, it’s important to understand what they are trying to say and how to best engage with them (and NOT ignore them!).

Evolution of Emotional Eating

What’s interesting is, the ability to feel emotion evolved millions of years before our ability to think! Our feelings are more of a basic part of who we are than our thoughts, yet if we are not taught how to read into this primitive, evolutionary aspect of ourselves, or taught to ignore it all together, we’re going to have some problems! 

In today’s world, the symptoms of weight, overeating, and binge eating can be common signs of feeling challenged tuning into our emotional, inner world. As with any symptoms, you don’t want to treat the symptom, you want to get to the root issue of why that symptom is even here, and in the case of emotional overeating, it involves learning more about your emotions and learning new healthy strategies to cope.

I cannot express the importance enough that having an emotional connection with food is VERY important when it comes to a healthy relationship with food. We learn as early as infancy that emotions are tied to food. Think about it…when a baby cries, what do we do? We soothe it with a bottle or mother’s milk. 

Food is part of every culture around the world. I know I feel “home” when I smell cinnamon or vanilla; I feel a sense of safety with a chicken pot pie, or a feeling of belonging and family when my sisters have a baking competition to determine who makes the best thumbprint cookies at Christmas. 

It’s ok to enjoy food, love food, think about family and food together in the same sentence. Food can and should bring us pleasure and comfort…generally speaking, but…

emotional eating

What Is Emotional Eating?

Too many of us, unfortunately, use food as a placeholder for our emotional needs, or use food to outright distract or numb ourselves from feeling our own emotions.

We live in a culture in which food has become inextricably bound up with emotion and circumstances and we find ourselves eating out of boredom, anger, happiness, loneliness, anxiety, sadness, excitement, you name it… 

That’s ultimately what emotional eating is, when we eat upon being triggered by such emotions versus eating because of biological hunger cues. And although we may get short term comfort from food, without proper care taking skills, we get stuck, and we become dependent on food for that instant feel-better fix. But, as you’ve learned, food doesn’t fix feelings and diets don’t give you the skills to learn how to tap into your emotional needs.

This is another reason why diets only serve as a band-aid. At some point you’ve got to dig your heels in, and do the inner work. 

The Psychology of Emotional Eating

When we experience emotion, specifically negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, depression, or loneliness, our brains release chemicals that make us feel good, such as dopamine and serotonin. Food can also trigger the release of these chemicals, which is why we often crave comfort foods when we’re feeling down. 

This doesn’t mean you are addicted to food, there are other activities that also produce a dopamine response. But manufactured food is just that, manufactured to give you the biggest hit of dopamine, so when the tough times come and you need dopamine, the brain will almost always yearn for that piece of chocolate cake over fun, snappy music that may not give you as much of a dopamine return.  

Emotional eating can then become a habit, as we neurologically over time associate certain emotions with certain foods. We find ourselves doing without even realizing it until that bag is empty and every crumb accounted for. For example, we may turn to ice cream when we’re feeling sad or chocolate when we’re stressed. Over time, this can lead to chronic overeating, weight gain, and unfulfilled needs. So it’s not a lack of will power thing, it’s simply your biology, kicking in to look out for you on your behalf. 

Now that we can get some of the judgment out of the way, you can make room to look at your emotional eating and find solutions that are actually beneficial for you, not to just get you through the heat of the moment, but to truly nurture your body, mind, and spirit. 

How to Improve Your Emotional Eating

Controlling emotional eating can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to help you get started:

#1 Identify Your Triggers

Pay attention to what triggers your emotional eating. Is it stress at work? Relationship problems? What is this emotion asking of me? Do I need to listen to it or am I simply being triggered due to something in my past? Merely pausing and tuning in will help decommission the intensity of that negative emotion rather than ignoring it and letting it build. Oftentimes we have the answers within us, we just need to listen. 

Once you identify your triggers, you can work on finding healthier ways to cope with these emotions. 

#2 Find Healthy Alternatives

Instead of turning to food to cope with negative emotions, find healthier alternatives. How could you meet your true needs in healthier ways? For example, you could try going for a walk, find more fulfilling ways to connect with other humans, go somewhere new, tap into an old hobby, take more breaks throughout the day for yourself. Check out this 175 Things To Do Besides Emotionally Eat download for some healthy ideas. 

Every time you do NOT turn to food to cope, you weaken that neuro association that food fixes your feelings just a little bit more. It’s a de-conditioning process that times some patience, and know you won’t always win every time, especially at first. The pull to eat can feel intense at times, but keep practicing and eventually you’ll create new healthier coping skills. 

#3 Practice Mindful Eating

When you do eat, practice mindful eating. Pay attention to the taste, texture, and smell of your food. This can help you enjoy your food more and prevent overeating. Plus, you get some practice to “just be”. Be here, not in the past, not in the future, not in the fight or flight that you may be chronically living in without realizing it. Mindful eating in itself is usually a re-learning experience, so again, be patient with yourself. For more support, check out this free mindful eating training to help you get started. 

#4 Seek Support

If emotional eating is a persistent problem, we’re here to serve as your means of support. Nobody can get through life without some sort of help, and when it comes to healing tough eating issues, it’s almost impossible to figure it all out on your own. Let us help you work through your emotions and develop healthier coping mechanisms. A great place I always recommend you start is our Diet Freedom Membership!

Time to do your work! 



Author Shelby McDaniel

Hi! I’m Shelby and I’m a food lovin’ nutritionist but…I’m not a regular nutritionist. I’m an intuitive eating specialist, eating psychology practitioner, and Certified Mind Body Nutrition Coach, here to free you from diet culture once and for all! Because you deserve peace with food, eating, and your body. (Yes, I'm talking to YOU!)