How to Not Have a Weight Problem. ~ Katie Dawn Habib

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The key to not having a weight problem is not having a food problem.

The key to not having a food problem is not having a body image problem. So ultimately the real question is: How not to have a body image problem? And the answer is not (I repeat, NOT) having the perfect body, because that doesn’t exist. There isn’t one perfect body; there isn’t even my perfect body. There is just my body, and in so being my body, it is perfect.

We’ve got to love ourselves.

We need to not beat ourselves up every time we eat a “bad food” or forgo a workout.

Please don’t be someone who always wants to lose 10 pounds. I know those people. I’ve been that person. I didn’t feel extremely unhealthy or overweight, but any day that I felt extra slim was a good day and any day that I felt larger than normal was a bad day.

I always pictured myself thinner (and therefore magically happier) in the future.  In the words of Bob Newhart, I needed to “STOP IT.”

I’m being glib of course. I know that just “stopping it” isn’t easy. Not to mention that there is every manner of body dysmorphic disorder. It can manifest as wanting to lose weight, gain weight, change one particular body part or change lots of body parts. But all types of body dysmorphia share a lack of love for one’s own body.

I constantly see articles about How to Eat Like The French or How to Eat Like a Thin Girl etc. Comically, they all have different tips in lists of 10, but the reality is that the reason that all of these different categories of people (e.g. “The French”—as if we can loop an entire country into one group—or “Always Thin Girls” etc.) keep their weight healthy and consistent is that they have healthy relationships with their bodies and, subsequently, with their food.

Emotions and life stressors can certainly play a big part in cravings and eating habits, but even an emotional trauma that fuels a late night ice cream binge is compounded by the fact that the next day we feel horribly guilty about our behavior.

If instead we chalked it up to an appropriate night of wallowing without judgment we might naturally find ourselves slightly less hungry the following day or that we’ve satisfied our sweet tooth for a little while.

Yes, this concept ignores the complexities of sugar addiction and interrupted hunger/satiety signals, which can be caused by consuming things like artificial sweeteners, copious amounts of sugar and hormone pumped/chemical-laden Franken-foods.

Trust me, I learned about the chemistry of food and that stuff can mess us up. But I still stand by my statement that without our inner voices telling us how much we just screwed up or telling us that we need to change something about our bodies, our food choices become much less of an internal war.

It’s much easier to choose healthy foods when we love ourselves and therefore want to feel good and be kind to our bodies. And it is also much easier to indulge in small amounts when we really just want to taste something decadent, but don’t feel like a failure as soon as we have.

Let’s remove the idea of food choices as rewards or punishments.

Eating should be pleasurable. It should be about nourishing ourselves. Just remember that nourishment comes in many forms, including the inner dialogue that we have with ourselves. Make sure it is a positive one.

Let’s embrace the body that we have. It doesn’t matter what the size of our clothes is, just that they flatter and fit us. Let’s take pride in ourselves. We are worthy and interesting. Let’s trust that we are attractive.

I suggest that we all try a little experiment.

For those of us who fall into the category of wanting to change our bodies in some way and recognize that this has been affecting our relationship with food, for two weeks we can try letting those thought patterns go. We will release the idea that our bodies need “fixing” in some way.

Perhaps we can start every day off with a mantra to reinforce this conscious decision: I love my body for it is beautiful.  I am whole and complete exactly the way that I am. 

Then we can see what happens.

Keep a journal if you want to. I welcome you to share how it’s going in the comments section, but feel free to keep it private.

My hypothesis is that the concerns we have had about what would happen if we relinquish our firm grip and semblance of control on our food choices do not come to pass. My hope is that we may come to find a bit more balance within ourselves and more pleasure when eating. We just may end up healthier, happier versions of ourselves.

Let’s give it a shot.  Any takers?



10 (Healthy) Ways to Lose Weight (& Feel your Best).


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anonymous Dec 20, 2015 5:42pm

This is a great article; but I'm getting a kick out of the fact that the "Relephant" article at the end is "10 (Healthy) Ways to Lose Weight". So….you should love yourself the way you are, but if you don't – here are some tips to help! Lol!

anonymous Dec 19, 2015 11:13pm

One thing I might add is that French and other European women typically eat much healthier than American women. What some call the French paradox is not a paradox at all. Many overweight people are starving for real nutrition and will lose weight effortlessly when they start eating more of the right kind of food, not less! The idea that "rich" foods are fattening in European diets like full fat milk and butter is deeply uninformed from my view.

anonymous Jul 23, 2014 10:21am

I am afraid of food. I look fractured in the mirror, like a Picasso. I prefer to live on about 200-300 calories a day but i can’t. I’ve gotten really sick, lost my hair, lost teeth from too long of vomiting. I’ve abused laxatives and exercise. I can’t find a balance. I keep a journal but i obsess over what i write down and it makes me want to restrict more. I feel hopeless when it comes to food.

anonymous Mar 26, 2014 9:31pm

Thank you so much for your comment Liz! I appreciate you sharing your story and I am sure that many of us can relate. You seem to have a truly healthy and beautiful approach to your current relationship with food and your body. Keep rocking on!

anonymous Mar 16, 2014 6:45am

This has been my issue for about 30 years. I'm 37. Drilled into me since I was little that all of *that* was very important. Typically side comments, not always direct, but the message was clear. If I was looking "chubby" I was told. If I was looking "thinner" I was told, I was put on diets etc. I wasn't very overweight, I see that in my pictures now. My mom was always on a diet, never happy with herself. But my sister was naturally skinny, so that was favorable. I have lived my life in food, a pastry chef and private chef, and I now own a gluten free bakery.
I was always on a diet. Always. I'm realizing more and more how our thoughts and bodies are connected. I'm realizing that kindness towards myself has to start with me.
Just the past few weeks I noticed the scale was up a bit. Instead of jumping on a diet, I decided to start just eating nourishing foods. When hungry.
I think that's key. When I'm about to eat, I notice my body, and the hunger level. Am I emotionally eating? That's ok, just be mindful. Am I hungry? Is this food that I'm about to eat going to make me full and happy and fill my body with nutrients? Even better. Do I want a treat? Great, eat some. Consciously deciding what is going into my mouth, as opposed to guilty emotional inhaling feels very different. I'm not dieting ever again. I can't. I don't have the energy, that burst that you need to get started. I'm tired of the guilt, the obsessing, the moods dependent on a number. The path of nurturing and nourishing is mine. Thanks for this amazing article.

anonymous Mar 6, 2014 4:55pm

Thank you for your comment Dana! I really appreciate you telling your story. I'm sure that you are not alone in "unconsciously" gaining weight. I do think that is a lot of people's fear, which is why many people go the opposite way and obsess to an unhealthy degree about everything they consume. I absolutely commend you for your current efforts that are working. You have a wonderful attitude about loving yourself with each unhealthy pound leaving. Weight certainly does tend to affect all areas of our lives, and I would argue, vice versa. Which is why I suppose my only curiosity is into your habits while you were gaining the weight. Since, as you have pointed out, it is taking Superhuman effort to lose the weight, when you do get down to your happy weight, I would love to think that you are able to relax a bit. Perhaps the way to do that is to spend a bit of time investigating what was occurring during your "unconscious weight gain" time. You may have already done this, but if not I think it is worth your attention. Maybe there is a connection that you can draw that can allow you to find a happy medium in the future where maintaining your weight is easier, if still a somewhat conscious consideration.

Unfortunately, I suspect there will never be a magic bullet for all people since we are each unique individuals. Hopefully, in time we can learn how to discover what works best for each of us more efficiently. In the meantime, there is a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of companies with products to sell, so becoming active participants in our own healthcare and learning about our own bodies is very important. You seem to be doing that, so I applaud you.

anonymous Mar 2, 2014 5:28pm

I loved your article. You made some really good points. Now, to play Devil’s Advocate with my own experience.

I decided to leave my guilty food feelings behind and love me for who I am. I enjoyed food again. I, unconsciously, gained forty pounds. Suddenly I couldn’t wear my pajamas anymore. I needed new underwear. I left behind 90% of my wardrobe. I saw a picture of me on horseback that truly scared me.

My weight affects every part of my life. My health, my living, my family, my joy.

With Superhuman effort, I am taking the weight off. I am finding it easier and easier to love myself with every unhealthy pound gone.

With all of the research being done, and that has been done, where is the ‘magic bullet’?

anonymous Feb 21, 2014 9:20pm

Thank you Katie for the wonderful information. I believe having a positive self image is a step towards right direction to leading a healthy lifestyle. And surrounding with positive minded people who have the same goal or direction, in this case living healthy can help one stay focus and achieve the goals. Thank you

    anonymous Feb 25, 2014 10:34am

    You are very welcome! I completely agree!

anonymous Feb 7, 2014 10:44am

enjoy everythimg in smaller portions! think that is a great tip!

anonymous Feb 5, 2014 6:51pm

Let's see, all I have to do is learn to love my waistline, however large it happens to be, and I am fine with myself? Great!!! Ice cream in ALL the flavours, here I come. 🙂

(Or did I miss th point?)

    anonymous Feb 5, 2014 8:36pm

    lol Toby, that may be missing the point just a bit. Seeing as how our waistlines are our waistlines, we can either tell ourselves horrible things or we can be kind to ourselves. Most anecdotal evidence points to the idea that we have more success getting healthy and staying healthy when we are compassionate with ourselves. Of course, I'm sure that there are people who find success by constantly scrutinizing their bodies; I'm simply offering an alternative. I'd rather base my food choices on wanting to do right by my body instead of wanting to change my body. And then if I do have ice cream in all the flavors one night, I'd rather not spend a week feeling bad about it. But that's just me 😉

anonymous Feb 5, 2014 10:59am

Good Advice! Makes a lot of sense. l usually beat myself up after I have a dessert.

    anonymous Feb 5, 2014 8:00pm

    Thanks for your comment! I think many people can relate to feeling guilty after eating desserts. Let me know how it goes if you experiment with quieting those negative thoughts after eating sweets. 🙂

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website,, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel.  On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations.  Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired. Find Katie on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+.