All posts by Isabel Foxen Duke

Why people keep dieting despite logic or rationality

“When I’m thin, people will take me seriously at work, look up to me, and I’ll get promoted.

“When I’m thin, everyone will think I’m cool and attractive and want to be my friend.”

“When I’m thin, everyone will want to date me, and I’ll finally find the person I’m ‘supposed’ to be with (and I’ll never have to worry about losing them).”

“When I’m thin, I’ll never feel lonely, rejected, or scared about my future—because I’ll have the friends, the family and the white picket fence.”

The fantasy that we can diet our way into safety, love, power, and acceptance—and diet our way out of judgment, powerlessness, oppression or rejectionunderlies almost all body-image or “food issues” to some degree or another, and makes dieting the true compulsion so difficult to give up.

No one tries to control their weight in a vacuum—we only try to control our weight…in an attempt to control something else entirely.

The problem is…the fantasy never meets the reality…

Most diets become binges, rebound weight gain, weight cycling, etc.; and those who are “successful” at weight suppression often suffer even more brutal physical and psychological damages on account of long-term deprivation.

Irrespective of weight, we find we’re not able to control the opinions of others…we still struggle in relationships; we still struggle with finances or career choices, or family-life challenges.

As it turns out, you can’t diet your way out of pain or uncertainty.

(God knows you’ve been trying long enough.)

At the end of the day, recovering from “feeling crazy around food” is about learning to face life’s toughest challenges head-on—rather than sit tirelessly in the delusion that you can diet your way out of them.

Binge-Eating Recovery PODCASTS

In anticipation of my upcoming Master Class (which opens for registration on September 7th!), I’m doing podcast interviews all over the place this week—

get ready…it’s basically an IFD podcast extravaganza! 

Here are some new episodes to check out on your downtime (broken up roughly by category so you can pick and choose whatever sounds interesting).

#1. “What if I’m not dieting, but still binge-eating?” 

You can listen to me answer this all-too-common question on this podcast episode with Julie Duffy Dillon. This episode is short and sweet, and covers super important core concepts in my work—including,

the difference between “emotional eating” and “binge-eating,”
how diet-mentality destroys our best efforts at binge-eating recovery,
why judging ourselves for emotional eating is a common cause of binge-eating
and ultimately, why the
don’t-binge-eat dietdoesn’t work very well.  

It’s a great episode for new and long-term listeners alike. Here’s the link to check it out.

Also—not exactly new—but if you missed this epic interview I did with Jessi Haggerty a few weeks back, make sure to check it out. We cover my *personal* story recovering from restriction and binge-eating in depth (including major turning points and “aha” moments)—a critical interview for anyone who may have missed it. Here’s the link once more.

#2. As you may know, I think we all need to just calm the fuck down about emotional eating. 

I recently shared my story with Dietitians Unplugged, including why it’s essential that we calm down about emotional eating, what it meant for me to “hit bottom” in my relationship with food, and why it took so long to turn the ship around.

Notable quotes from this interview include things like: “eating food ‘just for fuel,’ is like having sex ‘just for reproduction’….it’s unrealistic and misses the point.” Check out this interview here.

I also discuss these topics in depth with Sarah Vance on the Reclaiming You Podcast AND this amazing episode with On Air with Ella. It’s raining podcasts!

Additionally, I get the most adamant I’ve ever gotten about the critical importance of de-villainizing emotional eating in this podcast episode with Christy Harrison. We talk about everything from how negative emotional eating narratives harm recovery to why spending your life trying to avoid illness may not be a life well spent. This episode definitely covers more advanced topics and uses some more advanced language, so if you’re new—I recommend listening to my earlier episodes with Christy first and then move on to this latest episode thereafter. You can find my first and second interviews with Christy here and here.

#3. Curious about my take on “food addiction?” 

Okay, so this one isn’t new…but one of my favorite interviews I gave this year was with the HOME Podcast about the stark differences between compulsive behaviors with food (and other biological necessities) compared with chemical addictions (like drugs or alcohol). Click here to check it out.

#4. What is “Fatphobia?” Why Size-Acceptance Activism? 

Katie Dalebout was one of the first people to ever interview me on a podcast 4+ years ago. This is a reunion episode for us where we talk about everything from the history of weight-bias, to dealing with food allergies in recovery, and much, much more. Katie’s also a Master Class Alum. Click here to check it out.

On a final note, I know this list is pretty exhaustive—so don’t feel any pressure to listen to every show. Pick one or two topics that resonate with you and enjoy those episodes at whatever pace makes sense for you.

Struggling with Intuitive Eating? FAQs with Evelyn Tribole

Evelyn Tribole is one of the co-authors of the pivotal book, Intuitive Eating, and is a total science and research badass. I recently got a chance to ask her some critical questions about her work, including topics like: 

1. Common pitfalls and challenges that clients may struggle with early on in Intuitive Eating…and how to move past them.

2. The critical importance of shifting our mindset (and diet-mentality) around food, rather than simply approaching Intuitive Eating like it’s the “hunger-and-fullness diet.”

3. We do some serious myth-de-bunking on the divisive topic of “food addiction” (which I also discuss at length in this podcast), and discuss why shifting our perspective on this issue is critical to recovery.

4. We talk about the highly sensitive topic of “gentle nutrition,” and how to approach this concept safely (and sanely) in recovery, with respect for different health situations and scenarios.

5. For the history nerds out there, we’ll also discuss the historical evolution of Intuitive Eating, and how it’s shifted to include principles like Health At Every Size,  Weight Set Point Theory, and the critical need for body-image work and stigma-resistance work in ED and diet-recovery treatment.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy the track below!

(You can also find more posts about these subjects in my blog at the top of this page).

A common “intuitive eating” pitfall…

FullSizeRenderThis blog posts references “intuitive eating” — which can be loosely described as making decisions around food based on what our bodies want to eat, rather than what our minds think it should. If you’re totally unfamiliar with “intuitive eating,” here’s a basic primer on core principles. While intuitive eating in and of itself is not “the answer” to your food problem, the basics are helpful to know if you’re struggling to get off traditional dieting.

Now on to today’s topic…

The “hunger-and-fullness diet” is my cheeky way of describing the perversion of intuitive eating that women fall prey to when they attempt intuitive eating with a diet mentality— 

e.g. “I must only eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full…or else.”

Like with any other diet, if you’re following hard and fast rules — that is, if you’re “on a wagon” with food — it’s only a matter of time before you’re gonna get knocked off…even if that wagon is based on the “guidelines” of intuitive eating.

(Did my quotation marks effectively demonstrate my disdain for the term “guidelines?” The word “guideline” implies the word “should” by definition. No dif.)

What if,

instead of turning our hunger signals into boundaries by which to judge our performance with food, we simply saw our hunger signals for what they actually are: information. 

From a biological standpoint, that’s all a hunger signal is— 


When I feel a growl in my stomach, that’s simply information that my blood sugar is dropping.

When I get a yeast infection after eating too much sugar the week before, that’s just information about how my body is reacting to that sugar.

When my stomach is distended with food, that’s simply information telling me how much space is comfortably left inside.

When I eat a peanut and my face swells up like a balloon, that’s information about my probable peanut-allergy.

As a human being with free will and reign over my own body, 

I get to do with that information what I damn well want to. 

I might choose to stop when I’m full because I legitimately don’t want to feel stuffed before I go back to work…

or I might choose to keep eating the raw chocolate mousse because…yolo…it’s Sunday…I have nowhere else to be…and that mousse is f*cking worth it.

Just like feelings of fatigue are information that my body is low on sleep,

and I can choose to go to bed early so my body feels better in the morning,

OR I can stay up because my best friend is visiting from out of town and we need to finish our Friends marathon.

I am empowered to make my own choices, when all the information is in. 

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