Though she exercised regularly throughout her 20s and even became a personal trainer, 39-year-old Gillian Hood-Gabrielson of Paradise, Calif., struggled with obsessive thoughts about food.

Though she exercised regularly throughout her 20s and even became a personal trainer, 39-year-old Gillian Hood-Gabrielson of Paradise, Calif., struggled with obsessive thoughts about food. At 28, she met a registered dietitian who introduced her to intuitive eating. It took time to embrace a concept so at odds with her diet-centered mentality (“It’s scary to give up the idea of dieting when that’s all you know,” she admits), but Hood-Gabrielson found that paying attention to what and why she ate enabled her to break the cycle of restricting food, bingeing, and feeling guilty—while also losing weight. “Food doesn’t taste as good as you get closer to being full,” says Hood-Gabrielson, who is now an intuitive-eating coach. “Before I eat, I ask myself,  ‘How do I want to feel when I’m done?’”  She no longer uses food as a crutch. And she exercises because it feels good, not simply to torch calories.

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