What is Intuitive Eating?
Simply put, intuitive eating is an eating philosophy that emphasizes that we are all the experts of our own bodies. Seems simple enough, yet with diet culture trying to sell us endless amounts of supplements, services, and specialized diets from so called “wellness gurus”, the idea that we don’t have to rely on external guidelines to shape our eating seems radical. Rather than giving power to these external forces, intuitive eating places the power back into your hands. You are the one that knows your body, your lifestyle, and your values the best, so it would only make sense getting in tune with your own body will intuitively give you a better sense of what kind of fuel and nourishment you mind, body, and spirit need to thrive.
Who Created Intuitive Eating?
The Intuitive Eating framework was created by two California-based Registered Dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, in 1995. These two revolutionary dietitians are considered to the “Original Intuitive Eating Pros”. The creation of Intuitive Eating resulted because both Tribole and Resch had noticed that not only do traditional diets not work, but they also had the risk of resulting in eating disorders, poor mental health, and unhealthy refractory eating behaviors.
What are the Fundamental Principles of Intuitive Eating?
According to Tribole and Resch (2020), the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating Are:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Diet mentality often gives us unrealistic, distorted, and inaccurate expectations about health, weight loss, and self-esteem, not to mention additional dangerous health outcomes such as weight cycling, anxiety and depression, or disordered eating.
2. Honor your Hunger
Our body requires energy and nutrients. If we don’t nourish our bodies accurately, this can lead to a natural desire to overindulge. When we learn to honor our hunger, this helps us get more in tune with our bodies, which leads to reaching a place where we can eat to nourish our mind and body, rather than a place where our body is aiming to make up for lost calories.
3. Make Peace with Food
Learning to make peace with food aims to get rid of that debilitating guilt many of us feel around food. When we make peace with food, we cease to see food as the enemy and instead as a source of nourishment, joy, and satisfaction.
4. Challenge the Food Police
Learn to quiet those thoughts in our head that aim to make us feel guilty, shameful, lazy, or just plain “bad” for the food we eat. These thoughts only hold us back and further disconnect us from getting in tune with our bodies.
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Food is meant to be enjoyed! Food not only nourishes us, but also connects us to others, to culture, to history, and so much more. When we see all the ways food can bring joy into our lives, we free ourselves from the entrapment of counting calories, researching the latest diet, or missing out on special moments due to a fear of overconsumption.
6. Feel your Fullness
When we eat past fullness, it may be because we are out of touch with our hunger and fullness cues, we are bored, or we are aiming to soothe difficult emotions. When we can get in touch with our bodies and our minds, we are better able to listen to our natural body signals that tell us when we are full. Through taking the time to listen to our bodies, we are more likely to eat until we are comfortably full, rather than overly full.
7. Cope with your Emotions with Kindness
While food does help soothe difficult emotions, food will not address the root cause of the emotion. Once we find other ways to cope with our emotions, we are more able to choose between a wider range of coping mechanisms rather than solely relying on food.
8. Respect your Body
Our bodies do so much for us! All bodies deserve respect, dignity, and nourishment. Once we start valuing our body beyond aesthetics, we are more able to value ourselves on a deeper and more fulfilling level.
9. Movement – Feel the Difference
Once we can value our bodies beyond aesthetics, our relationship with food improves as does our relationship with exercise. Rather than miserably dragging ourselves to the gym, we can focus on moving in ways that we enjoy, that make us feel good, and that we actually WANT to do.
10. Honor your Health – Gentle Nutrition
The idea of gentle nutrition both honors health and eating in a way which makes you feel good while also honoring that one healthy meal or snack is not going to lead to life altering consequences. This is when we start to aim for consistency, balance, and nourishment, rather than perfection.
What are the Benefits of Intuitive Eating?
Benefits of Intuitive Eating May Include:
· Increased gratitude, self-worth, and body appreciation (Homan & Tylka, 2018).
· Increased positive body image (Keirns & Hawkins, 2019).
· Increased interoceptive sensitivity (Richard et al., 2019).
· Increased self-esteem and wellbeing (Linardon et al., 2021).
· Improved cholesterol levels, improved lipoprotein levels, and improved blood pressure levels (Demİrcİ, 2022)
· Decreased disordered eating behaviors (Linardon et al., 2021).
Will Intuitive Eating Help me Lose Weight:
Intuitive Eating is not a diet or a weight-loss program. While some studies have found that those who eat intuitively may have lower BMIs that those who don’t eat intuitively (Van Dyke & Drinkwater), the purpose of intuitive eating is not to lose weight, but rather to get more in touch with our minds and bodies so that we are better able to nourish both.
Is Intuitive Eating Right for Me?
How do I get Started on my Intuitive Eating Journey?
Book a free call with Sophia Khan, Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor, to learn more!
Demİrcİ, Ü. (2022, January). Intuitive Eating and The Relationship Between Intuitive Eating and Health. In International Journal of Health Administration and Education Congress (Sanitas Magisterium) (Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 1-6).
Homan KJ and Tylka TL. (2018). Development and exploration of the gratitude model of body appreciation in women. Body Image. 2018 Feb 8;25:14-22. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.01.008.
Keirns, N. G., & Hawkins, M. (2019). The relationship between intuitive eating and body image is moderated by measured body mass index. Eating behaviors, 33, 91–96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2019.04.004
Linardon, J., Tylka, T. L., & Fuller‐Tyszkiewicz, M. (2021). Intuitive eating and its psychological correlates: A meta‐analysis. International Journal of Eating Disorders.
Richard, A., Meule, A., Georgii, C., Voderholzer, U., Cuntz, U., Wilhelm, F. H., & Blechert, J. (2019). Associations between interoceptive sensitivity, intuitive eating, and body mass index in patients with anorexia nervosa and normal-weight controls. European eating disorders review : the journal of the Eating Disorders Association, 27(5), 571–577. https://doi.org/10.1002/erv.2676
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2020). Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach (4th ed.).
Van Dyke, N., & Drinkwater, E. J. (2014). Relationships between intuitive eating and health indicators: literature review. Public health nutrition, 17(8), 1757–1766. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980013002139