This is a post to help you understand the basics of intuitive eating and give you an overview of the 10 principles of intuitive eating.
- What is Intuitive Eating?
- Intuitive Eating in Diet Culture
- What are the Benefits of Intuitive Eating?
- Where to Start with Intuitive Eating
- Intuitive Eating vs. Mindful Eating
- Does intuitive eating help with weight loss?
- The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
- In conclusion
- Nutrition Trends Educational Blog Series
- Learn more about my experience as a Dietitian
- Check out my nourishing recipes
- 💬 Comments
What is Intuitive Eating?
In short, intuitive eating is a framework that focuses on honoring your body by listening to hunger and fullness cues. It works to undo diet culture. At it's center, it aims to help you find healing and peace with your relationship with both food and your body image.
The term Intuitive Eating was coined in 1995 by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Both are Registered Dietitians and the authors of Intuitive Eating, a Revolutionary Program that Works.
In their book, Tribole and Resch make the point that “you were born an intuitive eater, but this wisdom has probably been suppressed for most of your life by diet culture.”
Many people were taught at some point in life that worth is tied to body size and shape. And that to control the way your body looks, you have to eat a certain way.
Intuitive eating works to undo that narrative.
Intuitive Eating in Diet Culture
Diet culture is everywhere. It’s been everywhere our whole lives. In social media, magazines, conversations with friends, and even pushed by some healthcare providers. There is pressure to shrink your body even if that’s not how your body looks at its healthiest.
This has not only led to body image issues, but the labeling of certain foods as "good" or "bad" and a tendency to get stuck in the cycle of following the latest diet trend.
The global weight-loss and weight-management industry market size is projected to grow to $3.336 billion by 2027.
And guess what’s driving it? The growing global obesity rate.
Seems a bit counter-intuitive. There has to be a better solution than jumping on another diet bandwagon.
What are the Benefits of Intuitive Eating?
The way I see it, there are 3 main benefits of Intuitive Eating:
1. It teaches you to listen to the wisdom of your body
- Intuitive eating is an inside job which focuses on listening to your body and becoming aware of the signals it is sending you.
- Intuitive eaters are aware of and listen to hunger and fullness cues.
- It means being in touch with the inner-wisdom of your body.
- It’s learning to trust your body when it tells you it’s hungry and honor it when it tells you it’s satisfied.
- Listening to these cues can help you eat to satisfy your hunger without feeling guilty.
- It can also help prevent you from overeating to the point of discomfort.
2. It helps you heal your relationship with food and your body image
- It’s not about weight control or weight loss.
- There is an emphasis on learning to not only accept, but to love and respect your body at its healthiest size.
- It is the idea of letting go of restrictions and diets that are centered on the desire to shrink your body.
- It encourages you to eat foods for pleasure and enjoyment as well as for nourishment.
- You will learn to listen to what your body is craving and what it needs at any given meal.
3. Helps undo the effects of diet culture
- Since it is a holistic approach to eating, it aims to undo “diet culture.”
- It is a way to improve individual health and promote sustainable changes.
- Unlike diets, it’s a fluid way of eating that can be adjusted to your life on any given day.
- It helps you to remove the idea that you have to restrict foods or constantly be on a diet to be healthy.
Plus, a 2021 review of 125 Intuitive Eating studies showed that 97 of the studies included positive impacts of intuitive eating such as:
- Improved general well being
- Positive body image
- Increased self esteem
- Lowered disordered eating rates
Where to Start with Intuitive Eating
As with all things, I believe that a mindset shift is needed to be successful. So let’s start there.
Mindset shift for Intuitive Eating
The idea of failing a diet is not failing to lose weight, or losing weight and gaining it back. The failure of dieting is the lack of acceptance that people come in all shapes and sizes. Our worth is not defined by our thinness or a number on a scale.
When we learn this, it becomes more important to eat based on our body’s hunger cues and stop eating based on our body’s satiety cues. It becomes more important to eat healthy foods because they make us feel great and give us energy and support our body rather than in an effort to create a calorie deficit.
You will be able to find freedom from deeply embedded negative thoughts about food and learn to love your body for all that it does for you.
Most importantly, you will tap back into the ability to listen to your body.
Intuitive eating is the polar opposite of dieting.Dr. Susan Albers, PsyD.
Intuitive Eating vs. Mindful Eating
If you have heard of intuitive eating, you have likely also heard of mindful eating. And you might be wondering the difference (if any) between the two.They are very closely related, but not the same thing.
Mindful eating focuses on being mindful or aware of your eating experience. This includes asking yourself questions like whether the food you are eating tastes good, how your body responds to the food you eat, and what the emotions are around the food you eat.
Intuitive eating, on the other hand, focuses on learning to listen to your body and ditch diet culture.
Both intuitive eating and mindful eating can be practiced and learned simultaneously as a part of healing your relationship with food and your body.
Does intuitive eating help with weight loss?
It depends on the person.
Intuitive eating could be a practical approach to weight control according to one study. In another 2022 study, intuitive eating was shown to reduce emotional eating in overweight or obese patients.
By definition, part of intuitive eating is learning to let go of weight stigma and diet culture. Weight loss is not the goal.
Some people who break free of the yo-yo dieting hamster wheel and restrictive eating may notice that over time they lose a bit of weight as they stop the cycle of overeating or binge eating after a phase of restriction.
Other people might gain weight when they stop restricting certain foods or entire food groups. The idea is that you are eating based on your body cues. Your body at its healthiest might not look like the ideal of thinness that you have been chasing after.Your body at its healthiest will look different than anyone else's because you are uniquely you. Part of Intuitive Eating is accepting that.
The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
Tribole and Resch’s book shares the below 10 principles of intuitive eating. Some direct quotes from their book are included below. I cover the Principles of Intuitive Eating in Part 2.
1. Reject the Diet mentality
“Throw out the false hope to lose weight quickly, easily, and permanently.”
2. Honor Your Hunger
Eat when you feel moderately hungry and don't get to the point of excessive hunger which can happen if you go "on a diet".
“Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant.”
“Only when you vow to discard dieting and replace it with a commitment to Intuitive Eating will you be released from the prison of yo-yo dieting and food obsessions”
3. Make Peace with Food
“If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and often, binging.”
4. Challenge the Food Police
The Food Police is made up of the messages society gives us about food. But even more severe is the Food Police voice that comes from our own inner thoughts and beliefs around food.
“These thoughts come from sneaky diet culture books and programs masquerading as a “lifestyle,” “detox,” “cleanse” or wellness diet, and a generalized pervasive diet mentality in society itself.”
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
“Americans have gotten so focused on the alchemy of foods- whether as an adjunct to shrinking their body or seeking health, that we have neglected a very important role that eating plays in our lives- provision of pleasure.”
6. Feel your Fullness
“Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry and observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full.”
7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
We will all experience a whole array of emotions and feelings in life. From love, excitement, and a desire to celebrate to sadness, loneliness, and boredom.
"Food won’t fix any of these feelings…food won’t solve the problem. You ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion.”
8. Respect your Body
“It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and critical of your body size or shape. All bodies deserve dignity.”
“The problem isn’t your body, it our fatphobic culture, which is everywhere, including healthcare, schools, places of worship, media, social media, grocery stores, the beauty industry, the fitness industry, family, and friends.”
9. Movement- Feel the Difference
Rather than focusing on burning calories, exercise for the joy and health benefits that come with moving your body.
10. Honor your Health- Gentle Nutrition
“Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel good….progress, not perfection, is what counts.”
You can learn more about the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating in Part 2 of this post.
Below are some great resources including books, podcasts, and dietitians to look into and follow on instagram or work with if you are interested in learning more about Intuitive Eating!
Intuitive eating is not a diet. It is learning to shed diet culture and love and respect your body at whatever size it is. There are 10 priniciples of intuitive eating that were introduced by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, dietitians and authors of the first book about intuitive eating.
The global weight-loss and weight-management industry market size is projected to grow to $405.4 billion by 2030 but yet obesity rates continue to climb.
Intuitive eating encourages a different approach. It puts importance on learning to listen to and trust your body's hunger and fullness cues and eat for pleasure.
I hope you enjoyed this article! I would love to hear from you if so. Please leave me a comment below or find me on Instagram....I LOVE knowing there’s people out there reading my articles. 🙂 IG: @mallorythedietitian
References: Intuitive Eating, 4th Edition, A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach, Intuitiveeating.org, Fast & Factors Research, Cleveland Clinic, The Professional Journal of Beat Eating Disorders, International Journal of Eating Disorders, Wikipedia, Obesity Reviews, Genius.com