What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is the way of eating that has nothing to do with diets, meal plans, discipline or self-control. It ’s about getting back to your roots and learning to trust your body again.
A lot of misconceptions surround the concept of intuitive eating. Yes, you get to eat what you want and when you want, but it’s much more moderated than that. The foundation of intuitive eating is based on listening to your body, but using your brain to make informed choices. The goal is to listen to signals about when your body needs food and to make intentional choices about what goes in. Intuitive eating aims to be non-restrictive and teaches you the tools to stray from impulsivity and guilt from previous eating habits.
These are the 10 principles of intuitive eating courtesy of Evelyn Tribole (MS, RDN, CEDRD-S) and Elyse Resch (MS, RDN, CEDRD-S, Fiaedp, FADA, FAND) aka “the Original Intuitive Eating Pros.”
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Diet culture emphasizes the mentality of “lose weight fast”, which is generally unattainable to do in a healthy manner and extremely unsustainable.
2. Honour Your Hunger
Listen to your body signals to eat when you are hungry. By ignoring these signals and being in a state of excessive hunger, all conscious eating intentions become obsolete and overeating occurs.
3. Make Peace with Food
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you restrict yourself too harshly to certain foods, it leads to intense cravings, and often, bingeing. When you “give in” to these foods it causes overwhelming guilt, which is not healthy.
4. Challenge the Food Police
It’s time to silence the voices in your head that tell you that you’re “Good” for eating a certain amount of calories or “Bad” for having dessert after dinner.
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
In order to abide by diet culture we often overlook the innate pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. Allow yourself to enjoy this experience and you’ll find that you’ll know what amount of food is “just enough.”
6. Feel Your Fullness
Listen for the body signals that say you’re comfortably full. Take pauses while eating and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what your current hunger level is.
7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
First, recognize that your internal issues affect your relationship with food. Whether you’re experiencing anxiety, stress, boredom, loneliness, etc, food is not the fix. It may be comforting for the short term, but food won’t solve the problem and may only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion.
8. Respect Your Body
Accept and appreciate your body for all it is and what it does for you. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical of your body size or shape. All bodies deserve dignity.
9. Movement— Feel the Difference
Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie-burning effect of exercise.
10. Honour Your Health—Gentle Nutrition
Make food choices that honour your health while being enjoyable. You don’t have to eat perfectly healthy every day, and it’s what you eat consistently over time that matters. Progress, not perfection.
Food is fuel for your body and should NOT be treated as something to be earned, punished for later, or as an option. Intuitive eating equips you with the tools to stray away from everything you’ve been taught in traditional diet culture and allows you to get in tune with your body and reframe eating in an unconditional light.