What to Know About Intuitive Eating
Everything you ever wanted to know about eating intuitively.
Eating intuitively is all about listening to what your body wants. In order to properly eat through the intuitive mindset, you have to connect with your body and its emotions, rationality, and instinct. Many say that intuitive eating is not a “diet trend” but in fact the very opposite of that.
Table of contents
What is Intuitive Eating?
- Basic History
- How to Start
- Overall Benefits
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive eating is an eating framework or mindset that rests on the ideology of trusting your body. The principles of intuitive eating rely on forming a relationship with your body wherein you can better understand and communicate your desires and needs with yourself when it comes to food.
In order to properly eat through the intuitive mindset, you have to connect with your body and its emotions, rationality, and instinct. Many say that intuitive eating is not a “diet trend” but in fact the very opposite of that.
Indeed, part of the Intuitive Eating method is to heal from the side effects of diet culture both mentally and physically, releasing yourself from the mindset of constantly needing to lose weight or feeling as though your body isn’t “deserving” of certain foods.
The framework of Intuitive Eating was created by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, in 1995 and involves 10 key principles to guide you through the mindset. The principles are there to help you with the “physical sensations that come from your body as well to remove obstacles that arise from your mind.
Reject the Diet Mentality If you go into intuitive eating believing you will lose weight it won’t work. Lose the ideology that diet culture will help you lose weight or keep weight off. Only listen to your body from this principle, on.
Honor Your Hunger When your body asks for food, give it the energy it deserves in order to not overeat. If you reach excessive hunger states, your body no longer communicates through conscious decisions. In this principle, you learn to honor your biological signal and rebuild trust in yourself and food to fuel you.
Make Peace with Food Give yourself the permission to eat unconditionally. This means to not tell yourself that you cannot eat particular foods because your body might feel deprived and turn it into cravings or bingeing.
Challenge the Food Police Throw away the “good” and “bad” labels you have regarding how much or how little you eat. Stop monitoring unreasonable rules into your everyday eating habits.
Discover the Satisfaction Factor This means incorporating pleasure and satisfaction in your eating experience. Eating what you really want, with an intuitive mindset, pleasure can be powerful enough to help you feel satisfied and content with your meal. By allowing yourself this, you can trust your body’s signals that you have eaten “enough”.
Respect Your Fullness To honor the feeling of fullness, you have to trust your body and mind enough to give you the food you truly desire. This means listening to body signals to communicate your hunger. A helpful practice is to pause while in the middle of your meal and ask yourself “how does the food taste?” and “how hungry am I stil?l”.
Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food Food restriction can trigger a loss of control which can lead to emotional eating. Instead of restricting or bingeing, try to find kind ways to comfort, nurture, and resolve your issues or discomfort that don’t involve eating. Food cannot help fix your feelings, only distract for a short period of time.
Respect Your Body Having an expectation about your body size can be incredibly damaging. Accepting that there are aspects of your body that are purely genetic is important in your journey. This comes with respecting your body so you can feel better about who you are. Try not to be unrealistic about your body and overly critical of your shape. All bodies are deserving.
Exercise—Feel the Difference This does not mean intense, militant exercise. This means being active to reap the multifarious benefits of moving your body. Here you will shift your focus to move your body, not for the calorie-burning effect, but for the endorphins it gives you. Focusing on your feelings instead of results is what makes the real difference.
Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition Choose foods that satisfy into your taste buds AND health. This does not mean eating “perfectly” but listening to what your body wants. One meal or snack does not make you an unhealthy person-- it is how you consistently eat that reflects in your health.
How to Start
A lot of Intuitive Eating involves your mindset, so this is the perfect place to start. Writing down your conceptions of how you eat, what you believe to be healthy or unhealthy, and overall how you feel about your body, can help you map out the current mental state of your relationship with your body and food.
Remind yourself that a mindset and habits do not become natural to you overnight. You have to practice each principle for a long time before it becomes second nature.
Sometimes it might be easier to add one principle into your mindset every two weeks, practicing it daily. You can write them on a piece of paper near your mirror or door as a reminder too.
It also helps to detox your social media feeds for people that express or post about diet culture. You no longer need to be surrounded by those habits and traits society is using. Find other people who are on a similar mental path as you and incorporate them in your life, as well as your feed, to find inspiration and inclusivity.
Studies have linked intuitive eating practices to overall healthier psychological attitudes and lower BMI and weight maintenance (this does not mean weight loss). The overall major benefit has been found to be psychological health. Sometimes this equates to higher self-esteem, body image, and quality of life. Overall, intuitive eating has been shown to benefit both the mind and body. If you find yourself having a difficult relationship with food or your body image, and have mental struggles finding a way to come to peace with both, intuitive eating might be the practice for you.