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What is Intuitive Eating?

Ah, you mean the best approach to eating? I am bias but honestly, I’ve gone through my fair share of different approaches to improve my health/nutrition and this one, well it’s for the long term and ease of mind. This approach won’t leave you feeling guilty, deprived or unsatisfied. Intuitive eating was created by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in the 90s. They are Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitians (CEDRD) and pioneers to this life transforming approach to eating.

Intuitive Eating is like tapping into your inner child when there weren’t any diet rules or diet foods around. You were able to listen to your body because there wasn’t all those distractions and diet dialogue in your mind. There are 10 different principles to Intuitive Eating:

1. Ditch the Diet Mentality

Our culture is swimming in the diet mentality. Try this new diet, don’t eat carbs, don’t eat past 7 pm etc. all to shrink your body. When ditching the diet mentality, we have to get out of the mindset that smaller = healthier. That just isn’t the case and there are plenty of studies to show that. There is so much freedom in your mind and behaviors by ditching the diet mentality.

2. Honor your Hunger

Your body is great at letting you know when you need food - it was designed to do that! However, when you add dieting into the mix, it gets a little bit more challenging to listen and honor your hunger cues. It may take some time to get familiar with what it feels like but the more you honor them, the easier it will be.

3. Make Peace with Food

A big chunk of making peace with food is giving yourself full permission to eat ALL foods. Say what?! I know, I know. This can seem pretty scary when you’ve been dieting for a while but it can also be satisfying and freeing. Think of how many foods you can add to your life when you do this. And no, you won’t want to eat chips, cookies, pizza forever - the more you give yourself full permission to those foods, the less you will desire them or less “power” they have over you. Trust the process with this one!

4. Challenge the Food Police

You may have heard of the food police before. Whether it’s the voice of a parent, an aunt, sibling or even you. Actually, mainly you! The rules you created in your head were created by external influences. Your food police could say things like “Don’t eat that, it has too much fat” or “I was so bad for eating that piece of cake”. All those circling thoughts keep you from fully enjoying the food. It’s important to get to the root of the problem, ask yourself, “when or how did these food thoughts arise?”

5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

As Evelyn and Elyse put it, this is the hub or center of Intuitive Eating - feeling satisfied with food. When you are satisfied, you won’t keep searching for more! Dieting strips that satisfaction away by forcing diet rules like no fat with meals or you have to eat a diet product that tastes like cardboard. You will find that you are not searching for more when you enjoy foods that are satisfying

6. Feel your Fullness

Have you ever seen a toddler push his/her plate away when they were eating? They said they were full so they stopped eating? If they didn’t have any distractors like playing games or with toys then they were respecting their fullness. Again, dieting gets in the way of this because dieting is restrictive and when you restrict, you will most likely binge. Intuitive Eating focuses on respecting your fullness but it’s important to be aware that you might eat past fullness some times and that is okay!

7. Cope with feelings without foods

Dieting makes you more vulnerable to emotionally eat. No, there wasn’t something that was wrong with you. You used food to cope during challenging experiences and that is okay. But with Intuitive Eating you will find other ways to cope with your emotions instead of relying on food so much.

8. Respect your body

Respecting your body can look different for everyone. If you’re in a place where you “hate” your body, it can be hard to look at your body in a positive way. However, respecting your body is something that you can do regardless of how it looks. It is about accepting your genetic blueprint and recognizing that all bodies, regardless of shape or size deserve respect.

9. Movement - feel the difference

You don’t need to exercise every single day for 45 minutes everyday to be considered healthy. Forget the strict structure and how many calories you burn while exercise and move your body in a way that feels good to you!

10. Gentle Nutrition

Diet culture is all about black and white thinking, like being a “perfect” eater. Well, that’s something to let go of. Nutrition is about finding nourishing foods that are satisfying too. You will not become nutrient deficient if you don’t have vegetables for 2 days. Your body needs a variety of different foods that are both nourishing and satisfying - and remember, it is what you do over the long term that matters!

Those are the amazing 10 principles of Intuitive Eating! Depending on how long you’ve dieted for, it may take time and support to help you to become an Intuitive Eater. It will challenge your beliefs but it is so freeing and rewarding once you are on the other side - away from diet culture!

If you want more support, check out my programs to learn more!

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