Mindful Eating Series: What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating is a self-care framework, which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought. This way of eating was created in 1995 by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It’s a personal and dynamic process that includes ten principles:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality: Intuitive Eating is an anti-diet.
2. Honor Your Hunger: Respond to your body’s early signs of hunger.
3. Make Peace with Food: Get rid of the idea that there are foods you should and shouldn’t eat.
4. Challenge the Food Police: There are no good or bad foods, and you are not good or bad for the foods you eat or don’t eat.
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor: Make your eating experience enjoyable. Sit and really taste your food.
6. Feel Your Fullness: Just like when your body tells you that you’re hungry, it tells you when you’re full.
7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness: Find ways to cope with your emotions that don’t involve food like journaling, talking to a friend, or talking a walk.
8. Respect Your Body: Instead of criticizing your body for how it doesn’t look, recognize how many amazing things our bodies do for us.
9. Movement - Feel the Difference: Move your body in ways that you enjoy.
10. Honor Your Health - Gentle Nutrition: Eat foods that you enjoy and make you feel good.
We are all naturally intuitive eaters. Just think of babies, they cry when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. There’s no schedule for when they eat and may eat more one day than the next. As we grow older, we’re introduced to diet rules. We’re told to finish our plates, whether we’re full or not. Society makes us think that certain body types are valued more than others and that changing the way we eat will make our bodies more or less valuable. When we listen to this, we lose touch of our internal cues. This can lead to a downhill slide of unwanted food behaviors like dieting, labeling foods as good and bad, restricting, binging, and obsessing about food.
There’s a common misconception that Intuitive Eating is a diet. There’s no way to “fail” at Intuitive Eating, but rather it’s a journey of discovery and connection between the needs of your mind and body. Time and time again, studies have shown that weight-loss dieting is unsustainable. Dieting and food restriction for weight loss often ends in more weight gain and the focus on weight leads to body dissatisfaction and weight stigma, which negatively affects our mental health. There are many benefits to Intuitive Eating like lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, better body image, and more satisfaction with life.
Intuitive Eating is aligned with Health at Every Size (HAES), because seeking intentional weight loss is a failed model. It creates health problems like weight stigma, weight cycling, and disordered eating. When it comes to Intuitive Eating, how you eat is just as important as what you eat.