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A Quick Guide to Intuitive Eating


A Quick Guide to Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating is not a new concept, however, with social media it is getting more buzz than ever before. This approach was created by registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, in 1995. It is not diet focused and teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body, making you the expert of your body. This blog guides us through what intuitive eating is, the ten principles of intuitive eating, and the exciting research that has been done.

At birth, we are all intuitive eaters; babies cry, eat, stop eating, and won’t eat again until they’re hungry. As we age, we are bombarded by confusing, conflicting nutrition information and it makes food choices more difficult. These rules and restrictions we construct cause us to lose our intuition. Whether the rules are to finish our plate, not eat after a certain time, or to only eat dessert if we have “earned” it. We have somehow gotten to a point where we sway from feeling good about ourselves when we eat certain foods and guilty when we eat others. This imbalance can cause us to be hyper focused on food and our bodies, leaving us with less time to enjoy our day.

 With Intuitive Eating, there is no meal plan, no certain foods off limits, or calorie counting. Instead, it’s about putting the focus on your internal cues such as hunger, fullness/satisfaction, and moving away from external cues like food rules and restrictions. Intuitive eaters give themselves unconditional permission to eat what there appetite desires without feeling guilty. By relying on internal signals, they can trust their body to tell them when, what and how much to eat. They know when they feel like eating veggies and also when they feel like having dessert and don’t feel guilty or have any regrets with either choice. That is food freedom! No more highs and lows of “good” and “bad” eating.



The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating is made up of ten principles. Here is a quick synopsis of each.

 1. Reject the Diet Mentality. When diets “fail”, it’s not about your lack of willpower. They are not sustainable. Principle one is to stop dieting. Get rid of books and magazines that proclaim quick fix weight loss delivers lasting results. Take a second to scroll through your social media and assess if there are any accounts that leave you feeling bad about yourself or cause you to believe there is still a magic diet plan that will work. Unfollow those accounts. 

2. Honor Your Hunger. Your body needs to know and trust that it will consistently have access to food. One reason diets don’t work is if you try to ignore those feelings of hunger and don’t eat enough calories/carbohydrates, our body goes into primal mode and can trigger cravings and binges. Think about it, our body’s main goal is to keep us alive. When we work toward trusting our hunger, we begin to repair unhealthy relationships with food. You no longer have to feel out of control when you are around food.

3. Make Peace with Food. Allow all foods that make you feel good into your diet and give yourself unconditional permission to eat whatever you want. Stop dividing foods into “good” or “bad”. If there is no medical reason to stay away from a certain food, depriving yourself will eventually lead to uncontrollable cravings and overeating. Think about the food you have stayed away from in the past, when you finally “gave in” to that food, did you overeat it? This is normal, as you did not know when you’d be able to have it again. Often this overeating triggers guilt, which starts the cycle all over again: restriction –> cravings which lead to overeating –> feelings of guilt and shame. Contrary to popular belief, when we have unconditional permission to eat a food whenever we want, the “forbidden” food becomes less interesting.

4. Challenge the Food Police. Intuitive Eating describes the “food police” as the thoughts in your head that tell you it’s good to drink celery juice and it’s bad to eat dessert. These thoughts are just an extension of all the dieting rules you have heard or followed in the past. It’s impossible to view eating as a normal, pleasurable activity when the food police have hold and cause guilt when you choose a food you’re truly craving. Challenging the food police is an important step towards embracing intuitive eating.

5. Feel Your Fullness. This, of course, goes along with principle #2. We often feel we must only eat at meal times so leaving food behind can be difficult, because we may be worried we will be hungry before our next meal. We all have the ability to listen for body cues, signaling you are feeling full and satiated. Pause partway through a meal or snack and check in with your body. How does the food taste? Are you still eating to feed your hunger, or out of stress, boredom, or trying to distract?

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor. It’s possible to be physically full but not satisfied. The satisfaction factor is appreciating the taste and texture of food and the environment in which you are eating it. If you’re unsatisfied you’ll probably keep looking for that one thing that is going to make you feel satisfied and content with your meal. Not satisfying the carving often leads to overeating. When you eat what you really want, the feelings of satisfaction and pleasure you feel will help you be content. When was the last time you woke up for breakfast and asked yourself, “What do I truly want to eat?” and “What feels good in my body?” This step allows us to bring the joy and pleasure back into eating.

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food. Emotional eating is very common and nothing you should feel guilty about. Have you ever tapped into the reasons you go to food instead of something else when you’re stressed, anxious, or bored? We often eat for reasons other than physical hunger. Food is effective in the short-term for covering up unpleasant feelings and emotions, however, it is important to find ways to comfort yourself and resolve your emotions without using food.

8. Respect Your Body. We are our own worst critic in regards to our bodies. Intuitive eating is about accepting your body today. Not striving for unrealistic expectations of weight loss or a certain dress size. Respect that there is size diversity and no matter where you are, you deserve proper nourishment.

9. Exercise – Feel the Difference. It’s not about finding the workout that burns the most calories, but instead shift your focus to what types of movement feel good to you. Do you feel energized after working out? Do you sleep better? If you only use exercise as a way to lose weight or to eat more food, it’s not going to be something you will stick with for long. Movement is important as it has been shown to boost mood, strengthen the heart, and increase lean muscle mass. We need to prioritize finding a form of movement that brings us joy. That could be the difference between waking up earlier or hitting snooze.

10. Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition. How would you describe health? Be reminded that health isn’t defined as eating perfectly. Consider how certain foods make your body feel. One meal, snack or even one day of eating will not cause you to gain weight or create a health problem. It’s the consistency of what you eat over time – it’s not all or nothing.

Intuitive Eating and its Evidence-Based Studies

Over 90 research studies have been done on Intuitive Eating. They have shown that IE is linked to:

·         Higher self-esteem

·         More positive body image

·         Reduced stress

·         Optimism and well-being

·         Proactive coping skills

·         Higher metabolism

·         Higher HDL cholesterol levels

·         Lower Triglyceride levels

·         Lower rates of emotional and disordered eating

Find the intuitive eating research studies here.

Interested in learning more about Intuitive Eating?

At Lemond Nutrition, we work to help people who are frustrated with dieting, change the way they think about food and say goodbye to diets once and for all. Health is not only physical and pursuing health-mindedness does not happen overnight. Set up an initial consultation and let a registered dietitian work one-on-one with you. Give us a call today! 972-422-9180.


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