what is intuitive eating all about?

Intuitive Eating is a non-diet approach to building a healthy relationship with food, mind, and body. 

What Is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating Nutrition book

It is an evidence-based, mind-body health approached created by two well-renown dietitians, Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch in 1995. Using 10 core principles, Intuitive Eating guides you to become more attuned to your body's natural hunger and fullness cues. It’s all about learning how to distinguish between those physical feelings of hunger (hunger pangs, nausea, headache, or difficulty concentrating – can anyone say “hangry”?!) and emotional feelings (anger, sadness, stress, anxiety, etc). In other words, Intuitive Eating is about gaining a deeper understanding of your body and responding to its internal cues.

Many of us struggle with having a healthy relationship with our bodies and food after dealing with years of dieting, as well as dealing with what culture and society tells us what it means to be “healthy” which further influences, what we put in our mouth, and how we should look and feel about ourselves. However, we are all born with a natural ability, an inner caregiver, which has the skills needed to break us free of these negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Embracing Intuitive Eating allows us to use our inner caregiver, that intuitiveness we are all born with, to give ourselves permission to honor our hunger, enjoy the food we are eating, and gain confidence in the body we are in, no matter what size.

Here is a list of those 10 Intuitive Eating Principles that are used as a guide to rebuilding a healthy relationship with food and your body:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality.
  2. Honor Your Hunger.
  3. Make Peace with Food.
  4. Challenge the Food Police.
  5. Feel Your Fullness.
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor.
  7. Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food.
  8. Respect Your Body. 
  9. Exercise – Feel the Difference.
  10. Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition.

What Intuitive Eating Is Not

Intuitive Eating is not a diet. Not a food or meal plan. No calories, points, carbs, macros, or other system to keep track of when embracing the concept of Intuitive Eating. You don’t look at foods as “good” or “bad,”, and there are no foods that are “off limits,”, therefore you aren’t left with the feeling of “falling off the wagon” when following the principles of Intuitive Eating. There is no failing at Intuitive Eating, every decision and outcome is a lesson learned. What you might typically view to be a mistake, will instead be viewed as a learning experience to carry with you on your path to use during future experiences. 

You don’t compensate for the foods you ate by restricting food later in the day, skipping meals, or exercising more. You develop freedom with food & your body so you never have to punish yourself for your choices. You open yourself up to all foods and learn to make choices based on what you and your body truly wants and enjoys. It’s not just about eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. It’s also not about “letting yourself go.” Intuitive Eating is giving yourself unconditional permission to eat with curiosity and in a non-judgmental way in order for you to learn how to make peace with food.

Intuitive Eating is not a method for weight loss or weight gain. There are no promises of managing weight with Intuitive Eating, and if you keep the idea of hoping to lose weight while following Intuitive Eating, this means you’ve fallen back into the dieting trap. Trying to change our body size inevitably harms your relationship with food by interfering with your hunger and fullness cues. This can be a difficult concept for many people to accept. However once respect and compassion for your body has been found, the focus of changing your weight and appearance is no longer a priority.

Are you ready to become an Intuitive Eater?

There is no clear answer as to how long your journey back to becoming an intuitive eater will take. Sometimes you will move back and forth within the principles. Intuitive Eating is a process that’s full of ups and downs, it’s all about progress, not perfection. I help clients break free of the rules and restrictions that come with dieting in order to find freedom and enjoyment with food.

So, if this concept is speaking to you, I encourage you to set up a free 15 minute Meet the RD session to learn how we can work together to find balance and develop long-term lifestyle habits.

Read Jenny's next blogs, "Why Do I Use Intuitive Eating?" and "Jenny's 4 Tips for Intuitive Eating!"

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