What is Intuitive Eating? How Did it Originate?
Intuitive eating is a self-care eating structure that combines instinct, emotion, and rational thought. It was created in 1995 by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, whose book has hundreds of 5-star reviews on Amazon.
Intuitive eating is centered in an attempt to make the mind more able to perceive the body’s needs. It’s not a diet or a food plan; rather, intuitive eating wants to heal the poor relationship many of us have with food. The basic idea behind intuitive eating is to eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full. Sounds pretty, well, intuitive, right? But for many of us who have struggled with weight, been on and off diets, or used food as a coping mechanism for one thing or another, our relationship with food is more complicated.
Intuitive eating involves really listening to your body — to its hunger and nutritional needs, to what it’s asking from you. For a deep dive into this groundbreaking eating philosophy, we’d recommend reading Tribole’s and Resch’s books. This video also offers a helpful overview of intuitive eating:
Our brief overview will further introduce you to the ten principles of intuitive eating that look something like this:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Start by throwing all your diet books and magazines in the trash. Unfortunately, much of this “health” sphere is driven by articles and writings that offer false hope and lies to most of their readers. Get angry at diet culture — it has consistently brought you down over your years of trying to lose weight by promising results that never come.
2. Honor Your Hunger
Do not starve yourself; when you’re hungry, eat! But eat mindfully, and give your body good energy from the right foods and carbohydrates. If you feel deprived while eating intuitively, you’re missing the mark somewhere.
Plus, you may end up binge eating if you don’t eat enough. It’s definitely not satisfying post-binge to feel that you’ve worked this hard and encountered another setback. If you want to rebuild trust in yourself and food, you need to honor your body and its biological signals — especially the ones telling you to eat!
3. Make Peace with Food
If you want to stop feeling guilty every time you eat, you need to make peace with food. Food is fuel for your body; you don’t get mad at your car for needing gas, so don’t get mad at yourself for needing food! If you’re craving something, then eat it. Moderation is key here — if you’re craving junk food, have half of the serving size you usually have, and go from there.
4. Challenge the Food Police
Don’t let the thoughts in your head decide that you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of junk food. These so-called “food police” monitor the ridiculous rules that diet culture has created. The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loudspeaker frequently spews hopeless phrases and guilt-provoking words. Chasing the food police away is a critical part of intuitive eating.
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Feel what it’s like to be full from the foods you want to eat. Just for a day, try to eat everything you want (in moderation, of course!). And be sure to throw in one or two healthy foods at least as a snack before eating the next meal you have been craving for months.
6. Feel Your Fullness
While eating, pause halfway through and check in with yourself to see if you’re still hungry or not. Sometimes we mindlessly eat more than we actually can handle. Being mindful might show you that you only need half the food you eat in a day. When you do feel full, be grateful for it.
7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
Sometimes food restrictions can make us feel out of control. Instead of just restricting, try to figure out what’s really going on in your body and mind. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are all emotions we sometimes try to fix with food.
Food is not the answer to any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you temporarily. But that’s the thing: it’s just temporary. And in turn, you’re pushing your problems down even more. Let today be the day you finally face some deeper emotional issues with an abundance of self-kindness.
8. Respect Your Body
Your body is beautiful just the way it is. We did a whole post about this, which you can find here. You have to treat the person you see in the mirror with as much respect as you would a stranger. You don’t treat strangers better or worse depending on their body size or shape, so why would you treat yourself any differently?
9. Movement — Feel the Difference
Whether it’s by walking around the house, going for a run outside, or just laying on your bed and breathing, take time to really feel the movement of your body. Please don’t focus on burning calories; just focus on what it feels like to move your body. Where do you feel pain? Where do you feel comfortable? Becoming aware of these things will be invaluable to your self-care and intuitive eating journeys.
10. Honor Your Health — Gentle Nutrition
Choose foods that honor your health and nutrition. If you know that a significant portion of your current diet is junk food-based, slowly try to incorporate healthier foods into your diet. This can help your eating habits seriously improve! While one day is not enough to invoke permanent change, every small step counts. Consistency and dedication are vital to becoming healthier over time, and remember not to beat yourself up when you do slip up!
Intuitive eating has been proven to work when it comes to losing weight and becoming healthier. If you follow these ten principles, maybe it will work for you, too!
Do you have any experience with intuitive eating? What do you think about the concept (or the practice, if you’ve tried it!)? Let us know in the comments below!
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