By: Madison Boissiere, Undergraduate Student in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Defining Intuitive eating
Intuitive eating is gaining traction and becoming a popular concept in the health and wellness world for its focus on unity between the mind and body and removing the strict mindset of “healthy vs. unhealthy” foods. This initiative strives to get people back in tune with their bodies and remove any obstacles that stand in the way of listening to the body’s cues. This concept was first started by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, who established ten principles as the foundation of intuitive eating:
Ten principles of intuitive eating
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honor your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Challenge the food police
- Respect your fullness
- Discover the satisfactory factor
- Honor your feelings
- Respect your body
- Movement-feel the difference
- Honor your health with gentle nutrition
Together these principles lay the basis for intuitive eating and serve as reminders to focus on what your body responds to well while dropping the mindsets that restrict certain types of food from your diet.
As babies, we have an innate quality to eat when we’re hungry and stop when we’re full while eating the foods we like and rejecting the foods we don’t. When we grow older, we tend to stray away from these simplistic ways because of our emotions, societal norms, upbringing, and culture. As teens and adults, it’s common to feel guilt over so-called “unhealthy” foods and feel pressured to only be consuming “healthy” foods. There is no guilt or shame about eating the foods we want with intuitive eating. Food fills a vital role whether it’s to fuel our body or simply to make us happy. With intuitive eating, a person can listen to their body and decide what will fill their needs at that moment. Whether it’s a bowl of veggies or a few slices of pizza, the right choice lies within what your body wants.
Benefits of intuitive eating
It is important to note that intuitive eating is a weight-inclusive or weight-neutral approach, meaning the emphasis is not on size and body weight. While weight loss can take place during intuitive eating, it is not the primary goal. Building trust with yourself and your relationship with food is the main focus of intuitive eating, and many benefits come with it. While intuitive eating is relatively new, there have been around 200 studies analyzing its impact on health. These are just a few of the benefits associated with intuitive eating:
Improved quality of life
Worrying less about food will ultimately leave room for the more important things in life. Having faith in your body and your choices will boost confidence and have you feeling your best.
Better coping mechanisms
Many people fall to emotional eating when faced with feelings of anxiety, depression, sadness, or stress. When emotional eating can be managed through intuitive eating, other strategies can be developed to cope. Intuitive eating does not happen overnight, but even recognizing that you may be emotionally eating is a step in the right direction.
Better understanding of body cues
Building trust with your body to know when you are hungry and when you are full is one of the most beneficial outcomes of intuitive eating. Thoughts like “I already ate so much today, I shouldn’t eat anymore” are no longer a part of a helpful mindset. If you are hungry, trust that your body knows best.
Being more present when eating
Taking time to tune in to your body fully will allow you to enjoy every bite of your food while being mindful of how you feel in that moment.
Opening up to new experiences
A restrictive diet limits the types of foods you are able to enjoy, but with intuitive eating comes a new appreciation for all kinds of foods. Intuitive eating opens the door for various new flavors and experiences that you may not have been aware of before.
Intuitive eating is an excellent option for those looking to free themselves of restrictive behaviors surrounding food. Using the ten principles of intuitive eating as a guide will help you reap the benefits of this lifestyle and improve your overall outlook on health and life! Make sure to check out our webinar, “Supporting Client Health Through Intuitive Eating,” for more information.
- 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating, The Original Intuitive Eating Pros, 19 Dec. 2019, www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/.
- Pike, Alyssa. The Science Behind Intuitive Eating, Food Insight, 19 June 2020, foodinsight.org/the-science-behind-intuitive-eating/.
- Rumsey RD, Alissa. “24 Intuitive Eating Benefits: Alissa Rumsey Nutrition.” 24 Benefits of Intuitive Eating, Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness, 16 Apr. 2020, alissarumsey.com/intuitive-eating/intuitive-eating-benefits/