If you’re trying to lose weight but struggling to keep a particular diet, intuitive eating suggests that the problem may be with the diet itself. Intuitive eating is a way to approach food from a different perspective, and it’s been helping people change their relationship with eating and lose weight for decades.
What is intuitive eating?
The term intuitive eating was coined in 1995 by authors and nutrition experts Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. But according to Healthline contributor Kerri-Ann Jennings, the concepts at the core of intuitive eating have existed since the 1970s. Tribole describes it as a, “self-care eating framework,” as it effectively helps adherents shed the limitations of diet mentality.
What are the 10 principles of intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating pivots on 10 principles. The first of these is rejecting the diet mentality, which wholly rejects diet culture. This means recognizing that diets tend to cause people to create harmful self-expectations, which can lead to issues like eating disorders.
The second principle is honoring your hunger, which means acknowledging that feeling hungry is not a weakness but rather your body’s way of telling you it needs something. Acknowledging hunger and addressing it can help prevent urges to overeat and allows you to trust your body and yourself.
This leads to the third principle, which is making peace with food. Because of diet culture, it’s easy to form an adversarial relationship with food and put certain foods on a proverbial pedestal. Intuitive eating teaches you it’s possible to satisfy cravings for food you love without overindulging, which helps reduce feelings of guilt. This feeds into the fourth principle: disregarding the so-called food police, or those who foster these negative relationships by shaping public perception of good and bad eating habits.
The fifth principle is the discovery of the satisfaction factor, which is when you embrace that some foods can bring you feelings of joy. Essentially, if you feel mentally and emotionally satisfied, you’re more likely to be physically satisfied by less food. The sixth principle is recognizing and reacting to the signs that you’re full, which may mean stopping mid-meal to ask if you’ve eaten enough to feel fulfilled and would be better off saving what’s left for another time.
The seventh and eighth principles are about self-respect from emotional and physical perspectives, respectively. Loneliness, boredom, and stress can all trigger emotional eating, but intuitive eating asks that you recognize food is not the solution to these problems and may even exacerbate them. Respecting your body means giving yourself more slack by being less critical of your physical appearance and giving yourself grace.
The ninth principle loops in exercise by asking that you focus on how it makes you feel rather than what the intended result is. Once you realize that working out helps make you feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally, you’ll embrace it from a healthier standpoint than viewing it as a mandatory means to an end.
Finally, intuitive eating encourages you to recognize you can be healthy even when you aren’t eating perfectly. The objective should be eating well as consistently as possible and making continued progress. Focusing on perfection causes people to set unrealistic goals and expectations, which can have long-term consequences.
If intuitive eating sounds like something that would interest you, the book Intuitive Eating, 4th Edition and the website for the program are great resources for getting started. But before you undertake any significant lifestyle changes relating to nutrition, make it a point to talk to your primary healthcare provider about the challenges you may face along the way.