Content provided by the GBS Health & Wellness Team
Intuitive eating, created by registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, is a science-based approach that promotes a healthy attitude towards food, the mind, and the body. It is meant to remove the psychological distress and disordered eating behaviors that often accompany traditional diets. The principles are rooted in understanding body cues like hunger, fullness, and satisfaction to guide people towards a healthy relationship with food.
Intuitive eating is outlined by the following ten principles:
- Reject the Diet Mentality – Research shows that traditional dieting is not sustainable and often leads to unhealthy lifestyle habits. This principle encourages people to reject the culture surrounding dieting, which promotes weight loss as the ultimate form of health, extreme focus on body image, and thoughts of failure. Adopting this mindset and regaining trust in oneself will take time but will be well worth it.
- Honor Your Hunger – Hunger is a biological sign that the body needs energy. Trying to override or avoid this natural cue can result in excessive hunger and overeating. Honor your body’s signals and work towards adequately fueling and nourishing your body with food.
- Make Peace with Food – Avoid all forms of extreme deprivation and restriction. This can lead to uncontrollable cravings, overeating, and guilt. Instead, listen to your body and give it permission to eat foods that sound good and will help to feel both nourished and satisfied.
- Challenge the Food Police – Internal thoughts often label foods as “good” or “bad.” This results in an individual labeling themselves as good or bad for eating these foods. Try to challenge these internal thoughts and place value in things other than food.
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor – There is a difference between fullness and satisfaction. One can be full, but not satisfied, making it hard to feel “done” eating. An individual needs freedom to eat what they want and eat what tastes good to them to find both satisfaction and fullness in a variety of foods.
- Feel Your Fullness – Just as the body will provide hunger cues, it will also provide fullness cues. Observe and respect the signals to stop eating when comfortably full.
- Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness – Emotional eating can often feel like a good way to cope with anxiety, loneliness, anger, or other emotions. However, it is a short-term solution and will not likely solve deeper issues. Find other ways to comfort and nurture emotions properly, such as reaching out to a friend, practicing meditation, or deep breathing.
- Respect Your Body – Listen to your body and respect it for being physically and mentally strong. It can be helpful for an individual to find things to appreciate about their body and recognize that they are valuable and worthy of care, regardless of how they look.
- Movement: Feel the Difference – Focus on how exercise can help the body function and move properly, not on the calorie-burning effect. It can be helpful to shift the mindset from “having” to exercise to “wanting” to exercise by finding forms of exercise that are enjoyable. Pay attention to the positive effects of exercise such as better sleep, more energy, and a boost in mood.
- Honor Your Health: Gentle Nutrition – Work towards consistency over time, not perfection. One meal, snack, or day of eating will not suddenly make you unhealthy or nutrient deficient. Consider what foods provide nourishment, satisfaction, and energy.