The Basics of Intuitive Eating

Did you make any new year’s resolutions this January? Maybe you wanted to cut back on screen time, drink more water, or…lose a few pounds? Weight loss is one of the most commonly talked about new year’s resolutions, but year after year, so many of us are still dissatisfied with our bodies and racing to try the latest diet. 

What if there was a way to break this cycle? What if you didn’t have to see a certain number on a scale to love your body and enjoy food again? Sign us up!

What is Intuitive Eating?

Dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch recognized the connection between dieting and developing eating disorders and knew there had to be a better way. They created an approach to food and health that we now know as Intuitive Eating. This method is not another diet and serves as quite the opposite, actually. The heart of Intuitive Eating is trusting your body and learning to love yourself, just as you are. 

There are full books to learn more about every detail of intuitive eating, but today we’ll briefly touch on the primary principles so you can see if this is something you would like to explore.

Principle #1: Reject the Diet Mentality

The first step towards loving your body and moving towards food freedom is getting rid of all the noise and media that tells you that you need to be a certain way. Say goodbye to the idea of weight loss, trying out the next fad diet, and be open to a new way of thinking. Intuitive eating isn’t about getting to a certain weight or attaining a cultural beauty standard — it’s about finding satisfaction in who you are naturally and loving your body for all it does for you.

Principle #2: Honor Your Hunger

You have likely seen hunger “hacks” all across the internet — methods to try and trick your body into feeling full to cut calories. What if instead of repressing this hunger, you actually honored it as natural? Repressing your hunger can lead to overeating later.  Your body needs food to survive, so you can trust your hunger to care for yourself.

Principle #3: Make Peace with Food

If you have hunger, then you need food! Your hunger is valid, and so is your need to consume food you enjoy. You have permission to eat at all times of the day — no matter if they fit into traditional meal times or not. The more comfortable you get with honoring your hunger, the more you will be able to allow yourself to eat and enjoy as you need.

Honor your hunger with one of our many recipes!

Principle #4: Challenge the Food Police

Once you’ve given yourself freedom to honor your hunger, you may be wondering what you can eat. Making peace with food means making peace with all foods. The dieting world is constantly adding foods to a “good” or “bad” list — frankly, it’s exhausting. Restricting certain foods can make you feed deprived and can lead to overeating later on, so cut the shame, let go of the madness, and view food as just that: food!

Principle #5: Discover the Satisfaction Factor

One of our common experiences across cultures is our need to eat. When we introduce diet culture, we take away the community and connection that can come from sharing a meal together. It will take time to reconnect to your hunger, but it will also mean a connection to feeling satisfaction from food again. You’ll learn to identify what your body is craving and you will give yourself the freedom to actually enjoy it. If you find true satisfaction from what you eat, you won’t be as inclined to overeat because you will be much more in tune to your satiety cues.

Principle #6: Feel Your Fullness

Similar to satisfaction, trust that there is a time and place to feel full. You can learn to trust yourself to make decisions that are satisfying to you and stopping when you know you’ve had enough. It’s okay if this is a process — dieting can make this quite challenging. Take it one day at a time and pay attention to your hunger and fullness throughout the day the best you can. 

Principle #7: Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness

Remember that you are just a human, after all. It’s normal to feel strong emotions and it’s normal for food to become a comfort. Taking care of yourself doesn’t look like sitting in shame in times of emotional eating — it’s about pursuing ways to care for your mind and heart outside of food. The more you connect with yourself and learn other methods of coping, the less you will find yourself relying on emotional eating as your only crutch.

Principle #8: Respect Your Body

It all sounds great, until we start talking about our bodies. Intuitive Eating is not a weight loss journey. The scale doesn’t get to decide your worth anymore. To truly embrace the process is to accept that you are made differently than anyone you may compare yourself to. You are made uniquely and have specific needs different from anyone else. Respect your body by embracing its shape, honoring its hunger, and caring for its emotions.

Principle #9: Movement—Feel the Difference

Say goodbye to the latest workout craze. You get to decide how you want to move. Run, dance, roller skate, play pickleball — there’s no wrong way to move your body. Moving is no longer for making your body look a certain way. When you move in ways you truly enjoy, you are caring for both your physical and emotional heart — in a much more sustainable way!

Principle #10: Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition

Honoring your hunger and finding satisfaction isn’t about just eating chocolate bars all day either. Try a variety of foods, incorporate fruits and vegetables in ways that are enjoyable to you. Feel your fullness when it comes and know that you aren’t obligated to follow a traditional meal pattern. As time goes on, you will learn to trust yourself more and find true satisfaction from all types of food!

Putting it into practice

You may be thinking, “great, but now what?” If you’re serious about starting your intuitive eating journey, you can find a certified counselor in your area or start by working through the book to learn more. You can even start small by just acknowledging diet culture this week — look for advertisements that promote weight loss, beauty standards, or modifying your body to fit a certain cultural ideal. Simply noticing these messages can be the first step towards being empowered to take control of your mind and eating. Make a conscious effort to eliminate distractions while you eat — take time to feel the texture and enjoy the flavor of your food. You can even introduce gentle nutrition by incorporating flaxseed into your meals and snacks — even the smallest of steps can bring you closer towards living in food freedom!

For even more health and wellness tips, check our our other posts here!

**This post has not been sponsored or endorsed by Tribole, Resch, or Intuitive Eating**