Intuitive eating is a 10 step process to heal your relationship with food, using principles to create trust and connection with your body.
Intuitive Eating is a nutrition philosophy about ditching diets and choosing health promoting behaviors, first created by Registered Dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Many dietitians use an Intuitive Eating approach with clients that struggle with chronic up and down dieting patterns. The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating are outlined in the Intuitive Eating book and Intuitive Eating workbook.
Here is my personal and professional version of each of the 10 principles and Steps of Intuitive Eating.
- Reject the Diet Mentality: Clients deserve to feel frustrated that many diets have promised false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Think about this: What “diet” was actually successful for you? Chances are you gave up quickly or eventually gained back even more weight when the diet was “over”. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you returned to regular eating habits. It’s not YOU- it’s the diet. And intuitive eating gives you a new way to live your life.
- Honor Your Hunger: Clients get angry at their hunger but hunger is actually a primal drive that we all have to keep our bodies fed. When you get adequate energy and carbohydrates, you are calmer around food. When you don’t eat enough, you usually end up bingeing. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food. ~ Wonder what binge eating is? Click here to read more about binge eating.
- Make Peace with Food: All foods fit in any healthy way of eating. Give yourself permission to eat food for fuel during the day. If you tell yourself that you can’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that lead to binge eating and guilt and shame around eating this food.
- Challenge the Food Police: Everyone has a “food police voice” that is a bully inside their brain, telling you unrealistic food rules that you may or may not actually believe are good for you (but you still hear them anyway!). Step up and re-learn how to challenge these thoughts so you can have more food peace in your life.
- Respect Your Fullness: Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry and observe your physical signs that you’re full. Learn to be mindful during a meal and how to pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how much more you want to eat.
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor: Food deserves to be satisfying and bring joy to your life. When you eat what you really want, you truly get satisfied and content with your food choices and how much you’re eating. If you’re unsatisfied with your food choices, you will likely just keep eating, looking for something more.
- Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food: Your feelings deserve true coping skills without using food because food won’t fix any of these feelings in the long-term. Yes it’s a great distraction! But not the true solution to your problems. You’ll ultimately have to deal with your feelings so why not do it as you heal your relationship with food?
- Respect Your Body: Most people believe they can easily change their bodies but it’s just not that simple. Respect your body right now, in the body that you are in, to learn how to feel a little bit better right now. Take care of your body and appreciate all that it does for you.
- Exercise–Feel the Difference: What movement feels food for you right now? Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise.
- Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition: Make food choices that honor your health and that also honor your food preferences and tastes. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters. Flexible meal planning is a strategy that you can use to learn what truly works for you.
It is so exciting to see the Intuitive Eating movement growing and gaining popularity. I can tell because I see more and more questions from clients and increased awareness as they decide if they want to work with a dietitian that embraced intuitive eating.
More and more people are understanding that diets don’t work, that restrictive eating is not helping and they see Intuitive Eating as a way to get past all this and make changes that stick with you long term.
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”