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What is intuitive eating?

If you’ve tried lots diets in the past and not gotten very far, it might be time to turn to this holistic concept instead…

So, what is intuitive eating?

For those who’ve never come across this term before, intuitive eating is basically the opposite of dieting. Instead of denying your body of certain foods, it encourages you to listen to your body’s wants and needs and feed it accordingly.

While that might sound like an invitation to eat lots of unhealthy things, the point of intuitive eating is to actually promote a healthy attitude towards food and increase body positivity; eat plenty of healthy food when you’re hungry and then stop when your body begins to feel comfortably full.

If that sounds like a tricky task, you’ll find that one of the very first steps of intuitive eating is to learn the difference between physical, biological hunger and emotional cravings which may be caused by feelings of sadness, worry or anger.1

Where did intuitive eating come from?

The term ‘intuitive eating’ first came about in 1995 in a book of the same name written by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.2

The philosophy they lay out in the book is thought to have stemmed from earlier ideas about emotional eating, as well as less conventional weight loss programs which suggested having a healthier lifestyle and practicing self-love are better for your long-term health than dieting.

What are the key principles of intuitive eating?

If you’re keen to know more about this positive eating philosophy, it’s worth getting to grips with the ten key principles of intuitive eating which are laid out in the book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works. The two brains behind the book suggest that we should:3
  1. Forgot about dieting and the toxic culture that sometimes surrounds it
  2. Respond to your body’s physical hunger as soon as it hits by feeding it with nutritious food
  3. Make peace with food and reject the idea that there are foods which you should and shouldn’t eat
  4. Challenge thoughts or opinions you might have about some foods being good or bad for you
  5. Listen to your body when it says it’s full and stop eating once you feel you’ve had enough
  6. Enjoy eating again and make meals pleasurable experiences
  7. React to your feelings without turning to food – develop healthier habits such as walking, meditating or talking to help deal with your emotions
  8. Accept your body as it is and tell yourself that you are beautiful just the way you are
  9. Exercise in a way that makes you feel energised and strong
  10. Focus on eating food which makes you feel good, but also tastes great

How could intuitive eating benefit you?

Research around intuitive eating has shown that it has had some success at improving people’s views about body image, in addition to aiding with boosting self-esteem.While it’s not necessarily a tool for weight loss, the concept may help you achieve a better BMI and assist with maintaining a healthier weight.

Overall, intuitive eating encourages you to listen to your body and its needs. It can help you build up a much healthier relationship with food and possibly improve your mental and emotional health by making you feel less self-conscious and more accepting of how you look.

Five ways to get into intuitive eating

  1. Throw away the diet books
  2. Assess your current eating habits without judgment
  3. Learn to recognise the signs of when your body is comfortably full while you’re eating
  4. Figure out if you’re eating each meal or snack because you’re physically hungry or just experiencing emotional hunger
  5. Eat when your body first starts to feel hungry rather than when you’re absolutely famished

As well as approaching food with a healthy attitude, make sure you’re exercising regularly to help maintain your weight and keep you heart pumping.

Last updated: 6 July 2020

Sources
  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/quick-guide-intuitive-eating#basics
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/quick-guide-intuitive-eating#history
  3. https://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/quick-guide-intuitive-eating#benefits
DietsFood & DrinkNutrition