Intuitive Eating – Is it Right for Me?

If you are over the age of 25, you have probably already learned about fad diets, yo-yo diets, and the latest food craze for weight loss. Whether you heard Oprah tried it, read something in a magazine, or just grew up with food restrictions at a young age, it's ok! We all have taken many sips of the Kool-aid. We have all cut carbs, ditched dessert, measured portions, counted calories, or even fast. Some of you may have even developed eating disorders because of these diets. This is because we grew up in a culture where thin is in, and skinny came with a price. 

But what if we told you that was all stinking thinking and that losing weight doesn't necessarily mean you will be healthier? Isn't the end goal of any diet to feel and look your best? You can't achieve that goal by starving yourself or feeling guilty about food. Sometimes you really have to go with your gut instincts. Let me introduce “Intuitive Eating.”


Intuitive Eating – The Non-diet Diet

When a baby cries, you give them a bottle or breast. When they are full, they stop drinking. When hungry again, the baby will cry...repeat, repeat, repeat. It is their natural instinct to feel hunger, get satisfaction, and stop when their tummy feels full. They didn’t think, well, maybe I shouldn’t have another sip because my diaper would be tight. Somewhere along the lines, food restrictions paved the way to what we thought was normal, but normal is eating, feeling satisfied, then stopping. Intuitive eating follows this mentality. 


Intuitive eating, AKA food freedom, is getting a lot of hype right now. But what does it even mean? The "goal" of intuitive eating is to improve your overall health and wellness and repair your relationship with food. It's to stop striving for an unrealistic body type and learn to treat the body with respect and appreciation. It's about learning how to listen to your body to guide what and how much to eat. After all, you are the expert on your body, you are in control. Doesn’t that sound delicious?


Intuitive eating isn’t a diet. It is a way of life. It means allowing your body's innate wisdom to guide you so you can nourish it properly. Intuitive eating promotes a healthy attitude toward food and body image. Intuitive eating is not depriving yourself of something and feeling satisfaction from food. It is about enjoying food and not making it an enemy. Intuitive eating was originally designed to help chronic dieters get back in tune with their body’s needs rather than rely on food “rules” to determine what, when, and how much to eat. The ultimate goal with IE is to break free from endless cycles of chronic binging and deprivation and heal your relationship with food to feel your best from the inside and out. 


Brain Vs. Gut

You know the term, “Go with your gut?” Well, intuitive eating is just that. It is learning to remove learned stigmas, feelings, restrictions, and anything your brain is telling you about food and to start trusting your gut. Intuitive eating means taking cues from a growling stomach. It means you should eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full. It means indulging in that Snickers bar in your desk drawer because you are stuck at work and can’t take a lunch break. It means eating according to your body clock, not the typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner times.


You may be thinking if you ate whatever you wanted whenever you wanted, you would gain 1000 lbs. But that isn’t what intuitive eating is. For many people, intuitive eating is a lifestyle, not a fad diet. It's a way of cutting out the chaos created by diet culture.


For example, if you are at a restaurant and your gut says, "turkey club," but your brain chirps back, " spinach salad,” you should get that turkey club. You may eat the whole thing, you may eat half and save the other for tomorrow. With all of this said, it doesn’t mean eating chocolate cake for dinner and potato chips for dessert. If you did that, you probably wouldn’t feel too good, hence the opposite of what intuitive eating is all about. You still have to make healthy food choices, but by giving in to cravings, you will find that, in the end, your body will be satisfied with probably just a few bites of that cake. Maybe it was just your body telling you your sugar levels feel low. And a few bites of said cake will get you balanced again. By allowing this freedom, you won’t have intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, binge eating that can lead to bulimia. By satisfying your gut and taste buds, you ultimately eliminate that constant insatiable feeling and anxiety about food restrictions. It is about balance. You can still make healthy choices while giving in to a craving. Ultimately, your body will begin to adjust and tell you what it needs. Plus, you still do have to exercise. Activity and movement are essential in keeping your body healthy. Again, intuitive eating is a lifestyle that promotes all-around health for the mind and body. Sounds amazing, right?


Ready to try Intuitive Eating? Here is how to start

Before you can really begin intuitive eating, you must be willing and able to throw away all rules. You must also be able to have control at the grocery store. To eat intuitively, you will need to learn how to trust your body but to really do that, you must distinguish physical hunger and emotional hunger. IE means eating when physically hungry (growling stomach, fatigue, or irritability), not when boredom sets in, and not if your boyfriend just broke up with you. It means when you feel a twinge of hunger, you eat. Emotional eating is a whole other pint of ice cream.


We suggest trying it for a week. One whole week of saying yes, please. One whole week of not ignoring your sweet tooth. One whole week of maybe skipping breakfast because you are not hungry until noon. Once you learn how to use your internal cues of hunger and fullness, intuitive eating can improve your body image and quality of life. We also suggest reading Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch’s book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach, which made intuitive eating mainstream. In the book, they will guide you to shift your mindset, understand what your body wants and needs, and go over the principles. 

10 principles of Intuitive Eating


  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Respect your body
  3. Honor your hunger
  4. Make Peace with Food
  5. Challenge the food police
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Feel Your Fullness
  8. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
  9. Movement- feel the difference
  10. Honor Your Health


Ready for a healthier and happier life? Yes, please. Intuitive eating might be the key! It also might not. Only you know what is good for you. Just remember always to make food choices that honor your health and satisfy your taste buds. This will make you feel good, which is what life is all about. Bon Appetit!