Back in 2015, one of my preceptors asked me if I had ever heard of Intuitive Eating. I had not. Quite honestly, it wasn’t a message I was quite ready for. I was really deep in my disordered eating and Intuitive Eating wasn’t part of the curriculum. Simply stated, honor our hunger has become complicated, because we are conditioned to follow rules.
Intuitive eating tends to bring up a lot of feelings with folks as they move through different stages of recovery from eating disorders. In my work, I find that it is a topic that can lead to some difficult conversations around food and bodies. Intuitive eating is often misunderstood on many different levels.
10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating emphasizes listening to your body’s cues, rather than relying on external diets, rules, or restrictions. The primary principles of intuitive eating include:
- Honor Your Hunger: Intuitive eating encourages you to recognize and respond to your body’s signals of hunger. Instead of ignoring hunger, you should acknowledge it so that you can begin to rebuild trust with your body.
- Make Peace with Food: There are no “good” or “bad” foods. By removing guilt and judgment from your food choices allows you to enjoy all foods without shame or guilt.
- Rejecting the Diet Mentality: Intuitive eating starts by abandoning the diet mentality. It encourages individuals to let go of restrictive diets, counting calories, and food rules.
- Challenge the Food Police: This is about dismissing the inner critic that often labels foods as “forbidden.” It’s about becoming more curiously compassionate about food.
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor: This emphasizes finding pleasure and satisfaction in your meals. It encourages you to build meals that are both filling and satisfying.
- Feel Your Fullness: Being able to recognize your body’s signals of hunger and fullness is crucial. This doesn’t mean only eating when you’re hunger and only stopping when you’re full. This is about noticing what fullness feels like to you.
- Cope with Emotions With Kindness: Using food as a coping mechanism is not necessarily a bag thing. It can become problematic with food is your only coping mechanism. Intuitive eating encourages you to address emotional needs and stress by adding in addition coping mechanisms, such as meditation, movement, or seeking support from friends and professionals.
- Respect Your Body: Accepting and appreciating your body for what it is, regardless of its size or shape. It encourages self-compassion and body positivity.
- Movement—Feel the Difference: Movement should be about feeling good rather than as a way to compensate for what you eat.
- Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition: Lastly, while all foods are allowed, this principle suggests making choices that honor your health and well-being. This may require you to make informed choices around foods based on your budget, health conditions, religious, or culture traditions.
Intuitive eating is not a one-size-fits-all and will take time to discover what works for you. This may even change over time. This approach helps you break free from the cycle of dieting and leads to a more positive and balanced approach to nutrition and overall well-being.