March 2021 What is Intuitive Eating? And What it’s Not!
A collaboration between Alyssa Leib and KRNC staff
Do you understand your body’s signals for when it’s hungry, full, and satisfied? Or when it needs movement and rest? Imagine a life where you are guided by these signals—your body’s internal wisdom—and you respond by eating and moving in ways that feel good. Where self-care is full of non-judgmental self-compassion and free from dieting and rules. It’s not “too good to be true”, meet Intuitive Eating—a framework that can help you discover body trust and food freedom!
What is Intuitive Eating?
Developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, Intuitive Eating is an evidence-based approach to pursue health and well-being. It encourages a practice to develop trust with your body, which in turn can heal your relationship with food, mind, and body. This approach takes the focus off of weight and instead promotes a safe space to explore and honor physical and mental health without the scale. Intuitive Eating has been the focus of research and the results are promising. It has been found to:
- Foster body appreciation
- Improve life satisfaction
- Increase motivation for movement
- Increase intake of nutritious foods
- Improve overall health, including decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol
- Decrease loss-of-control eating and binge eating
Why Choose Intuitive Eating?
If you’ve ever been on a weight loss or “wellness” diet, you might be familiar with the effects of rigid rules and restriction and maybe you’ve experienced the on-and-off-again cycle of dieting. Likely, there is some guilt and shame surrounding eating that has stuck around. For many, this cycle leads to mistrusting the body and a worse body image. Different diets come with different rules, which produces a lot of confusion and conflict surrounding what to eat and what to avoid. Exercise may feel like something you have to do instead of something you choose to do and enjoy doing. Intuitive Eating offers a way to ditch the diets, the diet cycle, and the shame, and find an authentic way of honoring health. By practicing Intuitive Eating, you can feel empowered to be the expert of your own body.
How Does Intuitive Eating Work?
Intuitive Eating is a practice, not a destination! It is based on 10 principles that guide you to body trust by moving you away from dieting, restriction, and rigid rules.
The Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating:
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honor your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Challenge the food police
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Feel your fullness
- Cope with your emotions with kindness
- Respect your body
- Movement – Feel the difference
- Honor your health – Gentle nutrition
Common Myths About Intuitive Eating
“Intuitive Eating is just a hunger/fullness diet.” Intuitive Eating does work through listening to hunger and fullness cues, but there is so much more to it! Unlike dieting, there’s no “right or wrong”, “black or white”, “on or off” with Intuitive Eating. It is about approaching hunger and fullness with curiosity instead of judgement. Intuitive Eating teaches you how to learn from situations where you get too hungry or eat beyond fullness and how to move on with your life without guilt or shame. Intuitive Eating also embraces practical eating, for example, where you may need to eat before you are hungry to accommodate busy schedules.
“Intuitive Eating is a non-dieting weight loss approach.” Weight loss is not the goal or focus of Intuitive Eating. It is a weight-neutral framework, which means it promotes physical and mental well-being regardless of body size. There are no weight promises or expectations when you are eating intuitively and it’s important to remain open-minded to your body’s actual natural healthy weight.
“If I get to eat intuitively, I’ll just eat ice cream all the time.” Intuitive Eating promotes finding a way of eating that makes you feel your best, honors your health, and yes, gives you unconditional permission to eat what feels good. Initially in your journey, you may eat a lot of the foods you previously restricted. Over time, these once “forbidden foods” will feel normalized and become a part of your eating pattern however feels best for you.
How to Get Started
There are many ways to start applying the Intuitive Eating principles to your life. Go about this at a pace that fits you. You may decide to take on 1 or 2 new principles at a time. These principles work together and do not need to be practiced in order. The most successful Intuitive Eaters don’t focus on reaching an end-point, rather, they practice the philosophies and learn new things about what works and doesn’t work for their body.
Take steps to learn more about Intuitive Eating:
- Schedule an appointment with a KRNC Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
- Read the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
- Explore the Intuitive Eating Workbook
- Browse more blog posts and articles at intuitiveeating.org
Get to know our author:
Leib is a second year grad student, majoring in Community Nutrition. After graduation, she hopes to work in a community setting to provide nutrition education and counseling to people from marginalized communities to both reduce food insecurity and empower them to improve their health. Her research aims to evaluate the screen time and physical activity patterns of preschoolers in rural Eastern Colorado as they relate to the home environment, including the physical environment and parenting practices. Leib is also an advocate for breaking the stigma surrounding eating disorders and disordered eating among the outdoors community, specifically among rock climbers and trail runners, and hopes to use her Registered Dietitian credentials in the future to educate these groups and raise awareness. Some fun facts about Leib: she is proficient in Spanish and briefly lived in Argentina.
For additional resources to healthy eating, check out these programs from our registered dietitian nutritionists. More health tips are also available at the College of Health and Human Sciences Pinterest board. Find delicious and healthy recipes on our Recipes page! Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for the KRNC monthly newsletter!