Intuitive Eating is an evidenced-based approach to eating that was first introduced in 1995 by two dieticians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. This approach to eating focuses primarily on the individual’s relationship with food, eating, and their body. It’s a non-diet approach that encourages people to trust themselves and their bodies rather than external rules or regulations. The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating are designed to be a tool to help understand and reset the person’s relationship with food and enable them to reclaim control. Intuitive Eating is based on the concept that everyone has the internal wisdom to make food choices that are best for their health and wellbeing, if they are given the opportunity to really listen to their bodies.
Principle 1: Reject diet mentality.
This means rejecting the idea that a person has to follow a diet or special food plan to be healthy. Instead, it encourages people to establish positive relationships with food and put away any feelings of guilt associated with eating certain foods. Instead of relying on dieting to meet their health goals, they can make freedom-based health decisions that make them feel confident and ultimately, happy.
Principle 2: Honor your hunger.
This means pay attention to your physical hunger and fullness cues as the primary regulators of food intake. Individuals should always choose to eat when they are physically hungry, and keep eating until they are physically full, instead of relying on external or arbitrary rules and regulations to guide their eating habits. Intuitive Eating encourages people to be mindful of their bodies, to constantly assess where they’re at physically, instead of counting calories or tracking points, for example.
Principle 3: Make peace with food.
This means that individuals should strive to separate their emotions from food and make food choices without guilt. Eating should be seen as enjoyable and pleasurable, rather than as something to be judged or restricted. This can also help people to eat healthier and more meaningful meals.
Principle 4: Challenge the “food police.”
This involves getting rid of any “good” or “bad” food labels and individuals should learn to stop internalizing the “rules” of diet culture and challenging restrictive or oppressive beliefs regarding food. Making food choices without criticism and judgment can help people feel more comfortable and relaxed around food.
Principle 5: Discover the satisfaction factor.
Intuitive Eating emphasizes that individuals should honor cravings and feelings of deprivation. We are urged to eat foods that our bodies are asking for. If we ignore those cravings, we may feel deprived and resentful towards the foods we aren’t eating.
Principle 6: Feel that your fullness.
This means that individuals should become more attuned to their bodies’ signals that indicate that they are full, such as distention of the stomach or an overall feeling of fullness. This can help people avoid overeating and promote a better understanding of how much food the body actually needs.
Principle 7: Cope with your emotions.
This means that individuals should strive to listen to their feelings, allowing them to experience them and process them without using food as a form of distraction or comfort. Begin by discovering new ways to cope with your feelings, such as talking to a therapist, keeping a journal, engaging in more self-care activities, practicing meditation, using your support system, or working toward your goals.
Principle 8: Respect your body.
This means people should respect their bodies and resist the desire to “fix” their physical appearance. Intuitive Eating encourages people to focus on wellbeing and to treat their body better. We should also think about our bodies in kind and gentle ways, and in no way should feel ashamed of their body or its composition.
Principle 9: Embrace movement.
Intuitive Eating encourages people to move their bodies in ways that feel enjoyable and fit in with their lifestyle. This means doing physical activities that bring the individual pleasure rather than those that bring dread or exhaustion. By allowing ourselves to be led by our own personal desires and motivations, we create a healthy relationship with movement and our bodies that doesn’t involve rigorous exercise or restricting activities.
Principle 10: Honor your health with gentle nutrition
This principle empowers individuals to make a commitment to health, not perfection, by making gentle choices to nourish their bodies. This looks different for everyone and emphasizes eating a wide variety of foods that make their bodies feel energized and strong, rather than relying on external rules or restrictive diets to make decisions. Learning to trust your own inner wisdom when it comes to decisions about food can help you discover nourishing food choices that best nurture your body and spirit, regardless of what any diet or food plan dictates.
Written by Lauren Presutti