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What Is ‘Intuitive Eating’ & Why Is Everyone Talking About It Right Now?

January 24, 2022

Intuitive eating has revolutionized the way many people think about food and eating.

Compared to traditional eating, it doesn’t impose strict guidelines which often makes people anxious around food and restrictive with their hunger or cravings.

The ‘What,’ ‘When,’ ‘Where,’ and ‘How’ of eating are also much more of a personal preference, which teaches us to listen to our own body. Besides, it is called our “own” for a reason and nobody knows our body more than we do.

It doesn’t only help with our relationship with food and our body, but it also cultivates self-awareness. It taps into your natural ability to know when you are hungry or satisfied.

So, what’s this buzz on intuitive eating all about? Let’s get into the meat of this article by starting with the basics.



What is intuitive eating all about?


Today’s diet culture has swamped us with so many ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of eating. But in extreme obedience to these rules, it seems like these health instructions are doing more harm than good.


Intuitive eating, on the other hand, is a whole new way of eating that promotes a healthy attitude towards food and your body.


This eating style shatters the notion that there are “good” and “bad” food. You eat what feels right for you and you eat when your body is telling you to.


However, this doesn’t mean that you can eat whatever you want and whenever you want.


The idea is simple: eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. To eat intuitively, just listen to your body and trust your intuition.


But to do that, you shouldn’t mix these two: physical and emotional hunger.


  • Physical hunger – the biological drive that tells you to feed and replenish your body with nutrients. It builds progressively and sends signals like a growling stomach, lack of energy, irritability and weakness.


  • Emotional hunger – the urge to eat that comes sudden or abruptly to fill the void of an unmet emotional need like sadness, boredom or stress. You crave only certain foods and you feel guilt and shame after eating.


Intuitive eating is based on physical hunger. It is being responsive and honoring our bodies’ biological cues when it needs nourishment from food.



A Short History


Intuitive eating was developed and coined in 1995 by two California-based nutritionists, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, in their book Intuitive Dieting: A Revolutionary Program That Works.


The program was built in response to several indications that conventional diet programs are not working.


The originators explained that dieting only creates backlash that leads to eating disorders, unhealthy behaviors and poor self image.


As humans, we are born with the innate wisdom to know when we are hungry or satisfied and we possess the ability to regulate our eating habits in a healthy manner.


Due to parental control in eating habits and social pressure in childhood, this innate dietary wisdom was obscured. The proponents of intuitive eating believed that adults can take back this wisdom and learn to regulate their own eating habits again by shunning dieting and improving their self image instead.




10 Key Principles of Eating Intuitively


In their book Intuitive Dieting: A Revolutionary Program That Works, authors Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch outlined 10 basic principles of intuitive eating.


  1. Reject the diet mentality.

Most diet programs promote weight loss or gain. But the goal of eating should be to nourish our body and not to look in a certain way. Intuitive eating is an anti-diet approach. Neither a diet book nor a magazine should tell you what, when or how to eat.


  1. Honour your hunger.

Do not fight hunger. It is not your enemy. In fact, it is a messenger that tells you what your body needs. You are supposed to feel hunger and respond to it intentionally.


  1. Make peace with food.

If you constantly tell yourself what food you should only eat and what you shouldn’t, it will only lead to feelings of deprivation and will intensify your cravings.

Give yourself permission to eat and give in to your cravings.


  1. Challenge the food police.

Again, no one knows your body more than you do. Your body, your food choices.


  1. Respect your fullness.

Your body will not only tell you when it’s hungry, it will also make signals when it is satisfied. Observe signs of fullness and obey and pause in the middle of eating to ask yourself if you feel you have had enough.


  1. Discover the satisfaction factor.

There is pleasure and satisfaction in eating. Eat what you really want in an inviting environment and this pleasurable experience will help you feel satisfied.


  1. Cope with your emotions without using food.


Stress eating is an easy choice to relieve stress or sadness but it won’t really ease your emotional needs. Work on your resiliency instead of running to comfort food for a quick fix.


  1. Respect your body.

All bodies are beautiful regardless of size and shape. Reject the idea that it is supposed to look a certain way to deserve love and care.


  1. Workout.

It doesn’t have to be a rigid workout. Focus on the movement of your body and how it is making you feel instead of watching the calories you burn.


  1. Take charge of your health.


You rely on your health for nearly all things you do. Make food choices that satisfy both your health and taste buds.


One of the best things about intuitive eating is that it also benefits your psychological health. Aside from teaching you to nourish your body according to your own unique needs, it also helps you with your self-esteem, body image and self-awareness.

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