Listening to your body has always been the way to go, but it is even more so. Intuitive eating is the practice of paying attention to internal cues to know what your body wants to consume and when. Everyone’s behaviors around food and eating are influenced by several external factors, but intuitive eating teaches how to reclaim that decision-making. 

Whether recovering from an eating disorder or seeking to deepen your knowledge about having a fully intuitive relationship with food, there is much to rediscover. It’s time to reclaim the joy in eating food once more.

Photo credit: Antoni Shkraba Production

What is intuitive eating?

This consumption style ultimately is returning to a way of eating that is natural to humans. Babies eat when they want and stop when they are full, according to how their bodies feel. They don’t have any societal pressures or expectations dictating how and what they should allow into their bodies. In early stages of development, the need to eat or to stop, is entirely natural. 

Despite its growing popularity, intuitive eating has been around for quite a while. This style is an evidence-based health approach created in 1995 by two dietitians, Elyse Resche and Evelyn Tribole. The duo describes the process as a “weight-neutral” model that focuses on awareness of physical and psychological needs.

By removing barriers around food and honoring the complexity of eating, intuitive eating is a healthy way to learn what hunger, satisfaction and fullness feel like. Reconnecting with this level of gut-sensitive intuition is what many value in daily routines. 

Intuitive eating is not dieting nor is it a food plan. In this way, it is a more sustainable and self-affirming way of eating. Most understand it differs from dieting because it prompts you to listen to your body. The goal is to be in tune and listen to your own needs then nourish yourself accordingly. Some consider it to be an anti-diet. Many see intuitive eating as a gentle and healthy approach to remedying eating disorders and tricky relationships around food.

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What are the benefits?

There are many benefits to this eating lifestyle.

With intuitive eating, you can developed trust with your body. Your body knows what it needs. Over time, many have learned to ignore hunger cues; however, intuitive eating teaches how to move past that. 

Another benefit is that you will operate at a greater emotional function. Some studies cite this benefit as a side-effect of practicing intuitive eating in adult women. The psychological effects of intuitive eating are a stronger mind-body bond. 

It also increases body positivity and self-esteem. Intuitive eating minimizes the need to live by food restrictions, which will help you soar to new heights of self-love. 

An improvement in cholesterol levels is also a key health benefit of choosing to eat in alignment with your body’s needs. 

This eating style also creates a space for eating with no regrets. Eating without worry or guilt lends to rebuilding a healthy body and mind. It frees you from chronic dieting and enables you to discover creative ways to approach eating and cooking. A pro of this eating style is that over-indulgence and restrictive eating become replaced with eating from a place of genuine self-care. 

Principles to get you started

Whether you’re ready to get started on your intuitive eating journey or simply leaning into your curiosity, there are some easy principles that dictate this approach to food. Creating mantras around your food habits and developing soft space to approach food and diet is what intuitive eating is all about.

Here are the 10 principles to intuitive eating:

  • Reject the Diet Mentality
  • Honor your hunger
  • Make peace with food
  • Challenge the food police
  • Discover the satisfaction factor
  • Respect your fullness
  • Cope with your emotions with kindness
  • Respect your body
  • Joyful movement
  • Honor your health with gentle nutrition