Intuitive eating is an evidence-based, self-care eating framework that was created by two American dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, back in the mid-1990s.
While research shows intuitive eating results in ‘weight maintenance’, intuitive eating is not about weight loss.
How does it work?
At the heart of intuitive eating are 10 principles designed to improve your relationship with food. NSW-based dietitian and director of the Centre for Intuitive Eating, Monique Jephcote, says says these principles “are a guide in helping to reconnect with your body’s unique cues of hunger and fullness, as well as learning how to explore the many roles that food plays in life, without the shadow of diet culture.”
According to Melbourne-based dietitian and certified intuitive eating counsellor Nina Mills these principles are there for us to dip in and out of. “I don’t think of them as a checklist of items to tick off every day,” she says.
“And you don’t have to work on them in sequential order, either. It’s really about having them there as reminders, to turn inwards and to listen to your body, rather than being influenced by external noise when it comes to food.”
You can read about the principles in more detail at intuitiveeating.org, but here’s a brief overview:
1 Reject the diet mentality
Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you the false hope of losing weight quickly, easily and permanently.
2 Honour your hunger
Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates — otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat.
3 Make peace with food
Call a truce — stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat.
4 Challenge the food police
Say a loud ‘no’ to thoughts that you’re ‘good’ for eating minimal calories or you‘re ‘bad’ because you ate some chocolate cake.
5 Discover the satisfaction factor
In our compulsion to comply with diet culture, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence: the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience.
6 Feel your fullness
Observe the signs that show you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what your current hunger level is.
with your emotions with kindness Anxiety, loneliness, boredom and anger are emotions we all experience. Food won’t fix any of these feelings.
8 Respect your body
Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight wouldn’t expect to squeeze into a size six, it’s equally futile to have a similar expectation about body size. But mostly, respect your body so you can feel better about who you are.
9 Movement — feel the difference
Forget militant exercise — just get active. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie-burning effect of exercise.
10 Honour your health with gentle nutrition
Make food choices that honour your health and tastebuds while making you feel good. Remember, you don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy.
For more about intuitive eating, or if you could use some expert support, head to centreforintuitiveeating.com.au or feelgoodeating.com.au.
For more advice on eating, we recommend: Intuitive eating for beginners or What healthy eating is NOT about.