Updated: May 12
Intuitive eating (IE) is a term that has been gaining traction in the diet and wellness community over the past few years. But what exactly is it?
10 Principles of Intuitive Eating To Help You Lose Weight
What is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating is a food and weight loss approach that rejects the traditional diet mentality. Instead, it's an inward exploration in which you take the lead and are in control of your own body.
Rather than counting calories or following a specific set of rules, intuitive eaters listen to their bodies and allow themselves to eat what they want when they want it. Intuitive eating can be complicated for some people to wrap their heads around, especially given our society's obsession with fad diets and getting fit. Research indicates that intuitive eating leads to improved mental health and lower BMI.[*]
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10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
Here are the ten principles with examples of intuitive eating from the bestseller, Intuitive Eating:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Intuitive eating is not a diet, although it can help you with losing weight healthily. Intuitive eating eliminates the diet mentality that can lead to other issues like eating disorders, obesity, and weight gain.[*] When you focus on your health and wellness instead of weight loss, you're more likely to achieve your long-term goals. One example of rejecting the diet mentality is by ditching the all-or-nothing mindset. This means permitting yourself to eat the foods you love without feeling guilty.
2. Honor Your Hunger
Listen to your body and honor your hunger. Don't restrict yourself or deprive yourself of food choices, as this will only make you hungrier and more likely to binge later resulting in disordered eating. Instead, try to learn your body's hunger cues and eat intuitively.[*] Try this by keeping a food journal or tracking your hunger levels throughout the day.
3. Make Peace With Food
Making peace with food means accepting that all foods can fit into a healthy diet. There is no such thing as "good" or "bad" foods, and labeling foods in this way can lead to unhealthy relationships with food. For example, if you consider a food "bad," you may feel guilty and be more likely to binge after eating it. On the other hand, if you believe a food is "good," you may become fixated on it and feel deprived if you can't have it.
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4. Challenge the Food Police
The "food police" are the voices in your head that tell you what you "should" and "shouldn't" be eating that can make you gain weight. They're the ones who make you feel guilty for binge eating certain foods and often lead to restrictive dieting behaviors. Therefore, it's essential to learn how to challenge the food police. Listen to your inner wisdom instead of the diet culture around you. Please write down the thoughts the food police tell you and then challenge them. For example, "I can't believe I ate that whole pizza. I'm such a pig." Challenged with, "I'm human and allowed to make mistakes. I will forgive myself and move on."
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
The joy of conscious eating is a gift that often goes unnoticed. Eating what you want in an enjoyable setting and feeling satisfied will help you develop a healthy relationship with food. For instance, pay attention to how food makes you feel physically and emotionally, and learn to savor the experience by eating slowly.
6. Respect Your Fullness
Respect your body's signals and only eat until you are comfortably full. Don't feel obligated to clean your plate, and stop eating when you feel satisfied. Instead, pause during your meals, ask yourself how the food tastes, and notice your hunger cues.
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7. Cope With Your Emotions With Kindness
Your emotions are like the weather—they're constantly changing. One day you might feel on top of the world, and the next, you might feel like you're in a rut. Intuitive eating is about being kind to yourself, no matter how you feel. So instead of turning to food to make yourself feel better (emotional eating), practice self-care and cope with your emotions more productively.[*] For example, if you're feeling stressed, take a hot bath, read your favorite book, go for a walk outdoors, or take time to work on your psychological health.
8. Respect Your Body
The body deserves respect, regardless of size or shape. Therefore, it is essential to be realistic and accept your body's genetics to reject the diet mentality, making it easier to feel better about yourself and body image. Instead, try to see your body positively and appreciate it for taking care of you daily. Consider writing down your thought patterns about your body image and then reframing them in a more body positivity light.
9. Exercise - Enjoy the Movement
Rather than working out to burn calories, get your body moving for the pure joy of it. Intuitive eaters are likelier to stick with a fitness routine if they enjoy how it makes them feel, such as energized, rather than stressing how many calories they're burning.[*] The next time you work out, take a moment to focus on how your body feels and let go of the numbers.
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10. Honor Your Health With Gentle Nutrition
The basic philosophy behind gentle nutrition is to make choices that will support your health and make you feel mentally and physically well. With this nutritional approach, you can easily find what works for you and maintain balance. Intuitive eating is about listening to your body and giving it what it needs—for instance, eating nutrient-dense foods most of the time and allowing yourself to enjoy less nutritious foods occasionally when you want them. This way, you're not depriving yourself of anything while still meeting your nutritional needs.
Rediscover Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating is a great place to start if you're looking for a way to break free from the diet culture. By following these principles and tips, you can learn to listen to your body and find a way of mindful eating that works for you. Also, don't forget to download our printable fitness and weight loss tracker, which will help you stay on track as you make these changes.
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