Ask the Nutritionist: What Is Intuitive Eating?

Hey Jess, I’ve been stuck in a yo-yo diet cycle for years. I’ve come across intuitive eating and I’m curious about whether it's something worth trying to get out of this cycle?

Intuitive eating

Intuitive eating is on the rise, reshaping the way we view food, leaving diets behind for a fresh perspective on our relationship with food. It also goes beyond what's on your plate, and exercise is actively encouraged – not as a punishment for that extra cookie, but for the pure enjoyment of moving your body.

As we explore this approach, we’ll also uncover the 10 principles that guide intuitive eating.

What is intuitive eating?

First introduced in a 1995 book by experienced dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, this concept prioritises a sustainable approach to both eating and movement. The approach forgets strict food rules, providing practical tools to manage hunger and appetite. It’s a personal journey, reconnecting to your internal cues, and prioritising health over weight loss to address both physical and emotional well- being.

What are the 10 principles of intuitive eating?

Reject the diet mentality

Let go of any thoughts tied to rigid diet plans or rules, toss aside the diet books and shift your mindset away from unsustainable weight loss approaches.

Listen to your body's hunger signals

Listen to your body’s hunger signals, eat when you feel hungry. Pay attention to when you’re satisfied and stop eating.

Make peace with food

Embrace all types of food without guilt or judgement. Develop a balanced attitude and let go of the concept of ‘forbidden’ foods.

Challenge the food police

Confront the negative thoughts and internal voice that categorises foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. These rigid rules can make you feel trapped.

Feel your fullness

Tune into your body's signals of fullness, pause, and observe the signs that show you are comfortably full.

Discover the satisfaction factor

Focus on enjoying flavours and textures, and take the time to appreciate all that food has to offer.

Look for emotional support outside of food

Take note when you are using food to deal with emotions, and offer an alternative, go for a walk, call a friend, have a bath.

Respect your body

We all come in different shapes and sizes, focus on the amazing things your body can do, rather than the reflection in the mirror.

Exercise for enjoyment

Exercise for enjoyment and well-being, not just to burn calories. Consider the mental health benefits, do what makes you feel good.

Honour your health with gentle nutrition

It’s the consistency of what you eat over time that matters. Focus on progress, not perfection.

TL;DR

In the world of dieting, food choices can be joyless and burdened with guilt. Intuitive eating provides a new perspective, offering a non-diet approach that encourages individuals to rediscover the enjoyment of food.

There are 10 principles of intuitive eating, ranging from rejecting the diet mentality to exercising for enjoyment. Of course, if you have any concerns, please do seek advice from your GP or a registered dietitian.

Words: Jessica Stansfield, RNutr 

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