Intuitive eating

Intuitive eating

It is a philosophy of eating that makes you the expert of your body and its hunger signals.

Essentially, it’s the opposite of a traditional diet. It doesn’t impose guidelines about what to avoid and what or when to eat.

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To eat intuitively, you may need to relearn how to trust your body. Distinguish between physical and emotional hunger:

  • Physical hunger. This biological urge tells you to replenish nutrients. It builds gradually and has different signals, such as a growling stomach, fatigue, or irritability. 
  • Emotional hunger. This is driven by emotional need. Sadness, loneliness, and boredom are some of the feelings that can create cravings for food, often comfort foods. 

Some of the concepts of intuitive eating have been around at least since the early 1970s, though the term wasn’t coined until 1995.

The program was built on the principle that diets don’t work and that lifestyle changes and personal care are more important for long-term health.

Key principles
  • Reject the diet mentality. The diet mentality is the idea that there’s a diet out there that will work for you.
  • Respond to your early signs of hunger by feeding your body.
  • is not good or bad and you are not good or bad for what you eat or don’t eat.
  • Respect your fullness. Just as your body tells you when it’s hungry, it also tells you when it’s full.
  • Discover the satisfaction factor. When you make eating a pleasurable experience, you may find it takes less food to satisfy you.
  • Honor your feelings without using food. Find ways that are unrelated to food to deal with your feelings.
  • Respect your body, rather than criticizing your body.
  • Exercise — feel the difference
  • Honor your health — gentle nutrition. One meal or snack isn’t going to make or break your health.
Research-based benefits

Emerging research suggests that intuitive eating is linked to healthier attitudes toward food and self-image, as well as that it can be learned through interventions.

Without judgment, start taking stock of your own eating behaviors and attitudes. When you eat, ask yourself if you’re experiencing physical or emotional hunger.

If it’s physical hunger, try to rank your hunger/fullness level on a scale of 1–10, from to stuffed. Aim to eat when you’re hungry but not starving. Stop when you’re comfortably full — not stuffed.

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RELATED IDEAS

Intuitive eating

This is not a diet. Intuitive eating is an approach to health and food that emphasizes learning to give your body what it needs.

It doesn't involve rules related to how or what to eat, but it's based on a few principles.

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IDEAS

With mindful eating, there is no explicit rejection of dieting. 

Intuitive eating rejects the diet mentality altogether—that’s the biggest difference.

Intuitive eating and weight fluctuation

Intuitive eating does not guarantee weight loss. 

Dietitians who work with intuitive eating often talk about the “set point” – the range (sometimes as wide as 10-20 lbs) of weight that your body naturally leans toward over time, whatever you do. Research into this theory is ongoing. 

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