Intuitive Eating (IE) is a nutrition framework created by two dietitians in 1995 – its been around for some time now and there is quite a bit of research about the health benefits and positive outcomes. IE is a non-diet approach to health and wellness that guides you to tune into your body’s signals, break the cycle of dieting, and heal your relationship with food.
This framework has 10 principles:
- Reject the diet mentality
- Honor your hunger
- Make peace with food
- Challenge the food police
- Feel your fullness
- Discover the satisfaction factor
- Cope with your emotions without using food
- Respect your body
- Exercise- feel the difference
- Honor your health with gentle nutrition
Q: Is it the same as mindful eating?
These terms are often used together or interchangeably – but it is important to note the difference. Mindful eating is allowing yourself to become aware of your senses, food choices, and to recognize hunger and fullness surrounding meal times. Intuitive eating encompasses mindful eating but takes it a few steps further to include topics like respecting and accepting your body size, coping with emotions, exercise for other purposes than calorie burn, and rejecting diet culture and negative food judgement.
Q: Who would benefit from eating intuitively?
Everyone! Here’s a few examples, for anyone who…
- Is tired of dieting, or weight-cycling up and down
- Considers themself an “emotional eater”
- Would like to become better in-tune with their body cues to regulate eating
- Has a poor relationship with food – thinks of food as the enemy, food is stressful
- Wants to be a more “normal eater”
- Wants to improve their health or medical conditions without dieting
- Would benefit from focusing on other areas other than weight loss to improve their health and wellness
Q: What about IE and eating disorders?
IE is a long term goal in eating disorder recovery. However, if someone is engaging in harmful behaviors (restricting, purging, over exercising, abusing laxatives/drugs) – they are NOT attuned to their body’s physical sensations, and they are likely NOT nourished enough mentally to be able to work on some of these complex topics. If malnutrition is present (which is likely in most eating disorders) this needs to be addressed and corrected before IE work can begin. It is common to take months to years before someone with an eating disorder is able to practice IE.
Q: Can you lose weight while practicing IE?
IE is not a weight-loss program. Unfortunately, no one has a crystal ball to know what a person’s body will look like when they make peace with food and exercise. You may lose weight, stay the same weight, or gain weight. In our culture, we are programmed to believe that weight gain is the worst possible scenario in our lives, which leads to fat phobia and weight stigma (more on that later). The focus of IE is changing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors around food first rather than using the scale as a marker of progress.
Q: How do I learn more about IE?
We highly recommend reading the book!
Our dietitians at nourishED are trained in IE and can’t wait to get started with you on your food peace path. Feel free to contact us to learn more.