An Overview of the Principles of Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating is a framework for eating and nourishing ourselves that is rooted in self-care and tuning into our biological cues. It was developed by two dieticians, Evylen Tribole and Elyse Resch, in the late 90s. It has recently gained a ton of popularity among nutrition professionals as seen on Instagram and in their office settings. I learned the framework after a lecture about Health at Every Size (post coming up on that topic soon) and have been diving deeper into the topic recently with my new job(s). I wanted to share a slice of what I have learned so far with an intro to the principles of intuitive eating!
The Principles of Intuitive Eating
Reject Diet Mentality
This first principle is easier said than done, but it is vital to the framework! Reject the idea that we need to control our weight and size and that the next fad diet will be the one to fix all our problems. That is a load of garbage and it's time to finally throw it out for good. You are worthy of care and nourishment just as you are and the cycle of dieting is not the answer.
Honor Your Hunger
This principle asks us to listen to our bodies and feed them with adequate food. Feeding our bodies when they send hunger signals helps us build self-trust and nourishing ourselves with enough food keeps us functioning at our best.
Make Peace with Food
Making peace with food allows us to fully nourish ourselves with any food. All foods fit in the intuitive eating framework. With this principle, we give ourselves permission to eat any and all kinds of foods that we want to. All foods have a place in our lives so nothing has power over us.
Challenge the Food Police
The "food police" are the rules that we impose on ourselves and the fake morality we assign to food choices and eating habits. We need to challenge the rules or ideas that the food police are telling us to get our freedom of choice back! Fight back against food morality rules (because food doesn't have a moral code!) and allow yourself some freedom.
Discover Satisfaction (and why it's important)
Satisfaction in food has a purpose and it is important for us to ENJOY what we are eating. Biologically, satisfaction helps us know when we have eaten enough of one kind of food (think full of dinner but hungry for dessert) but still need another kind of food to ensure we are eating a diverse diet. Food is meant to be enjoyed and appreciated and eating this way can actually help you feel more content with your food choices and eating experience.
Feel Your Fullness
In the same vein as honoring our hunger cues, we need to feel our fullness when we eat. As we learn to listen to our body's signals we can best nourish ourselves. When we feel our fullness we honor can more acuratley notice when we are comfortably full and ready to stop eating. The more we practice this the better we will get at it and the more in tune with our cues we can be. Practicing mindful eating can be a great way to feel your fullness.
Cope with Your Emotions (with kindness!)
Strong emotions are a part of life but sometimes they can be overwhelming. When we deal with our emotions in healthy ways (with plenty of kindness and healthy coping mechanisms) we can honor and support our mental wellness while protecting our healthful practices around food and eating so they remain a form of nourishment and satisfaction rather than a distraction.
Respect Your Body
Loving ourselves can sometimes feel hard but when we move towards health and care of our bodies and minds we have to do it with respect. This is what we all deserve as the bare minimum! Respecting ourselves helps us be a steward of our body and allows us to take care of our health the way we deserve to be taken care of.
Since we are taking care of ourselves, food-wise, with respect we also need to take that approach to movement. Exercise can be many things - joyful, social, celebratory, powerful, etc - but punishment is not one of them. Dr. Shawn Talbott says that "the best exercise is the one you will do". So choose exercises that you enjoy as your choice of movement and feel the difference.
Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition
Gentle nutrition teaches us to choose foods with health and enjoyment in mind. Take a birds-eye view of your diet patterns to take the pressure off of each individual bite of food. This helps leave room for a gentle plan of nutrition that helps you reach your long-term health goals.
The principles of intuitive eating can help us find a gentle way to approach nutrition and health goals. Here is to learning to tune into hunger and fullness cues, creating a flexible and nourishing diet pattern, challenging external and internal rules rooted in diet culture, and embracing joyful movement!
What principle of intuitive eating speaks to you most right now?
What do you want to know more about?
Look out for new blog posts coming up where we will talk about the gut microbiome and food choices and an overview of Health at Every Size.