Food connects us to other cultures, helps us celebrate life’s milestones, and nourishes our body. We spend hours of our day planning meals, cooking, and eating. With food at the center of our lives, a positive view of it promotes health and well-being, but many of us struggle with eating behaviors and weight management throughout our lifetime.
Intuitive eating is a form of mindful eating that encourages listening to your body’s signals to determine when you are hungry or full. The concept’s creators, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, called it “a self-care eating framework rooted in science and supported by clinical experience.”
What the Research Says
Since the first publication on intuitive eating was released in 1995, approximately 200 studies have been conducted to determine its effect on health, eating behaviors, and well-being. A literature review showed that practicing intuitive eating created a positive change in food habits that was linked to quantities of food consumed. Intuitive eaters also engaged less in binge eating, emotional eating, and eating when triggered by external factors and had higher levels of body satisfaction and self-esteem. Adopting mindfulness techniques such as meditation, awareness, and being present resulted in even better outcomes when paired with intuitive eating.
How to Practice
Intuitive eating promotes trusting your body through your emotions, intuition, and rational thought. It does not have strict rules, and success is not measured by the number on the scale but rather by improved health and well-being. It urges you to get away from the diet mentality and focus on being in tune with your body.
The creators wrote 10 main principles to guide intuitive eating practice, which Van Dyke and Drinkwater simplified into three:
- Eating when hungry
- Stopping eating when no longer hungry or full
- Not restricting types of food unless for medical reasons
Let go of all the judgements you have placed on your eating behaviors, including what, when, and how you eat. Forget about the labels you have given food and restrictions you have given yourself in the past. When you feel hungry, take note of how your body is telling you that you are hungry. Be present while you are eating, which could mean paying attention to the food’s smell, taste, and texture, along with being mindful of how it makes you feel. If you realize a certain eating behavior is not serving you, change how, when, or what you eat based on what is right for your body. Finally, stop eating as you start to feel satisfied. You should eat when you are hungry but not starving and stop eating when you feel full but not stuffed.