We are all born natural intuitive eaters. Babies cry, they eat, and then stop eating until they’re hungry again. Kids innately balance out their food intake from week to week, eating when they’re hungry and stopping once they feel full. Some days they may eat a ton of food, and other days they may eat barely anything. As we grow older and rules and restrictions are set around food, we lose our inner intuitive eater. We learn to finish everything on our plate. We learn that dessert is a reward, or can be taken away if we misbehave. We are told that certain foods are good for us and others are bad – causing us to feel good about ourselves when we eat certain foods and guilty when we eat others. Intuitive Eating is not a diet. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. There’s no counting calories or macros and not making certain foods off limits. It’s not about following a meal plan or measuring out your portions (in fact, that is all discouraged!). Instead, it’s about re-learning to eat outside of the diet mentality, putting the focus on your internal cues (aka your intuition) like hunger, fullness and satisfaction, and moving away from external cues like food rules and restrictions.
But intuitive eating is not the ‘hunger-fullness diet’. Intuitive eaters give themselves unconditional permission to eat whatever they want without feeling guilty. They rely on their internal hunger and satiety signals and trust their body to tell them when, what and how much to eat. They know when they want to at eat veggies and also when they feel like having dessert (and don’t feel guilty or have any regrets with either choice)..
The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
2. Honor Your Hunger
3. Make Peace with Food
4. Challenge the Food Police
5. Feel Your Fullness
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
7. Cope With Your Emotions Without Using Food
8. Respect Your Body
9. Exercise – Feel The Difference
10. Honor Your Health With Gentle Nutrition
What’s the Difference Between Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating?
Before I started training in Intuitive Eating, I used the terms Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating interchangeably. While this isn’t totally incorrect, it’s important to note the differences.
The Center for Mindful Eating defines mindful eating as “allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom” and “using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body and becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.”
You can tell right there that Intuitive Eating encompasses the principles of mindful eating. However it goes a step further, also addressing the importance of rejecting the dieting mentality, respecting your body (regardless of your weight or shape), coping with emotional eating, and gentle movement and nutrition without judgment. Both mindful eating and Intuitive Eating can be useful tools to help you reach a place of normal eating.