Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to listen to your own body when making decisions about food. Intuitive Eating Principles: A Guide to the 10 Principles is very much an inside job, you learn how to look inwardly to use your own innate body wisdom and begin to distinguish between your physical and emotional feelings of hunger and satisfaction. It’s a self-care eating framework. As simple as this approach may seem, it takes a lot of practice and letting go of years of conditioning learned from dieting and today’s society.
Intuitive Eating Principles: A Guide to the 10 Principles
There are some basic principles that you want to keep in mind when approaching intuitive eating. Below is a list of the top 10 principles of intuitive eating to get you started.
When we are intuned with our bodies we can better show up for our needs and yes this means food but this model doesn’t only benefit your relationship with food. It affects your relationship with your whole self.
Is Intuitive Eating For you?
When we begin to listen to our body and give it what it wants, we begin to transform our relationship with food and our body. We start to cultivate body trust and are able to better determine when we are actually hungry for food vs. hungry for distraction or looking to fill a void in ourselves.
Intuitive Eating is for you if you struggle with:
- Emotional eating
- Food restricting
- Overeating/Binge eating
- Compulsive eating
- Body image issues
- Weight loss/ cycling
- Disordered Eating
Mindful Eating vs. Intuitive Eating
Mindful eating and intuitive eating are very similar. For someone who is already practicing mindfulness or mindful eating, intuitive eating will complement that practice so well.
The biggest difference between mindful eating and intuitive eating is that mindful eating doesn’t talk about diet culture. You can be mindfully eating but still engaging in dieting because you haven’t created enough awareness about how diet culture has infiltrated your life.
Mindful eating is a skill set of slowing down, being present, and eating without distraction. Intuitive eating is very compatible with that but has added layers of being with your body, aiming for satisfaction and rejecting the diet mentality.
The 10 basic principles of Intuitive Eating
Intuitive Eating Principle #1
Reject the Diet Mentality. This is easier said than done because diet culture is everywhere. Understanding where it shows up in your life and how you can ditch it for good is the first step to rejecting a diet mentality.
This principle is all about letting go of the idea that there is a “quick fix” or diet out there that will solve all of your problems. Realize the lies that are spread by the diet industry and the millions of dollars that they are making. Research has shown that 95% of them fail. Stop feeling like a failure for not being able to stick to a diet or losing weight only to gain it back shortly after. Know that diets do not work and refuse to accept that they are a societal norm.
It’s not you that’s broken it’s the system that is. And when you learn to listen to your body you avoid systems like diet culture that keep you stuck.
Intuitive Eating Principle #2
Honor Your Hunger. Being aware of your bodily sensation is a practice both mindful eating & intuitive eating asks us to do. Become familiar with the physical feeling of hunger and practice feeding yourself at the onset of hunger. When we wait too long to eat we develop impulsive behaviors around food which will only lead to overeating or binge eating.
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In order to prevent this, you must be in touch with your body and hunger cues and make sure to honor them.
Intuitive Eating Principle #3
Make Peace With Food. Food is not the enemy. It is actually delicious, nourishing, and energizing for the body. This principle is about letting go of ‘food rules’. Make ALL FOOD available to you. Yup, even sugar.
This is a scary principle for a lot of people, but so important for learning to trust your body again; learning to trust you aren’t ‘addicted’ to a food, learning that you won’t only eat pizza and cookies for the rest of your life. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat what you want. Let go of deprivation and restriction and allow yourself to enjoy your food.
Intuitive Eating Principle #4
Challenge the Food Police. The food police live within us all and it’s time to put an end to it. Let go of claiming you are “bad” or “good” for what or how much you eat of something. Silence the voice in your head that says ‘you shouldn’t eat that’ or bargains with you to work out in order to ‘earn’ a meal. That’s the food police and it’s not doing you any favors.
The Food Police in your mind comes from the years of being socialized in a culture that is obsessed with diet rules and it’s time to challenge those thoughts. Stop judging and feeling guilty about your food choices.
Intuitive Eating Principle #5
Respect Your Fullness. As important as it is to honor your hunger, it is equally as important to respect your fullness. If you’ve been in the diet mentality for a long time it’s probably likely that you routinely overeat because you know it’s going to be a long time before you’re “allowed” to eat again. In intuitive eating, no foods are off-limits and there are no rules to follow about when and what to eat, so you can stop eating when you’re comfortably full. It’s safe in the knowledge that if you begin to feel hungry again later on – food is available and it’s OK to eat.
By eating slowly and paying attention to your physical feelings, you can learn when it’s time to stop eating at your true fullness. It’s helpful to stop slightly before you’re full because it can take a while for your body to realize it’s actually satisfied. Ask yourself as you are eating, “Does my body feel full?”
Intuitive Eating Principle #6
Discover True Satisfaction. We often forget that eating can and should be pleasurable and satisfying. When eating from a place of non-judgment, in a safe and inviting environment, the experience of eating can be joyful.
Food is not punishment, it’s meant to be enjoyed – it’s meant to taste good and be satisfying. Rice crackers, zero-calorie drinks, and other diet foods are probably not going to leave you satisfied. If you just had the real deal, you’d feel satisfied with a lot less.
Intuitive Eating Principle #7
Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food. Yes, we need to find ways to comfort our emotions other than resorting to food but eating your emotions isn’t actually the worst thing in the world. It can sometimes be a useful coping mechanism or your body’s way of letting you know that you’re in a funk.
But it is important to develop more appropriate ways to soothe, comfort, and care for ourselves, without face bingeing on what carb-filled food we tend to grab. We can feel angry, anxious, stressed, sad, or happy every day, but it’s important to be aware of these emotions and address the root of the issue.
Food will not fix any emotional issues and can often make things even worse. You don’t need to be stressed or anxious while also being overly full and feeling guilty for overeating. Learn to acknowledge your feelings and find alternative ways to deal with them.
Intuitive Eating Principle #8
Respect Your Body. This is where things start to get interesting and you’ll begin the totally radical act of accepting yourself. While body-positive messages and exercises will be interwoven throughout the program, this is where things will really start coming together and you’ll stop determining your value based on what you’ve eaten or how much you’ve moved.
Not everyone is meant to be a size two and that is actually a good thing. Diversity is amazing and by respecting our bodies we can learn to nourish it with healthier choices. Being too critical or unrealistic with our bodies leads to unhealthy behaviors. Love the body you have right now and treat it with respect
Intuitive Eating Principal #9
Intuitive Movement. In the same way that we’ve been disconnected from eating, we rely more and more on workout programs, and fitness influencers to determine how we should move our bodies.
Intuitive movement is about finding joy in movement practice. There’s no need to over-exercise and stress out your body. Learn to exercise for the joy of it. Appreciate how your body feels when you move it. Go for a walk in nature or do some light yoga. Find what truly makes you happy and move your body and feel the difference.
Intuitive Eating Principle #10
Honor Your Health With Gentle Nutrition. Make food choices by honoring the health of your body. This is all about nourishing your body with foods that taste good and leave you feeling awesome.
This principle also reinforces the idea that you don’t have to eat a ‘perfect’ diet to be healthy and that nutrition isn’t all or nothing. Focus on satisfaction, what makes you feel good, and what provides you with the energy you need.
Have you tried intuitive eating? Is it a great tool or what?! Comment below — or tag @livesimplynatural if you are doing this work with me. I’d love to get inspired by your journey too <3