What is intuitive eating?

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In a world dominated by fad diets, calorie counting, and rigid meal plans, the concept of intuitive eating offers a refreshing perspective on nourishing our bodies. At its core, intuitive eating is not just a trend but a mindful approach to food that prioritises listening to your body’s signals rather than external rules. 

Intuitive eating, also known as mindful or conscious eating, is a philosophy developed by dietitian’s Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in the 1990s. It encourages individuals to trust their bodies to guide their eating habits. This approach emphasises eating when hungry and stopping when full, rather than sticking to strict dietary rules or restrictions. Intuitive eating promotes the idea that all foods can fit into a balanced diet and encourages attunement to the body’s hunger and fullness cues. Now that we’ve covered what intuitive eating is, have you tried it out in your own life? Let’s chat about its benefits and common myths to get you started on your intuitive eating journey!

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Mindful Eating Benefits

Promote a Healthy Relationship with Food

By eliminating guilt or anxiety associated with food choices, intuitive eating encourages a positive attitude towards eating and nutrition.

Improve Body Image

Intuitive eating shifts the focus from weight or appearance to overall well-being, leading to improved body acceptance and satisfaction.

Enhance Psychological Health

It can reduce stress around meal times, decrease binge eating episodes, and improve self-esteem by empowering individuals to make food choices based on internal cues rather than external pressures.

Misconceptions about intuitive eating

Despite its growing popularity, intuitive eating is often misunderstood. One common misconception is that it promotes overindulgence in unhealthy foods. In reality, intuitive eating encourages balanced eating where no food is off-limits but is consumed in moderation based on personal preferences and nutritional needs. Another myth is that it disregards nutrition altogether. Instead, intuitive eating emphasises the importance of nutrition but believes it should complement, not dictate, eating behaviours guided by internal cues.

Principles of Intuitive Eating

Rejecting the Diet Mentality

Letting go of the mindset that dieting or strict food rules are the only way to achieve health. The key is to tune in to what your body really craves and needs. Intuitive eating is all about ditching those diets and rigid food rules that just mess with your head, making you obsess over your weight and how you look. It’s about trusting your gut (literally!) and giving yourself the freedom to enjoy food without all the guilt and stress

Honouring Hunger

Hunger is a normal and essential function of being a human and what drives us to eat when we are hungry. Responding to the body’s signals of hunger by eating enough to satisfy without overeating. Have you ever had a busy day at work and not had enough time to eat, then when you get home you could eat anything in sight? This is your body’s reaction to calorie restriction. It is important to listen to these hunger cues as the food we consume fuels our bodies and gives us the energy to live our day to day lives.

Making Peace with Food

Let go of the idea that some foods are “good” and others are “bad.” Sure, some foods pack more nutrients than others, like a chicken salad wrap compared to a slice of pizza, but labelling foods as positive or negative can mess with your head. When you attach your self-worth to what you eat, it can lead to unhealthy bingeing and an all-or-nothing mindset.

For example, imagine you’ve had a long day and dinner’s done. You could go for a piece of chocolate or some ice cream to finish off. Instead of feeling guilty about it, remind yourself it’s okay to enjoy treats in moderation. By allowing yourself to enjoy your favourite foods without guilt, you’re less likely to feel the urge to binge later on.

Respecting Fullness

Ever had that feeling of being so stuffed you think you might burst? We’ve all been there! It’s probably because you overate. By tuning into your body and respecting when you’re full, you can avoid that uncomfortable stuffed feeling. Stay present while you eat, really savour each bite, and ask yourself, “Am I still hungry?” There is no need to clean your plate if you’re already full!

Discovering Satisfaction

Seeking out foods that satisfy both physical and emotional hunger. Eating should be something you look forward to and enjoy every time. Intuitive eating teaches us to really savour and appreciate our meals. It’s about discovering the pleasure and fulfilment in eating exactly what you’re in the mood for, whenever the craving strikes, and wherever you happen to be. It’s about breaking free from the guilt and rules that often come with food and allowing yourself the simple pleasure of nourishing your body in a way that feels good to you. So next time you sit down to eat take a moment to enjoy all the flavours, textures and savour what you are eating.

Learning to Understand Your Body’s Cues

Recognizing Hunger and Fullness

Tuning into subtle cues that indicate hunger (like stomach growling or low energy) or fullness (feeling satisfied or no longer hungry).

Differentiating Physical and Emotional Hunger

Emotional eating is using food to feel better. Have you ever been sad and grabbed a block of chocolate? That’s because the sugar present in that block of sugar will give you a short term sugar high which will give you a spike of dopamine which is your feel good hormone but this is only short term

Do you eat when you feel stressed or sad? 

Understanding whether you’re eating to satisfy genuine physical hunger or to cope with emotions like stress, boredom, or sadness.

Intuitive Eating and a Happier, Healthier Relationship

By tuning into your body’s needs rather than listening to external factors, intuitive eating promotes a harmonious relationship with food, nutrition, and your body. It encourages mindfulness during meals, enhances self-awareness, and promotes long-term sustainable eating habits. This approach allows you to enjoy food without guilt, nourish your body intuitively, and ultimately achieve a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.


Intuitive eating challenges the conventional diet culture by prioritising self-care, body respect and overall well-being. Embracing this approach requires patience and practice but can lead to profound positive changes in how we perceive and interact with food. By nurturing a deeper understanding of our body’s cues, intuitive eating paves the way towards a happier, healthier relationship with food, nutrition, and ourselves.

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