The 10 principles of intuitive eating cover a variety of topics and aren’t as simple as “eating when you are hungry” or “eating whatever you want”. While these are components of intuitive eating, there is so much more nuance!
These principles were developed by two registered dietitians and coauthors, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. You can purchase their book, on Amazon (affiliate link):
While the term “intuitive eating” is thrown around often, typically to describe a way of eating that doesn’t involve tracking calories and macronutrients, there is so much more to it, and these principles describe it perfectly.
Reject the Diet Mentality
The first principle is rejecting diet mentality. So, what does this even mean? Well to sum it up, this means you need to stop looking for quick weight loss solutions.
You need to give up hope that there is some magical diet that is finally going to work – because there is not.
All fad diets are based around getting fast results, but they are not maintainable long term. Instead of continuing the yo yo diet cycle, commit to creating a sustainable eating pattern – such as intuitive eating.
Honor Your Hunger
Next principle is to honor your hunger. It’s super important to keep yourself adequately fed throughout the day.
When you let yourself become physically hungry and stay this way because you don’t want to gain weight, your body will go into rebellion, and you will be driven to overeat or binge eat.
Instead, honor your hunger and eat when your body is telling you to. This will benefit you in the long run and help prevent overeating when you finally give into your hunger.
Make Peace with Food
The next principle is making peace with food. You need to start giving yourself unconditional permission to eat! Because of diet culture, we think that there are some foods that are “good” and others that are “bad”.
This simply isn’t true! Accept the fact that all foods play a part in fueling our bodies and helping us thrive.
Once you inevitably give into these foods that you consider “bad”, you will likely overeat and feel intense guilt and shame. This doesn’t need to be the case! Include all foods into your diet.
Challenge the Food Police
We are all our worst critics. It’s easy to beat ourselves up for eating an extra slice of cake or choosing candy instead of fruit. While we may feel like these feelings are keeping us “on track”, they can actually be more harmful than helpful.
Step away from these feelings and give yourself unconditional permission to eat all kinds of food, without feelings of guilt.
Feel Your Fullness
Just as it’s important to honor your hunger, it’s also important to feel your fullness. Listen for those signs that your body is full.
Take a moment in the middle of a meal to assess your fullness and satisfaction. Focus on tasting your food and enjoying it.
Discover the Satisfaction Factor
We often deny the fact that food can be a source of pleasure. Instead we feel guilty for eating delicious, rich foods.
Instead, shift your focus to enjoying your food. And yes, you can eat a very healthful diet and eat foods that taste delicious.
Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food
One of the most common reasons for bingeing and overeating is negative emotions. Food can serve as a great comfort in times of sadness, loneliness, boredom, anger, etc.
But, food unfortunately won’t fix any of these feelings. It can be a great distraction, but it only works short term.
Part of intuitive eating is dealing with the source of negative emotions, and finding ways to cope that are more sustainable and long term than overeating or binge eating.
Respect Your Body
Next principle involves respecting your body. So many spend a large majority of their life trying to fit into a smaller size, when they could be spending this time enjoying the body that they are in.
How many times do you hear people saying, I wish I appreciated my body more in college, or 10 years ago. Well, guess what? You can choose to appreciate your body now.
We were all born with a genetic blueprint which determines what weight you “naturally”. Instead of constantly fighting your genes, focus on creating a healthy sustainable lifestyle through intuitive eating.
Exercise – Feel the Difference
Exercise does NOT need to be attached to weight loss. Choose forms of exercise that you genuinely enjoy and look forward to, instead of the diet that will burn the most calories.
Experiment with different forms of exercise to see what you enjoy. We are all different, with different preferences, so don’t feel like you have to enjoy the same form of exercise as anyone else.
Whether you love weight training or long distance running. Do what you enjoy and feels best to you!
Gentle Nutrition – Honor Your Health
The last principle is honoring your health with gentle nutrition. This means eating foods that you not only tasty, but are beneficial to your health.
It also emphasizes the idea that you will not develop a nutrient deficiency or chronic disease from one day of “bad” eating. What matters is consistency over time! So focus on eating healthy, nutrient dense foods alongside foods that satisfy your cravings
The Principles of Intuitive Eating Summary
As you can see, intuitive eating is so much more than just eating when you are hungry. It involves giving up the desire to be in a smaller body, rejecting fad diets, learning to enjoy your food, challenging the idea of “good” and “bad” foods and finding ways to be active that are enjoyable for you.
By combining all these principles, you can practice intuitive eating in its entirety. You’ll find that your relationship with food will be transformed and you’ll no longer find yourself binge eating or overeating as often as before.
Want to learn more about my personal experience with intuitive eating? Learn more here (affiliate link).