As Intuitive Eating becomes more popular, and the term gets thrown around a lot, the message can become a little distorted. So, let’s explore the what, the why and the WOW moments (as well as a little bit on what Intuitive Eating is NOT).
Intuitive eating is when we eat based on our internal cues (hunger, fullness, energy levels etc), and leave all those external “shoulds” behind.
- I shouldn’t eat that biscuit.
- I shouldn’t be hungry now, I’ve just eaten.
- I should eat now, I eat this time every day.
- I should eat to my diet plan, anything more or less is not good enough.
Intuitive eating asks us to trust our bodies, and respects that we know how and when to nourish ourselves. We make peace with all foods.
So, why is there so much hype? When people eat intuitively we find the following:
- Increased emotional wellbeing
- Improved body image
- Decreased weight cycling
- Less disordered eating
- Improvements in health markers (cholesterol, blood pressure)
- Increased levels of exercise
Living life without food rules frees up so much mental space, and allows us to make time for the things we enjoy.
When I asked a group of intuitive eaters what their WOW moment was these were their replies:
- “I could finally enjoy a stress-free weekend away with friends. I could eat and drink happily, without having to make up for it when I got home.”
- “I never realised how much stress it caused me to be so preoccupied with my food and body. It cleared up so much time for me when I learned to trust myself again.”
- “Being able to eat with spontaneity was so refreshing, I could go out and eat what was available on the menu, not what I had pre-planned the week before.”
What it is NOT
To paint a full picture, we also need to highlight what Intuitive Eating is NOT.
It is not a new type of weight loss program.
It does not mean we eat donuts and cake all day.
It does not mean we are letting ourselves go.
SO WHAT NOW?
Intuitive Eating teaches us to eat in a way that serves us both physically and mentally, and helps us to reach a place of food freedom.
Remember that this is just a small snapshot into the world of Intuitive Eating, however if you are ready dive in, LET’S GO.
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive eating. New York: St. Martins Griffin.
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2017). The intuitive eating workbook: principles for nourishing a healthy relationship with food. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Intuitive Eating in the Treatment of Eating Disorders: The Journey of Atunement. Renfrew Perspectives (2010).
Jessica Tilbrook (BNutDiet) is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) with a passion for people, their stories, and understanding their relationship with food.
Jess has completed a Bachelor in Nutrition and Dietetics with Flinders University, and has since gone on to train in disordered eating, intuitive eating and mindfulness.
Since graduating she has worked in the acute, sub-acute and private sectors, including aged care, rehab and mental health specialties. Most significantly, she has spent three years managing Dietetic services across QLD, NSW and ACT for a large non-for profit.