10 principles of intuitive eating for weight loss

10 principles of intuitive eating for weight loss

Team ErbologyErbology

Intuitive eating principles are intended to offer a wellness-boosting alternative to dieting. They’re designed to promote body positivity and encourage a healthy relationship with food. But what are the 10 principles of intuitive eating – and more importantly, do they work? Let’s investigate.

January 11, 2023 10:11 am

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is a method that advocates listening to your body and enjoying your food. Simply put, you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. The intention is to develop a healthy attitude towards both food and body image.

Unlike traditional diets, intuitive eating doesn’t tell you what you can and cannot eat. There are no meal plans, recipes, calorie restrictions, or forbidden foods. In many ways, you could consider it to be an anti-diet. However, it still aims to improve your mental and physical health through its intuitive eating principles.

Dieticians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch coined the term in their 1995 book, Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Diet Approach. Although they formulated the first intuitive eating definition, the roots of the concept are far deeper. In essence, it’s returning to a natural way of eating. The problem is that restrictive fad diets and our preoccupation with our appearance have disrupted our intuitions about food.

This approach asserts that by following the 10 intuitive eating principles, we can change that. By learning to trust our body’s natural hunger and fullness cues, we’re able to build a healthier relationship with food. As part of this, intuitive eating promotes enjoying the food that you love without feeling guilty.

At the same time, intuitive eating recognises the risks of obesity. Therefore, it also advocates finding joy in exercise and avoiding using food as a way to deal with difficult emotions.

Overall, the intuitive eating principles are intended to help you break free of harmful diet cycles. Instead, you can use them to develop a positive and sustainable approach to healthy eating.

vegan mushroom burger

The 10 principles of intuitive eating

In their book, Tribole and Resch discuss 10 intuitive eating principles. These outline the main ideas behind the philosophy to give you a better understanding of how it works. Here’s an overview:

1. Reject the diet mentality

A diet mentality involves being fixated with food and constantly searching for a miracle diet to solve all your problems. The first of the intuitive eating principles is to free yourself from this harmful way of thinking.

It’s important to recognise that the promises of rapid, easy, and permanent weight loss these fad diets make are unrealistic. You’re not a failure because they haven’t worked for you. They promote an unhealthy mindset, and can be damaging for both your mental and physical health. Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach that aims to help you break out of this vicious cycle.

2. Honour your hunger

Many weight loss programs tell people to consider hunger as an enemy, or even a sign of success. It’s neither. Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that you need to eat. If you resist this urge and restrict your food intake, it can actually trigger a drive to overeat. When you’re excessively hungry, you’re more likely to make poor food choices.

The intuitive eating principles involve recognising, respecting, and responding to your body’s natural hunger signals. This enables you to keep yourself adequately fed, with sufficient energy and nutrients for your body to function healthily. Plus, you’ll also feel satisfied psychologically.

banana bread ingredients

3. Make peace with food

Hunger is not the enemy, and neither is food. A lot of diets heavily restrict the type of food you can eat, for example by cutting out carbs. However, telling yourself that you’re not allowed something may cause feelings of deprivation and cravings for that food. After all, we know it’s common to want the exact things we can’t have! This in turn might lead to bingeing, overeating, and subsequent guilt. Again, this is not healthy.

Under the intuitive eating principles, you give yourself permission to eat whatever you want. This means you’re more likely to feel satisfied with your meals, and not experience obsessive desires for ‘bad’ foods.

4. Challenge the food police

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you need to confront anyone! The food police are actually inside your own head. They’re those voices telling you that you’re bad for eating a chocolate bar, or good for surviving on minimal calories. The ones that make you feel guilty for having a slice of cake at a friend’s birthday party. The voices that insist you’re a failure because a certain diet didn’t work for you.

With the intuitive eating principles, you first learn to recognise these negative thoughts for what they are. Then you challenge them. This helps you to develop a healthier relationship with food.

banana bread

5. Discover the satisfaction factor

Eating should be enjoyable! A meal is an experience to savour, not something to rush. Yet unfortu