The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
as developed by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch
Reject the Diet Mentality
Honor Your Hunger
Make Peace With Food
Challenge The Food Police
The Satisfaction Factor
Feel Your Fullness
Cope With Your Emotions With Kindness
Respect Your Body
Honor Your Body With Gentle Nutrition
Let's break them down...
1. Reject The Diet Mentality
Acknowledge that diets don’t work, especially those that make you completely eliminate certain foods. Reject the notion that you have no willpower or that you “failed” when you couldn’t stick to a diet. Instead, focus on learning how to eat intuitively – to trust your body to tell you when, how much and what to eat.
2. Honor Your Hunger
Keep your body fed with adequate food, otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for rebuilding trust in yourself and in food.
3. Make Peace With Food
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat any type of food. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing.
When you finally “give in” to your forbidden foods, eating will be experienced with such intensity it usually results in Last Supper overeating and overwhelming guilt. When it’s no longer forbidden, the food may not seem so appealing. Eating what you actually want can mean you feel more satisfied with your meal.
4. Challenge The Food Police
Be aware of and challenge internal negative thoughts that categorise foods as "good" or "bad" and lead to feelings of failure or guilt when you can’t stick to a diet plan. Reject the thoughts that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake.
5. The Satisfaction Factor
Savor the experience of eating. Don’t eat while you are in the car, dashing to an appointment or distracted (whether it’s by television, work or something else). Studies show that people who eat while doing something else are likely to eat more, either at the time or at their next meal. Concentrate on your food while you are eating so you can appreciate and enjoy it. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes just the right amount of food for you to decide you’ve had “enough.”
6. Feel Your Fullness
In order to honor your fullness, you need to trust that you will give yourself the foods that you desire. Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what your current hunger level is. Stop eating when you are comfortably full, even if that means leaving food on the plate or saying no to dessert.
7. Cope With Your Emotions With Kindness
First, recognize that food restriction, both physically and mentally, can, in and of itself, trigger loss of control, which can feel like emotional eating. Find kind ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger may only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion.
8. Respect Your Body
Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally futile (and uncomfortable) to have a similar expectation about body size. But mostly, respect your body so you can feel better about who you are. Accepting and respecting your body at every size will help you to feel better and make choices about food and exercise that are logical, rather than emotional. All bodies deserve dignity.
9. Joyful Movement
Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm.
10. Honor Your Body With Gentle Nutrition
Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel good. Remember that you don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or become unhealthy, from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters. Progress, not perfection, is what counts.
Adapted from Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2019). 10 principles of intuitive eating. Intuitive Eating. https://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/