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10 Benefits of Intuitive Eating

What are the ten benefits of Intuitive Eating?

Learn the benefits of Intuitive Eating and how they can help you establish a healthy relationship with food and your body.

1. No more dieting

The first principle of Intuitive Eating is Reject the Diet Mentality. Why is this so important?

Diets have taught you not to listen to your body. The good news is that you can re-learn by practicing the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating.

Diets don’t teach you how to have a healthy relationship with food which is an essential to reaching “gentle nutrition” which is the end goal of Intuitive Eating. Diets may give you short term weight loss but it’s almost always followed by regaining the weight and often more. Diets aren’t meant to be sustainable. Remember, diets are designed for short term “success” with repeat business as billion dollar industry!

2. No more trying to ‘control’ hunger

The second principle of Intuitive Eating is foundational. It focuses on a critical skill that you may have lost due to diet culture – honoring your own individual hunger.

You may have learned to ignore your hunger through diets, skipping meals, intermittent fasting etc. But your body is asking for the exact opposite – to listen for your body’s cues telling you that you need energy and respond when hunger feels gentle. Why? Because once you feel ravenous (hangry!), all bets are off for eating to comfortable fullness.

♡ KEY POINT: Honoring your hunger when it’s gentle is foundational to honoring comfortable fullness.

3. No more ‘forbidden’ foods

One of the benefits of Intuitive Eating is that it can reduce sugar cravings.
One of the benefits of Intuitive Eating is that it can reduce sugar cravings.

What if having donuts (insert your forbidden food) in your house was no big deal?

Perhaps there’s a family member in your house that may grab a donut, cookie, brownie and moves on. No guilt for eating it. No desire to eat the whole bag. This is the way a non dieter’s mind works according to research.

Through an evidence process called habituation, you too can have a healthy relationship with all foods including your ‘forbidden’ foods.

More benefits of Intuitive Eating

4. No more food rules, cheat days

Diets and eating plans are full of food rules. Once you break one by eating a “bad” food, you feel like you failed. This is madness.

Consider that every year new “plans” (diets) come out that often contradict the rules of previous diets – don’t eat fat, eat mostly fat (yes I remember the eat fat free food rules which have been replaced by eat fat according to the Keto diet). Sigh.

You don’t need a set of rules to eat healthy. Instead you will learn how to listen to your body and eat healthy foods for the most part as healthy eating isn’t perfect eating.

5. No more dissatisfied, pleasureless eating

In Intuitive Eating, finding satisfaction in your eating experiences is important. Let me share an infographic to illustrate what happens when we “diet” and have “forbidden” foods.

Dieting mindset versus Intuitive Eater mindset
One of the benefits of Intuitive Eating is that it can reduce overeating by bringing satisfaction to your plate.

Humans are designed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. So you will continue to seek pleasure and satisfaction until you get it (notice how much food was eaten by the dieter versus the Intuitive Eater (non dieter).

6. No more controlled portion sizes

In order to honor fullness, you first learn how to honor your hunger needs.

Next, ditch controlled portion sizes because they’re not one size fits all – meaning that your body’s unique energy needs change every day.

Instead you learn how feel your body’s cues of comfortable fullness.

Hunger and fullness scale
One of the benefits of Intuitive Eating is that it can teach you how to listen to your hunger and fullness.

7. No more beating yourself up for ‘emotional’ eating

Emotional eating is demonized in diet culture which is deeply imbedded in Western culture as “bad” and something to fix. The truth is that we are all emotional eaters to some degree as we’ve learned since infancy to equate food with love, comfort and pleasure. So it makes perfect sense that we go to food as a quick fix to feel or not feel. The solution is to have a toolbox of coping mechanisms to go to beyond food.

And there’s one other cause of emotional eating: dieting, restricting your food. Nothing will make you feel more emotional than not getting your energy needs met and not being allowed to eat a food you love because it’s forbidden on your plan.

8. No more body bashing

Learning to respect body is critical to your self-care. Diet culture is based in body shame. It teaches you that there’s only one body size that’s healthy and that your body should never change as you move through the stages of life. All of this is BS.

Unlearning toxic body image messages
One of the benefits of Intuitive Eating is that it can help you have a healthy relationship with your unique body.

Through Intuitive Eating you learn how to honor your unique diverse body with self love, not self-control. Having a healthy body image isn’t about what your body looks like. Instead, it’s about your mindset toward your body and separating your self-worth from your appearance.

9. No more exercise to “burn and earn” food

In Intuitive Eating principle 9, you learn to decouple moving your body from diet culture – as merely a means to changing your body, focusing on the scale as “success.”

Could you move your body because there are a ton of benefits of exercise that don’t have you focused on your weight such as getting stronger, feeling more empowered, energized, confident and overall improving the quality of your life?

And one my favorite benefits of Intuitive Eating is:

10. No more ‘perfect eating’ to be healthy

The final principle of Intuitive Eating is Honor Your Health – Gentle Nutrition. It’s the last guideline because you first have to learn how to listen to your body’s signals to guide you in principles 1 – 9. Now you will be able to listen for how your food choices make you feel versus external food rules.

And most of all, you learn that what you eat is just a piece of your whole health so you don’t need to eat “perfectly” because there’s a complex set of factors that affects your well-being including the social determinants of health. Healthy eating is what you eat consistently over time – for the most part eating!

* Have a question about Intuitive Eating? I’d love to hear from you, Tanya

P.S. Want to learn more? Check out The Anti-Diet is called Intuitive Eating.

Intuitive Eating: do you need to re-learn how to eat?

When we were born, we instinctively knew how to eat. But as we move through life, we are impacted by the messages from the world around us. We’re taught over and over again about what to eat. And the “what” we should eat shifts year after year.

These lessons come from family members (more often than not with good intentions), the latest clean eating book, social media and more. And that finger wagging at us telling us we shouldn’t eat this or that, comes from our own thoughts and self-judgement about food and our bodies that we’ve learned from living in diet culture.

Intuitive Eating

Most of us need to relearn how to eat. Learning how to eat again through a self-care framework called Intuitive Eating (IE) developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. IE teaches us to let good of food rules, to develop body trust and finally have the healthy relationship with food and our bodies that we desire.

Tapping into intuitive eating practices can help us with perceived eating challenges such as:

  • over-eating, believing we need portion control
  • mindless eating, “emotional” eating, eating when not physically hungry
  • craving, sneaking or “bingeing” on “bad” or “forbidden” foods

These perceived eating challenges are often symptoms of disconnected eating and diet culture restrictions. So many of us struggle with them. I did. And that’s what led me to study and support clients through the process of Intuitive Eating.

So, what is Intuitive Eating?

First things first, Intuitive Eating isn’t another goal to accomplish. There is no success or failure. It’s a lifelong journey of reconnecting with yourself and nourishing yourself. For many of us, it’s a relearning.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating include:

Rejecting the Diet Mentality

If we don’t “diet” then what should we do? There is no “quick fix” for our underlying challenges with food. Every year there is the latest greatest eating plan. Yes, you might have “success” with one or more, but how long does it last? And at what cost – as “diets” are called the “life thief” by Christy Harrison, author, Anti-Diet.

Our challenges with food are often symptoms asking us to look deeper. And the messages will get louder and louder (over the years) until we finally listen and do the deeper work.

I can hear you now…“but I HAVE to control my eating so I must be on an eating plan or diet.” While the focus of Intuitive Eating isn’t on weight loss, it’s absolutely about honoring your whole health – physically, mentally and emotionally.

The focus of IE is on our relationship with food and body and the rewards are great.

So, what’s driving our unwanted behaviors with food? This is the bigger question. This is the question we should be asking and addressing. After the diet or eating plan is over, we are still left with our unique selves and our unique relationship with food. Some of us have been on and off eating plans for most of our lives that we don’t know how to eat without a set of rules to follow. So let’s learn to eat again. It’s a practice.

Honor Your Hunger

Your body knows when it needs food, and it will tell you so. In fact, if you’re depriving your body of certain macronutrients and/or overall calories, it will eventually drive you to “overeat” which is really just primal hunger. This drive may even feel like a “binge” when in fact it may be purely a physical need for, well, more food that you’re feeding your body.

Everyone is unique, but for some, it may be helpful to have a regular eating rhythm or feed yourself when feeling gentle hunger so that you don’t get to the breaking point of “OMG I’m so hungry I’m going to eat everything in sight.” In order to do so, we must connect with gentle hunger, by listening for our unique internal physical body cues, interoceptive awareness, which is foundational to the practice of Intuitive Eating.

Peace ☮️ Out

Make peace with food. It’s not out to get you. You may have fear of food making you “fat” or certain foods will “kill” you. But they key to developing a healthy relationship with food is to give yourself unconditional permission to eat.

WHATTTT!!!! I know this concept sounds scary but if you constantly tell yourself you can’t or shouldn’t eat certain foods, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that can lead to uncontrollable cravings and “binge” eating, which then can lead to guilt.

Intuitive eating has a strategy called habituation that is designed to help you make peace with your list of “forbidden” or “bad” foods. This practice has created powerful shifts in the eating mindset for many of my clients (and no, you won’t want to eat oreos all day, every day).

Challenge your inner Food Police

Are you “good” (follow the rules) or “bad” (breaking the rules)? Do you identify with being “bad” for eating too many cookies, or “good” for eating a salad when you really hunger for a sandwich? The Food Police have rules that have been drilled into our brains for years. Intuitive Eating works to break down the power they hold over you.

This doesn’t mean that you throw caution to the wind and let your inner rebel eat whatever you want. Instead it’s about not having to live by outside rules and having to control yourself all the time. Let’s soften. There’s a middle ground that’s more easeful.

Listen for Fullness Clues

Your body will tell you when it’s satiated. You just need to listen. Bringing awareness to the plate is essential to feel satiety. Mindless, distracted, fast eating, which is so common these days, mutes the signal for satiety. See food and the eating experience as nourishment for not just your body, but your mind and soul (not just as fuel).

Embrace Satisfaction

In our desire to fit culture’s ideals, we may stray from one important nutritional element – pleasure. Enjoyment needs to be a part of the eating process in order to feel satisfied.

The next time you eat, notice, are you satisfied with what you’re eating? I remember distinctly when I was a teenager trying to “be good” by eating fat free food after fat free food and overall eating a lot because I never received any satisfaction from my list of “good” foods. Why? Because my desire for smaller thighs spoke louder than receiving satisfaction from my food. At first. Eventually, I dove into the Alfredo pasta.

Now I eat foods that satisfy me without deprivation and it’s just no big deal (and no longer the “forbidden, guilt-ridden” pasta.

Honor Your Feelings With Kindness

We’re all emotional eaters. It’s useful to find ways to comfort yourself in difficult times that don’t involve food. For example, find an outlet to cure boredom that doesn’t involve eating. Food won’t change any of those feelings even though it might distract or soothe in the short term.

Identifying the underlying emotion is a fantastic step if feeding your emotions has become your habit. Remember eating for emotions reasons is normal. It’s not “bad”. If it becomes your “go-to,” we can help you explore new ways to feel and cope beyond food.

Respect and Accept Your Body

Learn to respect your human body. Accept your unique genetic blueprint. Consider if you were constantly trying to make your size 8 foot fit into a size 6 shoe.

Being overcritical of yourself makes it extremely challenging to reject the diet mentality. As a Body Image Movement Global Ambassador, I help clients practice body neutrality, which means that you don’t have to “love” every aspect of your body rather you practice having more compassion towards yourself as a human being.

All bodies deserve respect. Period.

I help you put your health in perspective and soften the habit of constantly comparing yourself to ideal body images that less than 5% of us naturally possess. It’s time for a reality check!

Move Your Body

Give up the rigorous weight-loss focused workout programs and, instead, move your body in ways that bring you joy and make you feel good. I love exercise, yet, I’ve shifted to movement that feels good not just physically but movement that also feeds my mind and spirit.

And remember, more isn’t necessarily better. Tune in and become more aware of the signals that your body is sending. Are you still tired and feel like you have to drag yourself to your next workout? Or do you look forward to your next yoga class because it allows you to slow down, breathe and press the pause button?

Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

Remember that you don't have to eat "perfectly" in order to be healthy. It's what you eat consistently, over long periods of time that matter. The key term is "for the most part." Honoring your health by eating healthy foods most of the time can come naturally when you reclaim intuitive eating. It's an important concept of intuitive eating.

Keep In Mind

Your diet is not only what you eat. It’s what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, the people you hang around…be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, physically and spiritually.

  • Tiny Buddha

While these are the 10 principles to consider to help you reconnect to self nourishment, make sure this list doesn’t become a check-list, a “to-do” list where you accomplish it or not, succeed or fail. Because then again, intuitive eating can become another kind of “diet” or eating plan, full of “rules.”

Intuitive Eating…

  • It’s about reconnecting with yourself and nourishment.
  • It’s about tuning in to your unique body’s needs, instead of tuning out.
  • It’s about slowing down with food and with life, trying to fit it all in.
  • It’s about saying “yes” to yourself, making self-nourishment a priority…so that you can take care of others and feel and BE your best self.
  • And again, it’s not another list of rules or an item to add to your “to-do” list!

Doesn’t that sound lovely? I invite you to relearn how to eat again.

Have a question, comment or would love support and guidance through the Intuitive Eating journey? Reach out!

  • Tanya

You are more than what you eat + [what you think and feel about it matters more]

Metabolism and the Mind

The satiated man and the hungry man do not see the same thing when they look upon a loaf of bread.

  • The great poet Rumi

It’s true. We all come to the table with different perspectives and life stories. I like to think of this as a direct reflection of how everybody’s metabolism functions differently. No two people will metabolize a slice of pizza in the same way. One person may see the pizza as a delicious treat while another who struggles with how she feels about food and her body may look at it with fear and guilt. The former will metabolize the food completely while the latter’s body will struggle to process it.

The brain doesn’t distinguish between a real stressor or an imagined one…Any guilt about food, shame about the body, or judgment about health are considered stressors by the brain and are immediately transduced into their electrochemical equivalents in the body. You could eat the healthiest meal on the planet, but if you’re thinking toxic thoughts the digestion of your food goes down. Likewise, you could be eating a nutritionally challenged meal, but if your head and heart are in the right place, the nutritive power of your food will be increased.”

The Power Belongs to Our Minds

In my studies to become an Eating PsychologyCoach, I learned about a fascinating medical study that took place in 1983 to test a new chemotherapy treatment. One group of cancer patients were given the actual drug while another group was given a placebo, a standard way to test whether a drug is effective or not.

About 75% of the patients lost their hair. This wasn’t a big surprise to the researchers. What WAS a big surprise was the fact that 31% of the patients who received a placebo ALSO lost their hair. Why? Because they expected to lose their hair. Like many, they associated chemotherapy with hair loss.

So, how healthy is your mindset? Are you empowering your metabolism or putting strain on it?

The New Metabolism:

the sum total of all the chemical reactions in the body, _plus the sum total of all our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and experiences

Toss aside that old saying “you are what you eat”.

My work as an eating psychology coach emphasizes exploring your unique thoughts, feelings and beliefs about food and your body. Often we need to re-train our brains to have a happy and healthy relationship with food. And when we make a commitment to improve this relationship, we can feel relaxed around food and our bodies and re-purpose this energy to give our unique gifts to the world!

It’s liberating.

I’d love to hear about your unique beliefs about food and body and how they’ve impacted your life.

  • Tanya