Intuitive Eating 101

Have you ever tried to feed a baby that wasn’t hungry? They turn their head, hit the spoon, pierce their lips. Or on the flip-side, have you ever tried to console a hungry baby with a toy? It does not work very well. Babies are intuitive eaters, and this means that when they are hungry they eat, and when they are full they stop. They don’t police themselves on “good vs bad” foods, and they don’t end up with guilt or shame after choosing to eat foods.

This is how I typically describe what being an intuitive eater looks like to clients. We were born with these innate signals that tell us when to eat and when we are satisfied. However, often along life’s journey, many of us have experiences that “mess” with these intuitive cues and lead us away from listening to our bodies.

Dieting, restricting food intake, table trauma, eating disorders, and various life experiences are just a few of the many things that can interfere with our natural hunger and satiety cues and our ability to sense and honor them. Intuitive eating can be a key part of recovery for those who struggle with their relationship with food. Imagine feeling complete freedom when it comes to food, food choices, and your body. That is the feeling Intuitive Eating can provide for you.

Feel like you’ve lost your way from being an intuitive eater? There is hope! You can relearn to be an intuitive eater.

There ten principles of Intuitive Eating. These are not about theory, it is about the process:

  1. Reject the diet mentality.
  2. Honor your hunger.
  3. Make peace with food.
  4. Challenge the food police.
  5. Respect your fullness.
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor
  7. Honor your feelings without using food
  8. Respect your body
  9. Exercise feel the difference
  10. Honor your health.

Intuitive Eating is based upon the principles of Health at Every Size and body acceptance. It is not intended as a weight-loss method. Some people may lose weight, others may gain weight, and still others may maintain their weight with Intuitive Eating. Weight change is not the goal of intuitive eating. Instead, intuitive eating will help you make peace with food, free yourself from disordered eating patterns, and rediscover the pleasures of eating.

Intuitive Eating is designed for people who have disordered eating behaviors like yo-yo dieting, going between restricting eating and overeating, or occasional bingeing. Intuitive Eating is not designed for people with active eating disorders who are just considering beginning their recovery journeys or people in the early stages of recovery. Attempting to practice IE while in these states can worsen an ED. As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, I advise clients not to begin intuitive eating until they have sought the recommendation from a trained clinician who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders to ensure that they are ready. Here at Evolve any of our team members would be happy to discuss if you are in an appropriate spot to begin this process of relearning to be an Intuitive Eater.

Intrigued? Stay tuned for future posts on each of the Intuitive Eating principles, or check out the Intuitive Eating website here and the Health at Every Size website here to learn more now.


Becky Schmechel, RD, CD

Registered Dietitian

Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor

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