Upon hearing the name, “intuitive eating,” it may sound like the next fad diet circling around your feed. However, intuitive eating is an approach to withdraw from diet culture and promote a healthy relationship with food and the body. Studies have shown that there are plenty of psychological benefits to intuitive eating, including the development of coping skills, garnering greater self-esteem and appreciation for the body, and less anxiety around eating.
So what is intuitive eating? It involves honoring your feelings of hunger and removing the guilt of eating when you feel that you need to. There are no “good” foods or “bad” foods in this approach. Rather, intuitive eating views food as a means to meet and respect your mental and physical needs, allowing space for a spectrum of foods in your diet from nutrition to treats.
Aspects of mindfulness are incorporated into this approach through mindful eating and bodily awareness. Mindful eating encourages you to immerse yourself in the experience of eating your meal. Notice how your meal tastes as you are chewing and the qualities you find satisfying, and enjoy it! Bodily awareness involves being aware of when you feel too full to continue eating or would like to go for seconds. When you feel like you are too full to complete a meal, it is okay to stop and save it for later. And there is no shame in feeling that you need to eat more. Bodily awareness also involves understanding how the food you eat makes you feel. Maybe some foods make you feel great, but other foods upset your stomach. For some, coffee in the morning provides a lift needed to start the day, but for some, coffee can lead to a jittery and unsettling feeling. Mindfulness when eating can help you learn more about yourself and allow you to eat in a way that fulfills your individual wants and needs.
In short, intuitive eating can be understood as eating when you are hungry. However, in a society that heavily promotes strict beauty standards and diet culture, eating when hungry might not be intuitive to too many people. To those struggling with guilty feelings or restrictive behaviors around eating, intuitive eating can be the beginning to a healed relationship with food.
Resch, E. (2019). The intuitive eating workbook for teens: A non-diet, body positive approach to building a healthy relationship with food. New Harbinger Publications.