The Ten Principles of Intuitive Eating

Updated: Jun 4



Intuitive eating means breaking free from the on-and-off cycle of dieting and learning to eat mindfully and without guilt. There’s no calorie counting or restrictions on foods, but there are guidelines that make up the core philosophy. The 10 principles include


1. Reject the Diet Mentality

Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you the false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently.


2. Honor Your Hunger

Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. 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

Call a truce; stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. 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 overeating and overwhelming guilt.


4. Challenge the Food Police

Scream a loud "hell no" to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The food police monitor the unreasonable rules that diet culture has created. Chasing the food police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.


5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

In our compulsion to comply with diet culture, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence—the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. 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.


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. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical of your body size or shape. All bodies deserve dignity.


9. Movement—Feel the Difference

Forget 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 Health—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.


Bottom line: Diets Don't Work! In fact, 95% of those who intentionally lose weight will gain it back. Despite this, our society is obsessed with weight loss. Diet culture is embedded into all aspects of society. It is linked to weight bias, weight cycling and eating disorders. Intuitive eating helps to break free from the on-and-off cycle of dieting and allows you to make peace with food.

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