Intuitive Eating

Nutrition & Well-Being
07 July 2023Hubert Cormier, Nutritionist

Intuitive eating is a concept that promotes a conscious approach to eating. Specifically, this approach focuses on making decisions based on listening to the body's hunger and fullness signals. In addition, this approach does not encourage dietary restrictions but encourages eating all types of foods in moderation.

 Intuitive eating views each individual as unique and encourages listening to one's body to determine food needs. This means that those who practice intuitive eating learn to listen to their body to determine when to eat and what to eat, as well as how much food is needed to feel satisfied.

This approach focuses on breaking free from the guilt associated with food and emphasizes taking a positive approach to food. It advocates food neutrality, which means no longer looking at food as either good or bad.

Table with a bounty of different raw foods

What are the top tips for eating intuitively?

To eat intuitively, it is important to recognize the signals the body sends. For example, physical symptoms of hunger could be a growling stomach, an empty sensation in the abdomen, a lack of energy or difficulty paying attention or concentrating. 

On the other hand, false hunger is often the result of an emotional trigger. For example, eating out of boredom or to comfort oneself is a sign of emotional hunger.

Satiety can be recognized through a variety of signals, such as a feeling of satisfaction or fullness, reduced appetite or pleasure in eating, an increase in energy or a desire to get up from the table. In short, the human body can easily signal if it needs food or if it has consumed enough food to function properly. So, it is important to listen to the signals the body sends us.

That said, it is equally important to note that intuitive eating can be difficult for some to put into practice, particularly if they have been on restrictive diets or have a complicated relationship with food. If this is the case, it may be helpful to see a qualified health professional such as a nutritionist who can offer assistance and additional advice.

Principles of intuitive eating

To integrate intuitive eating into your daily life, familiarize yourself with the 10 principles of intuitive eating. These techniques will help you to consciously evaluate your body's signals, using a positive approach with no restrictions.  In addition, following this particular type of eating can improve mental and physical health.

1. Reject diet culture
Rejecting diet mentality is an important part of intuitive eating. Many diets are based on the idea of restriction or deprivation, thus creating a cycle of restrictive behaviours that can harm one's mental and physical health. 

2. Honor your hunger
Respecting your hunger means learning to recognize the signals your body sends to let you know you are hungry, and responding to those signals appropriately by eating nutritious foods. This also means not allowing other factors to influence when you eat or the amount of food required to satisfy your hunger.

3. Make peace with food
Make peace with food by allowing yourself to eat all types of food, without judgment or guilt. 

4. Stop categorizing foods
Intuitive eating encourages you to stop classifying foods as "good" or "bad." Instead, concentrate on the way each food makes you feel. 

5. Experience satisfaction
Intuitive eating consists of listening to your body and finding foods that satisfy you both physically and emotionally.

6. Pay attention to fullness signals and eat consciously
Eating slowly and savouring each bite is recommended. By slowing the pace of your meals, you are able to take note of new textures and flavours that may not have been evident in the past.

7. Experience your emotions without turning to food
Managing emotions is an important part of daily life. We must find ways other than food to manage emotions like joy, stress, anxiety or loneliness. 

 8. Respect your body
Learn to like and respect your body, regardless of its size or shape.

9. Exercise
Intuitive eating encourages you to re-frame your relationship with exercise, and move for pleasure rather than concentrating on how many calories you are burning, or how much weight you may lose.

10. Honor your taste buds
Do not hesitate to eat moderate portions of your favourite foods. Do not deny yourself of them by telling yourself that it is not "healthy." Moreover, it is important to recognize that certain foods can have a positive effect on your mood and mental health. 

In short, it is important to note that these are not linear principles, and do not necessarily have to be followed in any particular order. Rather, they are designed to help people develop a healthy, intuitive relationship with food, based on listening to their body and respecting themselves.

Photo with a bounty of different foods