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As two self proclaimed no-diet dietitians, intuitive eating has been on our radar for years.

So when Jess had the chance to interview two prominent nutrition therapists on intuitive eating, it was a dream come true. Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A., C.E.D.R.D are the authors behind the book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.

Written back in 1995 and now in its third edition this groundbreaking book has become the go-to resource for creating a healthy relationship with food, mind and body. 

Join us as we throw out the diet books and magazine articles and enter the non-diet world of intuitive eating.   

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive Eating is a dynamic interplay of instinct, emotion, and thought.  It helps people return to the intuitive wisdom about eating with which they were born and offers them body positivity and a healthy, satisfying relationship with food and the freedom to always trust their inner voice.

What is the difference between intuitive eating and mindful eating? 

Intuitive eating and mindful eating are different concepts and it is important to not use the terms interchangeably. Think of intuitive eating as a self care framework, while mindful eating is a specific skill set. Also, it is important to note that studies conducted on intuitive eating have used the intuitive eating assessment tool, which is actually a validated instrument. Despite all these differences, there are some commonalities between the two concepts such as: awareness and non-judgement.

But intuitive eating has a directive and the first directive is to reject the diet mentality.

Also, research has actually found that intuitive eating is protective against eating disorder mentality. So, from a research perspective they are different.    

Is intuitive eating a diet?

Intuitive Eating is absolutely NOT a diet.  It has no external rules, and it’s not focussed on weight loss.  Unfortunately, some people try to turn it into a diet, but it is not!

How can we disentangle intuitive eating from being called a diet?

The first principle of intuitive eating is to reject the diet mentality. One of the biggest mechanisms behind intuitive eating is interoceptive awareness. Interoceptive awareness is our superpower as we can perceive physical sensations that arise in the body (heart rate, bladder, hunger). Every emotion has a physical sensation, so when we are connecting with our bodies we are receiving powerful information regarding our needs and if they are met. Intuitive eaters have higher interoceptive awareness. In other words, this is an inside job! Counting calories or macros takes you outside your body! Use intuitive eating as a guidepost there are no passes or fails here.

Here’s more on why Desiree and Jess don’t recommend counting calories.

How long does it take for an adult to learn their hunger cues again?

It depends! If someone has been dieting their whole life (since they were a child), this would take a little longer than someone who has tried a few diets back in college. It also depends on if trauma is present. The first step is to notice when your body is working, for example, when was the last time you peed?  

Does intuitive eating mean that you can only eat when you’re hungry?

You eat whenever you desire food, not just when you’re hungry.  If you eat when you’re hungry, however, you have a better chance of getting the most satisfaction from your meal.  If you’re eating continually, without hunger cues, then it’s important to look into the emotional connection you have with food and learn new coping skills to deal with emotions.  

Can you share five ways to incorporate intuitive eating into your life?

From Elyse: Choose foods that will be satisfying, stay present while eating, develop healthy coping mechanisms, be respectful to your body in word and deed, incorporate movement in your life that brings you joy, listen to your body’s internal cues  (interoceptive awareness) and speak up for your needs and boundaries.

From Evelyn: Start anywhere but a common place to start is to aim for satisfaction in your meals. What would that be like? What kind of foods would that be? What texture do you want? How do you want to feel when you are finished? Only YOU know what that feels like! It is a pleasant way to find balance.

Secondly, connect with your hunger! Using qualitative description, not a rating scale. For instance, let’s describe your hunger right now if it were here. Is it pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral? The goal is to eat when you have pleasant hunger. An example of that would be looking forward to dinner. Let’s notice when pleasant fullness happens. And if you ever feel unpleasantly full, using non judgemental reflection, what would you do differently next time. Pause a few bites sooner? Again, this is not a pass or fall! And lastly to the degree that you can, can you pick one meal a day to eat without distraction? Create an environment to hear and listen to our bodies. 

Does intuitive eating resonate with you? Learn more about how to ditch the deprivation mindset and consider a nutrition consultation with Jess Pirnak RD to help support you in creating a healthier relationship with food and your body. Also, check out Elyse’s new workbook: The Intuitive Eating Workbook for Teens.