The 10 principles of intuitive eating cover every aspect of tuning out external rules and tuning into your own innate wisdom. Learn how these principles can help you improve your relationship with food and become a confident eater.
If you’re under the impression that intuitive eating is the “eat when your hungry, stop when you're full, and eat whatever you want’ diet– you’re in for a treat with this post. There are TEN principles to guide you on your intuitive eating journey.
Each one is essential and can have a different level of importance for you, depending on where you are in your journey and what you struggle with. You're bound to learn something from these ten intuitive eating principles even if you don’t identify as a “dieter” or have a disordered relationship with food.
What is intuitive eating?
Intuitive eating is a radical way of eating that shows you how to tune into your body and tune out nonsense diet rules.
I say radical while rolling my eyes because this way of eating and living should be the norm! Instead, we place way too much value on weight and appearance and have a skewed perspective on what “health” actually is.
Intuitive eating is a framework developed by two dietitians in the 1990s. Ten principles help guide you to honor what your body needs when you need it, ditch food rules that give food way too much power over you, move your body to make yourself feel good, and learn to respect and care for yourself. If you want to learn even more about intuitive eating and how it can benefit you, make sure you check out my beginner's guide!
Is intuitive eating evidence-based?
You can bet your bottom dollar intuitive eating is evidence-based.
Since this framework started gaining popularity three decades ago, there have been over 100 research studies proving that intuitive eating effectively improves physical health, mental health, life satisfaction, and decreases disordered eating and eating disorders.
What are the 10 principles of intuitive eating?
Some principles get more attention than others, but each of the ten principles of intuitive eating is important to creating a healthy relationship with food and your body.
When diving into these, remember that you don’t have to follow them in any particular order. The only one that I feel is most important to handle first is principle number one. After that, it’s fair game to work on whichever principle speaks to you the most.
1. Reject the Diet mentality
Before getting started on your intuitive eating journey, you need to honestly believe deep down in your soul (and in your mind) that dieting is not the answer.
Toss out your diet books, unfollow the influencers promoting their detox teas on Instagram, and acknowledge the dangers and damaging effects of dieting. Trust that the diet, binge, guilt, diet (or diet, lose weight, binge, gain weight) cycle would continue if you keep on that path and dedicate yourself to the journey of trusting yourself and your body to guide your eating choices.
2. Honor Your Hunger
Identify and honor your body’s physical hunger. Keeping yourself fueled regularly throughout the day will help you avoid ravenous uncontrolled eating. You begin to build trust in yourself and food by showing your body that you’ll give it energy when it asks for it.
3. Make Peace with Food
Begin to cross the foods off of your “forbidden food” list. Learn how to give yourself unconditional permission to eat the foods you have restricted or feared to stop binging on them, feeling guilty for eating them and constantly thinking about them.
4. Challenge the Food Police
Call out and challenge the voice in your head that calls you “good” or “bad” based on the foods you eat or the number on the scale. You’ll identify the damaging banter that’s going on in your head and replace it with helpful self-talk.
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
The hub of intuitive eating– satisfaction from what you eat makes all the difference in feeling satisfied and content with your food choices. Learn how to identify what types of food will leave you satisfied at any given moment and how to allow yourself to find pleasure in eating.
6. Feel Your Fullness
You’ll learn how to identify the signals your body gives you to tell you when you’ve had enough. You’ll increase awareness of how you feel when you’re comfortably full versus uncomfortably full. Not sure what I mean? Check out the hunger and fullness scale to see it in action.
7. Cope with your Emotions with Kindness
If food is your go-to source of distraction, comfort, or stress relief, you’ll learn other ways to cope. Emotional eating isn’t a bad thing, but when it’s the only way you deal with your emotions and do it in a way that doesn’t solve the problem– it’s worth working on. You’ll develop new ways to cope with or distract from your emotions instead of always reaching for food.
8. Respect Your Body
Your body shape and size are unique to you– and trying to control and change it leads to dissatisfaction and body shame. You’ll learn how to respect and care for the body you have now instead of constantly chasing a different one.
9. Movement – Feel the Difference
Stop using exercise and movement as a form of punishment and control. Learn how to get active and enjoy moving your body to feel good. If your relationship with exercise has been as turbulent as it has with food, working on improving your relationship with movement will be a total game-changer.
10. Gentle Nutrition
Lastly– we can focus on nutrition. Focus on eating foods that are good for your health and taste good. This principle helps you look at nutrition from a WIDE lens, considering what you eat over weeks and months instead of micromanaging nutrients each day.
The Bottom Line
You should work through the intuitive eating principles in an order and at a pace that feels good to you. Each principle will help you get closer to feeling confident in your food choices and good in your body.
Often, my clients have started the process but get stuck on making this work in their own lives (AKA the real world). If you’d like extra support as you leave behind dieting and become an intuitive eater, schedule a free consult to see if intuitive eating & nutrition coaching is the right fit for you!