There are 10 key principles of intuitive eating outlined by Evelyn Tribole, RDN, and Elyse Resch, RDN, the two nutrition experts credited with creating the framework.
1. Reject the diet mentality
Say goodbye to the idea that there is a “perfect” way to eat. Instead, focus on addressing the body’s needs. Intuitive eating encourages individuals to avoid diets and restrictive eating rules, which can lead to an unhealthy focus on weight and appearance.
Harris recommends throwing away diet books and weight loss supplements, unsubscribing from weight loss memberships or food tracking apps, and unfollowing social media accounts that promote diets and quick fixes.
2. Honor your hunger
Listen to the body’s signals and give it permission to eat when it is truly hungry. Ignoring hunger signals can lead to overeating or binge eating.
Harris suggests assessing hunger levels throughout the day to highlight differences between subtle hunger, pleasant hunger, and unpleasant or urgent hunger. For many, simply eating at regular intervals throughout the day and incorporating carbohydrates, which are the body’s main source of energy, into each meal can help reduce unpleasant or urgent feelings of hunger, she adds.
3. Make peace with food
Give yourself unconditional permission to eat any food without judgment or guilt. Avoid restricting certain foods as this can lead to overeating and resulting feelings of guilt.
Harris recommends picking a food you currently want to avoid and giving yourself unconditional permission to eat and enjoy it. “Be sure to choose a time when you are not overly hungry, stressed or emotional. Sit down and mindfully notice the aromas and feeling of the food in your body. Check in with your body, thoughts, and feelings before, during, and after eating. Continue this practice with this food until it no longer feels forbidden and you have more confidence in the way you eat it,” she says.
4. Challenge the food police
Stop labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” Instead, focus on nourishing the body in a way that feels good. This principle encourages individuals to let go of deeply rooted moral judgments about food.
“Become aware of the so-called eating rules that pop into your head throughout the day,” says Harris. “Keep a list so you can see how important the food police are in your life and practice challenging those rules one at a time. Where did you first learn it? Is it true? Is it nice? Is it helpful? Then practice rephrasing that thought into something more neutral. For example, you can change the thought “I shouldn’t eat carbohydrates” to “Carbohydrates are my body’s main source of energy and are part of a healthy diet that I can eat and enjoy.”
5. Discover the satisfaction factor
Eating should be a pleasurable experience. Intuitive eating encourages people to experience joy and satisfaction when eating, which often comes from eating what you want, when you want, and where you want it.
“Instead of asking what you should eat, ask yourself what you would like to eat,” suggests Harris. “Then notice all the sensory aspects of that food – smells, textures, flavors and temperatures – without judgment. If possible, take time to eat consciously and enjoyably and perhaps even set the table in a pleasant way.”
6. Feel your fullness
Pay attention to your body’s satiety signals and stop eating when you are satisfied, rather than continuing to eat until you reach a comfortable feeling of fullness. This principle teaches individuals to respect their body’s natural hunger and satiety signals.
“Practice paying attention to what different levels of fullness feel in your body,” says Harris. “After eating, evaluate whether you feel pleasantly or uncomfortably full. “Continue practicing, noticing with an open mind what feels good and what doesn’t, as well as what activities or circumstances help you honor your satiety signals.”
7. Manage your emotions with kindness
Instead of using food as a coping mechanism for emotions like boredom or loneliness, intuitive eating encourages individuals to get to the source of the emotion and find healthier ways to deal with their feelings, such as talking to a friend, journaling, or taking a walk close.
“If you end up eating emotionally, be compassionate and kind to yourself,” Harris encourages. “You’ll build your self-care toolbox and learn and strengthen your coping strategies.”
8. Respect your body
All bodies deserve respect and appreciation, regardless of shape or size. Intuitive eating promotes self-care and body positivity, not a certain weight or body shape. Accept and respect your current body without unrealistic expectations.
“When you compare your body to someone else’s, observe and remind yourself that your body is unique and worthy of respect,” recommends Harris. “Throw away clothing that doesn’t fit, as ill-fitting clothing often triggers a downward spiral in body image.”
9. Movement – Feel the difference
Instead of exercising to just burn calories, intuitive eating encourages people to move their bodies in ways that feel good to them.
“Remember that every movement counts, whether it’s a gentle walk, stretching exercises, or even just a few minutes of activity here and there,” says Harris. “Start where you are and build up your movement exercises slowly, safely and with joy.”
10. Honor your health with gentle nutrition
Intuitive eating encourages individuals to make food choices that take their health and well-being into account without being overly restrictive or compulsive. Find a balance between nutritious and filling foods without imposing strict rules or restrictions on yourself.
Focus on slowly improving nutritional aspects that deserve attention, such as: B. eating lots of plant-based foods, high-quality proteins or healthy fats, recommends Harris. Pick one thing you want to focus on improving, identify two to three steps you can take to improve that area of your diet, and start practicing. Go slowly and remind yourself often that there is no perfect way to eat.