Intuitive Eating for Improved Health and Wellness

Woman eating red grapes
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexe

By: Haley Singer, Undergraduate Student in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign,

What is Intuitive Eating?

As Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S explains, “Intuitive Eating is a self-care eating framework, which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought and was created by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995”.

Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach to establishing a healthy relationship between the mind and body.

Potential benefits of intuitive eating1

  1. Improved physical and physiological wellness
  2. Reduced risk for developing eating disorders
  3. Reduces the arrival of chronic diet-related diseases (i.e. obesity)
  4. Protects people from unhealthy weight control behaviors

10 Principles of Intuitive Eating2

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
    Let go of the hope that the newest fad diet will be effective at inducing quick weight loss. There is no sustainable way to lose weight quickly.
  2. Honor your Hunger
    Keep your body fed with nutritious foods. In order to do this, eat when you are hungry to avoid overeating later on.
  3. Make Peace with Food
    There are no inherently “bad” foods. Restricting yourself from having certain foods can lead to uncontrollable cravings, overeating, and feelings of guilt later.
  4. Challenge the Food Police
    Let go of any food rules you have created for yourself. The food police will make you feel “good” for restricting yourself or “bad” for honoring your cravings.
  5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
    Eat foods that you enjoy and make you feel good. Ask yourself what you really want to eat. Think about the flavors and textures of foods you desire.
  6. Feel your Fullness
    Pause in the middle of your eating to observe your hunger level. When you feel satisfied trust your body and stop eating. Get comfortable listening to your body’s hunger and satiety cues.
  7. Cope with your Emotions with Kindness
    Food will not solve emotional problems. Deal with your emotions separately from food and be gentle with yourself.
  8. Respect your Body
    Find appreciation for your body and everything that it does for you. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to health. Everybody is different and unique and deserves to be respected.
  9. Movement
    Move your body to feel good and energized. Notice how different it feels to focus on moving your body to feel good and don’t worry about how many calories you burned or miles you ran.
  10. Honor your Health
    There is no perfect way of eating. Choose to eat foods that respect your health while honoring your taste buds.

Intuitive Eating for Military Families:

Veterans may be at an increased risk for eating disorders(EDs) due to past traumas and mental health comorbidities..3

Physical pain also represents an important barrier for weight loss. And while both men and women are affected by EDs, women make up the majority (of reported incidences)..3

Eating disorders are underscreened among this population so the prevalence may be higher than what is estimated.

Eating disorders are common in veterans with overweight/obesity(OW/OB) as the military environment may increase the risk for both EDs and OW/OB.3

Intuitive eating can be used as an intervention approach for veterans with EDs. It can help induce body positivity and a healthy relationship with food to reduce the risk for the development of EDs or OW/OB in veterans.

 

References

  1. Cadena-Schlam, L., & López-Guimerà, G. (2014). Intuitive eating: an emerging approach to eating behavior. Nutricion hospitalaria, 31(3), 995–1002. https://doi.org/10.3305/nh.2015.31.3.7980
  2. 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating. https://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/. Published December 19, 2019.
  3. Cuthbert, K., Hardin, S., Zelkowitz, R., & Mitchell, K. (2020). Eating Disorders and Overweight/Obesity in Veterans: Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Treatment Considerations. Current obesity reports, 9(2), 98–108. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-020-00374-1