The purpose of intuitive eating (IE) is to make peace with food, ditch chronic dieting, and rediscover the pleasures of eating.
Pioneers Tribole and Resch outlined The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating as Reject the Diet Mentality, Honor Body Hunger, Make Peace with Food, Challenge the Food Police, Discover the Satisfaction Factor, Feel Body Fullness, Cope with Emotions with Kindness, Body Respect, Movement – Feel the Difference, and Honor Health with Gentle Nutrition.
While most consumers accept the premise that fad diets do not work, a few myths about IE tend to make it challenging to fully embrace this anti-dieting approach.
Many believe IE cannot help with weight loss. When the mind is clear, emotions are met healthfully, body is relaxed, nurtured, and trust is restored, one is actually in the BEST position physiologically to lose weight. Oftentimes, weight loss becomes a beautiful bi-product for doing the inner work.
Many also believe IE means one can eat whatever they want, how is that good? Eating whatever and whenever one feels like it without regard to hunger and fullness won’t be a loving experience and distorts the premise of IE. IE teaches that our primitive instincts, emotions, AND our rational brain all play a collective role in our eating decisions, not just our impulses.
IE won’t provide enough daily structure is another myth. As we ditch the diet mentality and tune into our body cues, a bio nutritional circadian rhythm appears throughout the day to guide us when to eat. Non-obsessive planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation are still important to ensure food is available when the body calls for fuel within these predictable patterns.
It is feared one will “lose control” without a diet to follow. All IE principles cultivate or remove obstacles to body awareness and body trust, helping detox the mind of past food rules, increase relaxation around food, decrease food guilt, and dissolve the all-or-nothing mentality to help us feel more in control around food.
Others reject IE because they believe they “fail” if they eat when they are not hungry. A healthy relationship with food will still include some occasional eating when we are not hungry. There are times where our instincts, emotions, and rational brain all say to eat something mindfully, even if we are not truly hungry. It’s ok.
Lastly, some claim IE is not science based. More than 125 published studies on IE have been conducted showing the benefits of greater body appreciation, positive emotional functioning, greater life satisfaction, unconditional self-regard and optimism, psychological hardiness, and greater motivation to exercise when focus is on enjoyment.
Ironically, there is not a single long-term study that shows that weight-loss dieting is sustainable. Studies continually show that dieting and food restriction for the purpose of weight loss leads to more weight gain. 96-99% of all people that lose weight on a weight loss diet gain it back within 1-2 years. Worse–the focus and preoccupation on weight leads to body dissatisfaction and weight stigma, which negatively impacts health.