2 October 2012 Principles of Intuitive Eating

I am always looking for good books on weight control for my patients and I have definitely found one with Intuitive Eating, Third Edition by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Getting away from a narrow focus of eating solely for weight control, these authors remind us that eating needs to meet multiple needs, with satisfaction being one of them.

To whet your appetite for a sane approach to weight control and eating, here is a brief summary of Tribole & Resch's ten principles of intuitive eating:

Principle 1: Reject the Diet Mentality

Get past the notion that there is a specific diet out there that will allow you to lose weight quickly, easily, and forever.

Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger

Don't go hungry – feed your body with appropriate energy to avoid the urge to overeat later.

Principle 3: Make Peace with Food

Stop identifying foods as good or bad and refuse to buy into deprivation.

Principle 4: Challenge the Food Police

The "food police" are not dietitians or people outside of you – it is your own negative inner voice. Put it on mute.

Principle 5: Feel Your Fullness

Have you lost the ability to tell when you are no longer hungry? Do you eat until you are stuffed to feel "satisfied?" Comfortably full is the goal – not stuffed.

Principle 6: Discover the Satisfaction Factor

Do you include pleasing foods and eating environment as part of your meal? Consider that satisfaction and contentment with eating is not just about calories, fat, protein, or carbs content.

Principle 7: Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food

How often do you use food to handle anxiety, loneliness, boredom, or anger? Refusing to self-medicate with food will help you get past overeating and the accompanying shame.

Principle 8: Respect Your Body

Are you realistic about your weight goal and desire to change your body shape? There are limits to what we can do by lifestyle, weight loss, and exercise. Love your genes!

Principle 9: Exercise – Feel the Difference

Be more active to feel better, not just to lose weight. This will help motivate you to move more on a daily basis.

Principle 10: Honor Your Health – Gentle Nutrition

You don't need to be a perfect eater. Strive for a harmonious balance between eating food that nourishes you, supports your health, and yet still provides flavor and satisfaction.

Does intuitive eating work with food tracking? I would argue that it does. I practice intuitive eating but I also check to see how my choices affect my calories and nutrient intake. I use calories-counting data the way a professional dancer or football player might use video of a performance or play – to analyze what happened and to brainstorm better or more effective choices for the next time. Food tracking is an effective awareness tool and I consider it part of skills-based learning. You can use trackers to plan meals so that you can relax and experience them fully without thinking about "what fits" or tracking can be employed after a meal to see the nutritional "results" of how you implemented an intuitive eating approach. Why not take advantage of multiple tools to help you meet your goals?

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Weight Loss/Emotional & Mindful Eating

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