Intuitive Eating (IE) has been popping up recently in the news and in research studies. I am a supporter of IE and work with clients who are interested in this path. But what exactly is IE and who can it benefit?
Intuitive Eating was developed by two Registered Dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Through their own nutrition practices, they found that diets were not working and thought there must be a better way to help people improve their health and relationship with food without having to follow a specific meal plan or calorie count. IE was born, and follows 10 principles to help clients become intuitive eaters. These principles are based on the 3 core characteristics of IE:
- Eat for physical reasons, not emotional reasons
- Rely on your own hunger and satiety cues
- Give yourself unconditional permission to eat (what, when and how much)
Intuitive Eating is a weight neutral approach. It is not for someone looking to lose weight as their main goal. However, weight loss can be a side effect of following IE. IE helps people become more self-aware, and allows them to tune into their own hunger and satiety cues to guide eating patterns and choices. IE also removes any restrictions or food rules to help clients stop the vicious restrict-binge cycle of eating and be more accepting of their food choices.
We are all born to be intuitive eaters. If you look at infants and children, they eat when they are hungry, and stop when they are full. Sometimes they eat only bread, and other times they will choose vegetables, but overall their eating patterns are stable and well balanced. Societal pressures and dieting have caused us to ignore our own internal cues, and over time we learn to distrust ourselves and our food choices. IE helps to bring that trust back.
I like to think of IE as a self-discovery process. It is a journey with many twists and turns as people get back in touch with themselves and find the things that satisfy them and make them feel good. IE is not a quick fix, so it is not for everyone. However, many of the principles can be used on an individual basis to help clients improve their relationship with food.
If you are interested in learning more about IE, please contact me. There are a number of research studies validating this method and the book “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works” that can walk you through the process.