Intuitive Eating 101

What is the concept of Intuitive Eating all about, anyway? When I was in the throes of my food struggles, it would have been one of those things that sounded good in theory, but I was sure wouldn't really make a tangible difference in my life. After all, the main criterion I used to identify potential sources of salvation was how fast they would make me lose weight.

I know now that there is so much more to resolving your relationship with food than weight loss. There are so many reasons we use food -- for comfort, distraction, numbness, to name a few -- and so many ways we have disconnected ourselves from our true desires and biological needs. Intuitive Eating is the path to salvation (totally supported by research!). It's not a straight, or short, or even very flat path...but the destination is always clear, and the progress is reliable.

The Principles of Intuitive Eating were developed in order to address all the different aspects of how we use food, why our relationship with food gets easily complicated, and what we need to explore in order to finally make peace with food. From the way we think about food, to the way we actually eat, to our beliefs about food, to our bodily signals, to finding pleasure in food, to exercising for fun, to gently using nutrition information to guide our choices -- Intuitive Eating is a comprehensive, gentle, accessible guide for the journey back to food peace. And it really works.

Here's an overview of my interpretation of the 10 Principles. (You can find the full version here or in the book, of course.)

  1. Reject the diet mentality -- Learn what you can about how dieting [doesn't] work, and actively work to free yourself from the belief that weight loss is an accurate marker of success or health.
  2. Honor your hunger -- Regain control over your eating habits, prevent the urge to binge, and re-build food security by eating enough, and eating frequently enough.
  3. Make peace with food -- Give yourself full permission to eat without guilt in order to dismantle feelings of deprivation or insecurity which often lead to out-of-control eating.
  4. Challenge the food police -- Recognize and rebel against the myriad of guilt-inducing rules about eating that you've accumulated from dieting over the years.
  5. Respect your fullness -- Eat more slowly and consciously to enable you to recognize fullness and stop eating before you've had too much.
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor -- Attaining satisfaction and pleasure from food is an essential aspect of finding contentment and avoiding cravings/binges/overeating.
  7. Honor your feelings without using food -- Understand when you are using food to avoid directly dealing with emotions, and seek out alternative coping mechanisms.
  8. Respect your body -- Develop a realistic self-image and learn to accept your unique shape and size so that you can have authentic health and happiness.
  9. Exercise--feel the difference -- Use exercise as a vehicle for pleasure, increased energy, and self-respect rather than a form of punishment or compensation for eating.
  10. Honor your health -- Gently incorporate awareness of nutrition and health into your food choices while maintaining a primary focus on pleasure, permission, security, and honoring your body's signals.


Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (1995). Intuitive eating: A revolutionary program that works. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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