Intuitive eating – is it wise?

To start off the post a big thank you to all those who commented on my last post.  I hope no one was under the impression that I always want everyone to tell me how great and wonderful I’m doing – even if that’s not the case. I want people to call me out on ways I can improve, because constructive criticizm is the only way to really grow and make progress. So thank you all for being here for me, I really DO appreciate your thoughts and insight.

This post is going to be the next in a series of healthy living debates. So as with the so as with the previous post please feel free to share any thoughts or opinions you might have on the matter – because I want to hear your thoughts.
The topic of today’s post is intuitive eating. Honestly this is a topic I still haven’t totally formulated my opinion on, because there are a lot of gray areas for me. For those of you who aren’t 100% familiar with this concept, here are the main 10 priciples of intuitive eating.

10 Principles

1. Reject the Diet Mentality Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.

2. Honor Your Hunger Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.

3. Make Peace with Food Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.

4. Challenge the Food Police .Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created . The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.

5. Respect Your Fullness Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence–the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough”.

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food Find ways to comfort , nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.

8. Respect Your Body Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.

9. Exercise–Feel the Difference Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.

10 Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.

Now these are pretty solid concepts and it’s hard (for me at least) to find something flawed with any of them. But does this concept of listening to your

But does the concept of listening to your body work for everyone, and in every situation? Is it wrong to FORCE yourself to eat even if you’re not hungry, or stop eating before you feel physically 100% full? What about cravings – should you always follow them, even if they affect your body negatively?


The truth is I’m really struggling with this concept right now, because it’s not a black and white area for me. I love the idea of being able to listen to my body, and am trying to apply it as much as I can. But I have abused my body and screwed up my eating patterns so much over the years that sometimes I don’t trust myself to know what I need.  Sometimes I’m not hungry, and yet I force myself to eat, because I know it’s something I HAVE to do. Yes it feels unnatural, wrong and all the rest – but it’s gotta be done. The same goes with often eating more then I’m comfortable with. However I’m occasionally in so much pain afterwards that I can’t help but feel I’m doing something “wrong”  and I feel guilty for not “listening to my body”. Yes the logical part of my brain tells me just to do what I know is right (eating more often, more etc.), but it my body rebels against it so much I second guess myself sometimes.


The same thing goes with craving. I’ve really been trying to do the whole “there are no bad foods” thing, but I’m not sure if that’s wise all the time. For instance I LOVE dairy – cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, ICE CREAM ;), but I am definitely lactose intolerant. I can handle about a serving a day, but that’s about it. Yet I’ve had days I crave it so bad I eat 3-4 servings a day, and suffer A LONG time as a result.  And substituting for lactose free products isn’t really doable in my situation because a) they aren’t available, or b) they’re so expensive that they might as well be unavailable. Also, some foods trigger the urge for me to overeat (yes, I know some of you out there think that’s not a half bad thing for me at this point, but let’s just agree to disagree on this point), and yet I crave those occasionally to – and whenever I give in, I instantly regret it. Some people have suggested I go on the elimination diet to discover what foods trigger my stomach issues, but I’ve been wary before starting out. I don’t want to be restrictive and cut things out of my diet that are needed, but at the same time if my stomach could normalize and it would help me to eat more in the long run – it might be a fair trade off.


Back to the topic of intuitive eating – I think not only people that have disordered eating habits can’t really stick to this concept 100%. For instance obese people – their stomachs are stretched out so much, that for them the feeling of fullness might come after eating way more food then they actually need. Or following their cravings – they might crave junk food all the time and if they just give in all the time, they will be sabotaging their health as opposed to benefiting it.


So where’s the balance? Who does intuitive eating work for, and who doesn’t it work for? Any other thoughts?

(I honestly have no set opinion on this topic, so I’m exited to hear other opinions).



  1. Hey i discovered your blog yesterday when Jenn linked you because of the WIAW.
    So Intuitive Eating is a difficult topic i used to foght with in my head for a long time. I see myself as fully recovered from anorexia and right now i’m keeping my weight at a healthy level with exercise i enjoy. I eat healthy i think but there are a lot of things i fancy and crave too like granola or peanutbutter. But i won’t deprieve myself and i’ve been having an eye on my weight in the last months so i know that however i used to eat – i went up and down around a steady point.
    But before you can RELIE on your idea of intuitive eating – you must have the knowledge.
    It’s a really kind of healthy lifestyle but if you don’t have the knowledge it might sound like :”don’t care about anything concerning food or weight, just live your life”. Well that might be true, but as you pointed out – people who are still sick might miss the point.
    The obese people never will cut bak on the umhealthy stuff and the anorectics will always think “oh i’m already full, i can stop eating right now”
    You just can follow Intuitive eating if you know enough about it –
    And there are not enough people to do so.
    It’s a very happy and naiv way of thinking but if you’ve struggled with an ED and have come through recovery, those 10 point might be useful. IF you are fully recovered.


  2. I think intuitive eating is great once you’re recovered, but you can’t trust yourself and your hunger cues to get you what you need until then. Recovery is really something that tends to go best if someone *else* is holding you accountable and “bossing you around” (like making you eat a big slice of cake when you’d rather not or making you have seconds when you’re full) since your body and mind aren’t in a good place. I think it’s something you can work towards. Oh, and I nominated you for the Beautiful Blogger Award, so you’ll e on my blog on Sunday! 🙂

  3. Thanks for you insight girls. I agree, I think intuitive eating can only really work once you’ve developed healthy eating habits and can “trust” your body again. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Pingback: Portion control? | A new start

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