Why Intuitive Eating?
Susan Hoff
March 14, 2021

Unlearn the harmful habits of suppressive eating and rebuild a healthy self image.

I have slowly been making my way through the common popular diets, providing their backgrounds as well as their pros and cons. This "diet," Intuitive Eating, is a little different than the others. Mostly because it isn't a diet at all. It's a helpful way to steer yourself away from the diet mentality and learn to respect and listen to your body.

The founders of this program, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, wrote the book, Intuitive Eating, in order to help people who struggle with body image insecurity rebuild a healthy self image and find freedom from comparison. They detail out 10 foundational principles to making peace with food and exercise.

While you should definitely read the book to understand the detailed arguments, I wanted to list the 10 principles and hopefully help you re-engage with food and exercise in a healthy way. Keep in mind, this post is not geared towards helping you lose weight, but towards helping you reject the daily negativity you find yourself swirling in and free you from fearing food.

Below are the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

How many diets have you started that promise weight loss that stays off? How many times have you gained most, all, or more weight back on after working your butt off? By the end, you feel like a failure and an overeater. But, what if your body was trying to tell you something, like it's hungry?

Your body has a "set weight point" that it likes to be at. If you tip below that weight, it will think you are entering a famine and try to hold onto the weight you have left, slowing your digestion and metabolism down and cueing your brain to tell you it's hungry. This bodily mechanism was meant to help keep people safe, especially back when famines and starvation were far more common.

The disordered thinking of the diet mentality disorients your body from knowing what it needs. Give it time and you will find yourself back on track towards listening to your body's signals.


2. Honor Your Hunger

Are you eating enough? A drastic diet may have you cutting back too much, which can potentially lead to out of control binges or excessive hunger. Trust your body when it tells you it is hungry. Don't try to suppress it.


3. Make Peace with Food

It's time to give yourself permission to eat. You heard me right. Eat! If you keep rationing your servings and depriving yourself of certain food groups, you can easily begin to feel out of control around food and then guilty for eating so much after you finish—which is much worse for your body than eating a small amount of the "forbidden foods" in the first place.


4. Challenge the Food Police

How many times have you yelled at yourself for eating the "bad" foods and congratulated yourself for eating the "good" ones? If you have ever followed a strict diet, then your mind has most likely created an unattainable goal for eating only certain healthy foods and only a certain amount. Never mind the extra calories you burned or the harder day you've had that requires more food on the plate. Fight these guilt-producing thoughts because they can lead you down the path towards orthorexia.


5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

When you invite yourself to eat the things that you want, you can enjoy them. There is also a greater chance that you will feel satisfied. So often, dieters feel deprived, hungry, and compelled to go back for another snack because they haven't eaten the foods that they really wanted.


6. Feel Your Fullness

You can learn to trust your body's signals. When you feel hungry, you eat. When you feel comfortably full, you stop. We tend to fight against our body's signals, trying to eat as little as possible to get by. But, the more you honor these signals, the better you will feel.


7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness

Ever heard of emotional eating? Or eating your feelings? Intuitive Eating teaches to honor those feelings. Instead of hating yourself for eating when you feel sad or stressed, use it as an indicator or a "check engine" light of your emotional well-being. Thank your body for alerting you to those inward feelings. The more aware you are, the better you can parse through these feelings and the less often you will find yourself in the pantry.


8. Respect Your Body

Everybody has a different body. Just like no two fingerprints are alike. Some bodies don't shrink into size 0 clothing. They are not meant to. But that does not mean that your body is bad or wrong. Embracing your individual shape and setting realistic goals will help you be less critical about the way you look.


9. Practice Joyful Movement

Sometimes we get so in our heads about the intensity of the workout, how many calories we are burning, and the amount of time we are moving each day. While it is good to have these goals, they can sometimes enslave us. Not getting the expected workout in can lead to feelings of failure, unworthiness, and a cycle of anxiety, depression, and self-hatred. It can become a way to punish yourself for eating "too much" or the "wrong thing."

This principle capitalizes on the joyfulness you can find in your workouts. It separates dieting from exercising so that you can feel free to move without the chained expectations of losing weight.


10. Integrate Gentle Nutrition

Feeling healthy can package itself in so many different forms. It is possible to make food choices that satisfy your body's well-being as well as your taste buds. This principle upholds the glory of the marathon mentality. It's not a perfect regimen today, but progress through the months that counts.

Oath & Grind By Susan Hoff
Run fast, spin hard, lift heavy, work out like crazy. Whatever you do, Oath & Grind is the destination for all things fitness, nutrition, and life.
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