What is intuitive eating?

Ever heard of intuitive eating and wanted to try it out? Maybe the thought of it has piqued your interest but the how-to really puzzles you. With diet-culture influencing both our food choices and the way we view our bodies on a daily basis, intuitive eating offers us a big “deep breath” if we let it.

What is intuitive eating?

The concept of intuitive eating was created by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, in 1995. Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach to health that helps us tune into our body’s signals, break the cycle of chronic dieting and help heal our relationship with food. It aims to take away the restriction and revitalize our bodies’ own wisdom.

Naturally, we are born intuitive eaters, without deep attachment, emotion, and pressure around our food decisions. We eat when we are hungry, and we eat until we are full. Some days we are hungrier than others, so we eat more. On other days, we barely remember to eat.

As we get older and take in diet culture, we eat with rules and restrictions around food, losing our inner intuitive eater. We finish everything on our plates, regardless of how full we are because it’s what we are told to do. We begin to reward ourselves with food when we’ve had a rough day or accomplished something because we are shown this in movies and TV shows. We are told that our bodies should look a certain way, and food is the tool to get us there.

Intuitive Eating is not a diet – no calorie counting, macro tracking, yes/no food lists, meal plans or food weighing. Instead, it’s about re-learning to shift our focus on our internal cues like hunger, fullness, satisfaction, and desire – with no guilt!

Our bodies are amazing systems and will tell us everything we need to know if we listen to them. Most of us can get caught up in following food rules, like eating only a certain number of calories or getting in ‘x’ amount of protein. However, if we listen to how our bodies are feeling and bring awareness to this, we can make decisions around our food choices that target how we feel, not necessarily how we look.

Intuitive eating also incorporates having an abundance mindset, as opposed to one of restriction. When we have an abundance mindset, we understand that we can actually eat whenever we want to, not only at certain times when we feel as though we have “permission”. This allows us to find ease in eating until we are satisfied and saving food for later, instead of overeating because we feel like we aren’t able to eat more later.

Intuitive eating can be a very self-empowering way to live. Without external rules, we are the ones in charge of our decisions. It’s about connecting to our bodies in the deepest ways and using ourselves as our own teacher. Some questions to ask yourself while exploring intuitive eating include:

  • How does my body feel?
  • What does hunger feel like?
  • What is satisfaction?
  • How does it feel to move my body?
  • Why am I eating this?
  • What are my habits surrounding food and what I deem as “healthy”?

How we can use intuitive eating

One to the biggest life-changing outcomes from completing the 21-Day Clean Program is understanding what really works our bodies and what doesn’t. This wisdom includes not only what we eat, but also how we live. After doing a revolutionary, foundation-setting cleanse program like the 21-Day Clean Program, we get to start with a clean slate. We’ve allowed our bodies to do some deep healing, repair some damage, and take a break from fighting off inflammation on a daily basis.

Here is where the intersection of intuitive eating and the Clean Program comes in. Without this foundation set and data collected about our own bodies, it can be difficult to tap into the fully transformative effects of intuitive eating. However, after the program, we are much more connected to our mind and body, in addition to not being swayed by sugar cravings, hormonal surges, and old, unsupportive habits. Intuitive eating can be utilized in our everyday life (like everything – it takes practice!), to help us feel calm, empowered, and healthy in our bodies. What we will find, naturally, is that our body loves healthy and nourishing foods.

Trusting your own intuition

When we really strengthen our intuition muscle and listen to our own needs, we will likely be drawn to hydrating fruits and veggies, and lots of colors. If we pay attention to how we feel physically, including energy levels, digestion, and sleep, we notice that healthy foods inherently make us feel better, and we’ll be naturally inclined to eat more of them. As we all know, foods like doughnuts and potato chips often leave us feeling bloated and tired afterward. However, this doesn’t mean that these foods are permanently off the table. With true intuitive eating, if we want a cookie, we eat a cookie!

Naturally, we will find that if our goal is really feeling vibrant, healthy, and at peace, nourishing foods are here to stay.

Written by Hannah Aylward

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