- A weight-neutral approach to health management focuses on behaviors instead of weight-specific outcomes.
- The intuitive eating approach can teach you how to reject diet culture, improve your relationship with food, and nourish your body without feelings of guilt.
- A registered dietitian can help you apply intuitive eating principles to daily life.
Intuitive eating focuses on behaviors at meal times instead of calories, nutrients, and restrictive diet plans. This approach to eating can help you connect with your natural hunger and fullness cues, so you can confidently nourish your body with the foods you love.
In this article, you’ll learn why approaching health through a weight-neutral lens can benefit your long-term health and how intuitive eating can improve your relationship with food.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Two dietitians founded intuitive eating: Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. They started the movement to combat diet culture and the rigid diet protocols marketed in the media.
Research has indicated that their approach to eating has been beneficial for people. A notable highlight of intuitive eating that distinguishes it from other nutrition practices is the combined mind-body approach to eating and the focus on practicing nutrition through a weight-neutral lens. Being weight-neutral means:
- Focusing on behaviors that improve health biomarkers instead of only focusing on losing weight.
- Examples of health biomarkers include blood sugar levels, blood pressure readings, and cholesterol levels.
- Acceptance of your body, shape, and look.
- Rejecting fad weight loss diets or restrictive eating habits.
- Having conversations with healthcare providers that do not focus on weight.
For some people, shifting from an exclusive weight-focused lens can be more beneficial for their health. Studies have shown that weight loss can be temporary, with weight regain occurring within five years. It can be more advantageous for your health to focus on developing behaviors that support long-term results, such as improved blood levels and learning to trust your appetite cues.
Weight Loss and Intuitive Eating
Weight Loss Is Not The Only Indicator of Health
A widespread belief in the medical community has suggested that only weight loss could improve health. A constant focus on weight can deter patients from visiting a medical professional for health issues like migraines, aches, or pains because they fear receiving unsolicited comments about their weight.
The CDC has stated that people who are overweight or who have obesity are at an increased risk for certain diseases. However, some people live in larger bodies, are metabolically healthy, and live disease-free. Although some people may benefit from weight loss, approaching health care exclusively through a weight-focused lens is inappropriate for everyone.
Intuitive eating allows people to approach their health goals without focusing on weight changes or fad diets. The priority shifts to improving health-related behaviors that are proven to influence metabolic parameters. Focusing on actionable and sustainable changes can result in long-term benefits which a fad diet can’t match.
Weight Loss Is Not a Priority for Everyone
Some people do not want to lose weight. Instead, their priority could be making nutrition changes to improve their blood sugar levels or kidney health. An intuitive eating dietitian can help a person achieve these goals.
Nourish offers individualized nutrition counseling covered by the most popular insurance carriers. If you want to learn more about intuitive eating, consider booking a virtual appointment with a Registered Dietitian.
How Can I Start Intuitive Eating?
You can start intuitive eating by embracing the ten key principles that create the foundation for intuitive eating. The principles from the intuitive eating institute are summarized below.
- Reject the diet mentality. Fad diets that promise overnight weight loss results don’t work and can actually be harmful to your health. Turn your back on diet culture once and for all so you can embrace intuitive eating.
- Honor your hunger. Your body needs carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to survive. If you feel hungry, you should not restrict yourself from these essential food sources. Instead, honor your hunger and choose options that appeal to you.
- Make peace with food. Creating food restrictions and telling yourself to avoid a certain meal can enhance your craving. The constant tug-of-war and wanting to eat, but depriving yourself, strains your relationship with eating. Instead, make peace with food and give yourself permission to eat.
- Challenge the food police. Society and diet programs have labeled food as “good” and “bad.” These superficial titles can enhance emotional reactions to eating these foods. If you experience these narratives, challenge them and reinforce that all foods can fit into your diet.
- Discover the satisfaction factor. Choose foods to nourish the body and foods that are also satisfying and enjoyable to consume! Appreciating the taste, color, and overall dining environment can enhance mealtime satisfaction and strengthen your mind-body awareness while eating.
- Feel your fullness. Learn to listen to your body cues during and after a meal for signs that you are comfortably full. How the food tastes can be another indicator (if the appeal is starting to wane, you are likely approaching fullness).
- Cope with your emotions with kindness. Turning to food for comfort may have offered temporary relief in the past, but it's time to address the root source of the emotion. Be gracious and non-critical to yourself as you learn how to manage your feelings without relying on food.
- Respect your body. Accepting your shape, size, and other genetically programmed factors is part of the intuitive eating journey. Learning to respect your body can help you feel happier about yourself overall.
- Movement - feel the difference. Regular movement is important for overall physical and mental health. You don’t have to follow strict exercise programs to get these benefits. Find enjoyable ways to move your body that appeal to you, and focus on the feelings after the movement. You may notice you have more energy, which can help you start the day on the right foot.
- Honor your health through gentle nutrition. A single food choice will not affect your overall health, and you should make choices that satisfy both your taste preferences and health. Gentle nutrition allows you to truly achieve food freedom without feeling guilty about your choices.
Start with Small Steps
Making dietary changes should be exciting, but significantly changing your diet and mindset can lead to burnout. Try to embrace intuitive eating by starting with small changes. Choose a key principle to focus on for the next week or two and take deliberate action to help you apply the recommendations to your daily life.
Unlike most fad diets that follow an accelerated timeline, intuitive eating should be learned at your own pace. You do not need to be a master of intuitive eating by the end of the month. Instead, try to gradually explore this new approach to eating without judgment or self-criticism.
See an Intuitive Eating Dietitian with Nourish
Developing a mind-body connection through intuitive eating can reshape your relationship with food and health. By using this approach, you can successfully meet your health goals without following prescriptive diet plans. Working with a Registered Dietitian trained in intuitive eating practices can help you get there!
Nourish has a team of Registered Dietitians who offer compassionate and comprehensive nutrition counseling. Book an appointment today to start your intuitive eating journey!
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