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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Principles of Intuitive Eating

Jun 29, 2020 03:20PM ● By Katta Mapes
The practice of intuitive eating has, at its core, the spiritual dictum written at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, home of the Oracle of Delphi—“Know Thyself”.
This way of eating is built upon learning self-trust, self-care and self-compassion. It invites us to relearn how to eat as a baby does—eating only when hungry and stopping when full.
This sounds so simple, but in the world with a billion-dollar diet industry, this may take lots of discovery and learning in order to integrate their foundational principle of “eat less and move more” with trusting and honoring our bodies’ needs. The plethora of eating fads and trends is dizzying and changing all the time. We are told what to eat, or not; when and how to eat, or not. A current fad is to wear virus protection masks in the kitchen to cover the mouth so that one won’t be tempted to eat.
Intuitive eating involves a new, dynamic way of relating to food and eating. Holly Bryant, Registered Dietitian Supervisor for Health and Wellness at El Rio Community Health Center, in Tucson, is relearning her approach to helping clients with intuitive eating. “It switches the framework from me being the ‘expert’ about nutrition to the client being the expert of their body and finding authentic health on their terms,” she says. “Intuitive eating empowers you to engage in a mind-body integration through curiosity and compassion.”
The following 10 principles of intuitive eating are found in more detail in Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach, by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A.

1: Reject the diet mentality.
Author Tribole says, “The first principle of intuitive eating is to stop dieting—and to stop believing society’s messages that quick-fix plans can deliver lasting results.”

2: Honor your hunger.
Listen to the body’s hunger cues. Become mindful of the physical sensations of hunger.

3: Make peace with food.
When we believe that certain foods are forbidden, there may come a time when we are tempted to eat them. This starts a vicious psychological cycle of thinking that we are bad and feeling guilty because we ate a “bad” food. Intuitive eating encourages a more positive relationship with food and eating.

4: Challenge the food police.
Efforts to control what, when and how we eat can be internal messages from our inner critic. Friends, family and, sometimes, even strangers may try to shame us for our choice of foods.

5: Respect your fullness.
Fullness is another body sensation to which we can build awareness. Maybe we are eating a favorite food. At the point of fullness, we can choose to stop—and tell ourselves that we can have more of this the next time we are hungry. As with learning to recognize our hunger, we can learn to know when the hunger has been satiated.

6: Discover the satisfaction factor.
This mindful practice asks that we pay attention to the food as we eat—the taste and texture of the food, as well as how the body feels when eating this food. “When you can bring the pleasure and joy back to eating, you can truly feel satisfied after a meal and move on and enjoy the rest of your life, rather than continue to eat for other reasons,” says Tribole.

7: Honor your feelings without using food.
Eating to deal with intense emotions takes us away from eating only when hungry and stopping when full. We may need help from a mental health professional to build emotional intelligence skills.

8: Respect your body.
All bodies are different sizes, shapes and weights. Intuitive eating is not specifically a weight loss plan, though we may end up losing pounds because the method encourages us to only eat until full and not to overeat. The more we know our own body, the more we are able to love and accept it as is.

9: Exercise: Feel the difference.
This principle asks us to be mindful when we move our body. Find what movements feel good and are sustainable in the long run because they are enjoyable.

10: Honor your health with gentle nutrition.
Explore healthy foods. Get curious and creative about finding foods and meals that are healthy, tasty and satisfying. This is a practice in finding balance in all food choice.

Both Bryant and her colleague, Wellness Coach Diane Hager, are in the process of certification in intuitive eating with Tribole. This program is available to a full spectrum of health and wellness care practitioners. Hager believes, “Intuitive eating helps me personally look at conflicting food rules and the obsession to be perfect in my eating.” That’s right—intuitive eating means trusting our own body and intuition to know when, what and how to eat.

For more information on certification in intuitive eating, visit
Contact Holly Bryant at [email protected]

Katta Mapes, M.A., M.Ed. is a freelance writer and book author who is dedicated to promoting social, emotional and spiritual well-being for all. She is learning to become an intuitive eater. Connect at [email protected].
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