Frequently asked questions
What is Intuitive Eating?
IE is all about paying attention. Paying attention to your body, paying attention to your physical, emotional and psychological needs. Paying attention to your instinct.
Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch developed 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating in the 1990s. Their ideas were ground-breaking in that they didn’t involve diet plans, cutting out foods or engaging in compensatory behaviours. They said that if we listen to, and honour, what our bodies and minds tell us, we will be attuned to our needs, respond appropriately to cues and live a life without disordered eating, guilt and shame around our eating behaviours and our bodies.
Each principle of IE is an important part of the whole, so it is important that we make sure we understand and utilise each of them. If we neglect one, then another might not work for us or make sense to us.
IE is not a means to an end, it is a process, that will help us develop a healthy relationship with food, our minds and our bodies. It incorporates new understanding around food and weight, helps us to develop respect for our bodies, and has the benefit of improving our health.
What are the 10 Intuitive Eating Principles?
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
This is the foundation: understanding that weight-loss diets don't work long term, and that the diet industry has us hooked with false promises of weight loss and a diet or meal plan that will eventually work. In the meantime diet mentality will make you feel like a failure whenever a diet stops working and you regain your weight. Reject these messages by throwing out diet books and unfollowing diet proponents on social media to free yourself from diet culture for good.
2. Honor Your Hunger
You need to keep your body fed, otherwise a very strong drive to eat will kick in and you are likely to feel out of control around food. Deprivation is powerful, make sure you honour your hunger by listening to your internal signals and feed your body when it needs to be fed.
3. Make Peace with Food
Don't make food the enemy and give yourself unconditional permission to eat. Restricting certain foods can lead to feelings of deprivation, which in turn can lead to cravings and bingeing. Allow all foods into your life, and know that you can eat them guilt-free if you choose to have them.
4. Challenge the Food Police
The food police is the voice in your head that tells you that you have been 'good' or 'bad' for eating something. It uses unreasonable food rules that have been created by diet culture and makes you feel guilty and ashamed for breaking these rules. Reframing your mindset and shutting down that critical voice is super important to moving to intuitive eating.
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Eat what you really desire, take pleasure in eating, eat enough to be comfortably full. Beware of 'air foods' and make the eating experience pleasurable and enjoyable.
6. Feel Your Fullness
Feel into your body, it will tell you when you have eaten enough to be comfortably full. This can be tricky after years of dieting, so be patient and compassionate with yourself. Have frequent pauses while eating and check in to see how the food tastes and how hungry you still are. Don't eat just until you are no longer hungry, eat until you are comfortably full.
7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
Emotional eating is not a bad thing in and of itself. But it may become problematic when it becomes the only way you can cope with difficult emotions. Food won't fix these emotions, even though it might give you a short-term relief. Showing yourself compassion, learning to sit with your feelings and finding ways to work out what you really need can help you cope better.
8. Respect Your Body
Your body has the same right to be respected as every other body. This is regardless of its size, shape, colour, gender or ability. Respecting your body will help you feel better about yourself and will help you free yourself from diet mentality.
9. Movement—Feel the Difference
Shift your focus from calorie-burning to how movement can make you feel. Get active, choose what you enjoy, be intuitive about moving your body. That way you will make exercise and movement sustainable and feel what it can do for you and your body.
10. Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition
You don't have to make perfect choices all the time, but when you become more intuitive in your eating, you will automatically make food choices that honour your health as well as your taste buds. Looking at food intake over time is more important than having a perfectly balanced meal every time you eat.
Will I lose weight with Intuitive Eating?
The simple answer is: No one can tell you whether you will lose weight, gain weight or stay at your current weight. Your body is biologically and genetically wired to be within a certain weight range and will try and stay within that range come hell or high water. With intuitive eating your weight will naturally settle within that weight range.
What does Health at Every Size® mean?
The HAES® movement is best described as a social justice movement, a framework that is inclusive, respectful and supportive to people of all sizes. It celebrates body diversity and honours differences in size, age, race, ethnicity, gender, dis/ability, sexual orientation, religion, class, and other human attributes. It challenges assumptions, both socially/culturally constructed or scientific. I believes in compassion, self-care, and that joyful movement and intuitive eating are creating a better awareness of one's own body and wellbeing.
More information can be found
What is Baby-led Weaning?
Baby-led weaning is a weaning method that allows a baby to explore family foods as they are, without being pureed or mashed and without following any stages. Babies are allowed to choose what and how much of what is offered to them they will eat.
It is different from finger foods (which are often given alongside purées) in that the baby leads the way in their food exploration.
Within reason, babies will eat the same foods as the rest of the family, and they will be allowed to learn, explore and experiment with the food while they are learning to feed themselves.
What are the benefits of baby-led weaning?
There are loads! To mention a few:
The most important one is probably that children are allowed to use their own internal hunger and satiety cues to guide how much they eat. That way they will eat intuitively, which is super helpful in learning when they have had enough or when they need some more food. They also learn to eat a wide range of foods with different flavours and textures and are therefore likely to be more accepting of new foods when they get older. True baby-led weaning will allow babies to say 'no' to something, which makes it more likely that they will try something new (if they know they are allowed not to like it).
In addition to the intuitive eating and less picky eating, they will develop a sense of self-confidence because they are allowed to do something for themselves, and pride in their new-found skills.
And it's fun for both caregivers and the babies themselves!
Why work with a certified intuitive eating counsellor?
Of course you can do intuitive eating on your own. There are tons of books and podcasts out there to guide you along the way.
Working with a certified intuitive eating counsellor might be helpful though as you will be able to unpack things that you may not have considered, get prompts for exploring areas you feel stuck with, have a sounding board for reframing your beliefs and thoughts, have an ally to support you in a world where diet culture is very pervasive and persuasive, and get guidance on where to focus your energy.
An intuitive eating counsellor will help you get unstuck where you feel stuck, find a path where it feels like an impenetrable jungle, and have your back when you are up against diet mentality beliefs from friends and family.
Make sure that you choose someone you feel comfortable with. And check that they truly are aligned with the intuitive eating framework (check their work, blogs, website, social media to make sure they aren't just using the 'intuitive eating' as a buzzword but are really selling you weight loss).
We are often reluctant to spend money on ourselves for therapy, counselling or coaching. But by investing in ourselves for a period of time (and I always stress that I don't want anyone to feel they have been roped into counselling forever, because then I am not doing a good job helping them develop their own personal toolkit for intuitive eating) we can free up so much of our time and energy for things that we really want to focus on in our lives. It's an investment in YOU and you are worth it.