Intuitive Eating

August 19, 2019

Many dietitians will explain that they “don’t like diets because diets don’t work”, therefore they prefer clients and patients to follow intuitive eating. Unfortunately the term ‘Intuitive Eating’ doesn’t necessarily translate to the population.


Intuitive eating is really just the act of listening to your body and feeding it what it not only wants, but what it deserves. Intuitive eating sounds lovely, allowing the “all foods fit” theory work; but practicing is easier said than done.


Basic knowledge of the foods we should eat is key; but outside of that, there are no hard and fast rules just helpful guidelines. Feeding yourself nourishing meals comes first, it’s respect for your physical being. Along with that concept, it’s about being nice to yourself; there is no hateful internal dialogue and words are chosen carefully to be supportive. Using phrases such as “you are doing great” or “you’ve got this” are two good examples, essentially you are your own coach.


Eat when you are Hungry, stop when you are Satisfied

The trick is to eat slow enough, savoring the food you have in front of you, which doesn’t work well when you are ravenous. Many people will be driven by the clock to eat or they will feel bad that they are hungry when ‘it’s not time for a specific meal.’ No two days are going to be the same, therefore we need to feed our body according to what it’s asking for. The hunger scale helps significantly here, if you don’t already know your hunger cues, start paying attention at regular meal times. For some, their stomach may start growling, for others their stomach may start to ‘feel warm’. For additional information about the hunger scale please see image below.





Hydration status can be misleading

Most people have stopped being able to understand when they are thirsty rather, it is often understood as hunger. This is not to say you need to “fill up on water” considering that excess water can cause issues such as electrolyte imbalances. Ideally, you should drink an appropriate amount of water throughout the day; take your body weight in pounds and divide it in half; that’s how many ounces you need per day. If you are very active, you need to consume 75% of your weight in pounds, and drink that many ounces.



Initially this concept is challenging for many hard-core dieters. Treats can always be a part of a healthy diet; however some tactics may help: Once you embrace “all foods fit” and allow yourself to have a treat, it’s time to slow down and refrain from gobbling it up. Take one bite and see how the food tastes, notice the texture, is it crisp, spongy, gooey? Is it a cold brownie that doesn’t have much flavor, and should you wait until it comes to room temperature? Is the sweet roll greasy, coating your mouth with film, or is it soft and buttery with a decadent filling? If the dessert or treat does not meet your needs, it’s okay to discontinue eating it but If you are enjoying it then that’s a good reason to continue. Remember, stop when you are full or no longer taste it, it can always be consumed later.


Hard to follow Intuitive Eating when eating out

It’s not a surprise that restaurants generally serve huge portions. When you are faced with oversized plates and a large group of people, it’s simple to eat past the point of satisfaction. Either dividing your plate a bit or reducing the frequency in which you dine out may help. As much as this diet doesn’t focus on calories, a king sized burrito with a side of chips and guac is going to be a calorie bomb and hard to stop eating.


Children have been practicing intuitive eating since birth, it’s not until they are tweens where they start to eat un-related to hunger. Take a few lessons from the kids in your life and try out intuitive eating for yourself.  If you need help, please reach out and one of the friendly dietitians on staff will be happy to coach you through the process.

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