The first time I saw the principles of intuitive eating I was completely overwhelmed. I understood them but wasn’t sure exactly how to put those words into action. If you are feeling the same way, don’t worry! I’ve broken down and explained all 10 of the principles and even included tips on how to start incorporating them into your everyday life.
Intuitive Eating Principle #1: Reject the Diet Mentality
The first principle is all about getting pissed off at diet culture. You can start by getting rid of every book, meal plan, and magazine that boasts quick and easy weight loss. Maybe take this a step further and unfollow or mute accounts on social media that are rooted in diet culture.
Next, remember how diet culture made you feel. Did you feel like a failure every time a diet stopped working for you? Or, did you feel guilty for taking a rest day?
Stand strong and let this anger remind you that there is no new or better diet waiting to be discovered. This is the first step towards becoming an intuitive eater.
Intuitive Eating Principle #2: Honor Your Hunger
Keeping your body adequately fed drastically reduces the primal drive to overeat. This sounds simple but if the body reaches a state of excessive hunger, all intentions of mindful or conscious eating are lost. This requires you to listen to the cues your body is providing, something that takes practice and patience.
Try checking in with your body a few times a day. This will help you become more aware of your body’s unique hunger cues. By learning how to honor the first signal of hunger you can begin rebuilding trust in yourself and in food.
Intuitive Eating Principle #3: Make Peace with Food
Giving yourself unconditional permission to eat stops the fight against food. By removing the idea that you can’t or shouldn’t eat a particular food, you drastically reduce the feeling of deprivation from occurring.
This freedom is something that takes time to get comfortable with. Try making a list of your forbidden foods and working through them one at a time. Don’t be alarmed if allowing yourself to eat forbidden foods feels intense or results in a “last supper” situation – this is all part of the process.
Intuitive Eating Principle #4: Challenge the Food Police
Silence the voices that praise and declare you are “good” for eating a minimal number of calories and “bad” for eating a donut. These voices are also known as the food police because they monitor and enforce the unrealistic rules created by diet culture.
These voices live deep in your psyche and can impact what, when, and how much you eat. The first step in silencing the food police is realizing when they are speaking. Try substituting the voice of the food police by placing your own positive spin on the through that came up.
Intuitive Eating Principle #5: Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Being able to fully enjoy food is one of the main goals of intuitive eating. However, the pressure to comply with diet culture overlooks one of the most basic gifts – the satisfaction and pleasure that come with the eating experience.
When you have the freedom to eat what you want, in an inviting environment, you feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and content. This allows you to naturally find just the right amount of food and be able to say when you’ve had enough. Try focusing on the environment in which you eat your meals and see how small changes impact your overall satisfaction.
Intuitive Eating Principle #6: Feel your Fullness
Trusting that you will provide your body with the food it desires is the best way to honor your fullness. Observing your body’s cues or signals will tell you when you are no longer hungry or comfortably full. Again, this self-realization technique requires practice and patience.
To start, try taking a slight pause in the middle of your next meal. During this time ask yourself how the food tastes or try rating your current hunger level. This will allow you to become more familiar with your body’s cues and signals around fullness.
Intuitive Eating Principle #7: Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
Begin by recognizing, and respecting, that emotions like anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger can all trigger a loss of control. In a hope to find comfort and resolve the issues at hand, you may find yourself emotional eating.
Remember that each of these emotions has its own unique trigger, and therefore its own appeasement, but food will not fix any of these feelings. Food may comfort, distract, or even numb you, but it’s only a short-term solution.
Ultimately, you must deal with the source of the emotion. Try writing down a few words or sentences when you feel these emotions come up and notice, without judgment, if any patterns evolve.
Intuitive Eating Principle #8: Respect Your Body
Expecting to fit into a size 6 shoe, when you are a size 8, doesn’t make much sense and if you tried to make that size 6 shoe fit, it would be extremely uncomfortable. Yet, why do we have similar expectations when it comes to body size?
By learning to respect your body, regardless of its size, you start to feel better about who you are as a person. You also prove that diet cultures expectations around weight and body image are extremely unrealistic.
If body image and body respect are something you want to start working on try looking at yourself in the mirror and stating one thing you love about your body. Think about making this statement less about aesthetics and more about what your body can do.
Intuitive Eating Principle #9: Movement – Feel the Difference
By shifting your attention away from the calorie-burning effects of exercise you can begin to focus on how the movement makes your body feel. When you are aware of the types of exercise that feel best for your body movement starts to become fun again.
Try identifying the reasons, or your motivators, for doing movement. If you find these reasons are centered around calories-burned or body image, try reframing your thought process.
Intuitive Eating Principle #10: Honor Your Health – Gentle Nutrition
Confidently selecting foods that honor both your health and taste buds is the ultimate goal of intuitive eating. By understanding that every meal or snack doesn’t have to be perfect you are able to focus on the bigger picture – your overall health.
Be proud of all the work you have done and celebrate what you have achieved on this journey so far. Progress, not perfection, is what counts.
Okay – I know that was a long post, but you made it. Now that you have a deeper understanding of each principle, I encourage you to download my free Guide to Intuitive Fueling. This guide takes the 10 intuitive eating principles and applies them to active lifestyles. Enjoy!