What Is Intuitive Eating? Here's Everything You Need to Know | Bon Appétit

Listen to your body. Understand the real pain of hunger. Eat when hungry, stop when full.

Have you heard of anyone telling you these things or their version? They were probably trying to force you to practice some form of intuitive eating.

This concept is an important perspective to consider when starting or continuing your career path. If you are coaching clients, understanding this concept is essential.

The term was first coined in 1995 to help healthcare professionals teach people with weight control issues, dissatisfaction with their bodies, and disordered eating habits how to build a better relationship with the food.

The basic principle of intuitive eating is that the body knows exactly how much food it needs per day to provide adequate nutrition and maintain adequate weight. But because of certain social stimuli we learn growing up (i.e. cleaning our plate and eating dessert), we are rigid to those own cues.

Therefore, intuitive eating is a practice of listening to or realizing our inner hunger cues. Intuitive Eating places no limits on the amount or type of food you can eat - unless certain health conditions or allergies require it. The Unlimited philosophy is based on the belief that the body will naturally crave different nutrients.

According to research, numerous studies have shown that intuitive eating is positively associated with healthier eating behaviors, various indicators of psychological health, and may help with weight loss. However, one study claimed that intuitive eating did not promote increased physical activity or was an effective tool for promoting significant weight loss. She was better at keeping the weight off for a long time.

So is conventional calorie restriction more useful than intuitive eating when it comes to developing better eating habits?

To reduce body weight, it is necessary to consume more energy in relation to the energy consumed. Reducing calories to lose weight would therefore be more beneficial than following an intuitive eating paradigm.

In terms of health, one study assessed the eating habits of college students and intuitive eaters and found no significant differences in the number of fruits and vegetables eaten each day, calories consumed from fat, and found that Most intuitive eaters consume either their daily calorie intake or slightly below (4).

Therefore, this review concluded that intuitive eating had no effect on health indicators regarding food choices. However, this review was conducted on a small school-age population and may not be a useful study to compare with larger populations.

When you look at today's diet culture, there is a lot of misinformation and diet fads that only promise short-term success. They don't provide long-term, lasting advice for dealing with real body dissatisfaction and malnutrition. In this sense, intuitive eating is an excellent tool for dealing with the psychological aspects of “eating culture”.

Numerous studies have shown positive associations with satisfaction with body image, lower BMI, and fewer diets and eating disorders. Some research even suggests that intuitive eating can be used as a tool to support positive treatment outcomes in eating disorder clinics (5,6).

Overall, intuitive eating appears to promote positive changes in body image and promote healthier relationships with food. While intuitive eating habits may not be the most cost-effective way to lose weight, they seem to be an important tool for long-term success on all weight loss pathways. Research has shown that intuitive eating is correlated with lower BMI, more positive attitudes toward food, and better health outcomes because intuitive eating focuses on behavioral and psychological changes.

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