Intuitive Eating: What Is It?

She received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development from Cornell University, and her Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, where she also completed her dietetic internship. In her private practice, Nicole Groman Nutrition, Nicole helps you reconnect with your body. She encourages prioritizing your body over your mind, having faith that your body will tell you what it needs, what it doesn’t, when it’s had too much, or if it hasn’t had enough. She’s been quoted in Vogue, Women’s Health, and Well+Good. Check out her work and learn more here.

Intuitive Eating: What Is It?

Intuitive eating is based on 10 principles that aim to help people develop a healthy relationship with food, mind, and body. These principles were created by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, who wrote the book “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.”

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:

1. Reject the Diet Mentality: First principle of intuitive eating is to reject the diet mentality. Stop viewing food as good or bad and stop following restrictive diets that promise quick results.

2. Honor Your Hunger: Second principle is to honor your hunger. Listen to your body’s hunger signals and eat when you’re hungry.

3. Make Peace with Food: Third principle is to make peace with food. Give yourself permission to eat all types of food without guilt or shame.

4. Challenge the Food Police: Fourth principle is to challenge the food police. Stop negative self-talk and stop judging yourself for what you eat.

5. Respect Your Fullness: Fifth principle is to respect your fullness. Listen to your body’s fullness signals and stop eating when you’re full.

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor: Sixth principle is to discover the satisfaction factor. Find ways to make eating enjoyable and pleasurable.

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food: Seventh principle is to honor your feelings without using food. Understand your emotions, greet them with curiosity and acceptance, then cope without turning to food.

8. Respect Your Body: Eighth principle is to respect your body. Accept your body as it is and stop trying to change it. Your body stands out as the most intelligent and efficient system ever studied by humans. It surpasses the intricacy of rocket ships, electric cars, and computers. Its astonishing beauty becomes even more apparent when practicing body neutrality. This approach allows you to find that paying attention to body signals and cues becomes a more manageable task.

Intuitive Eating

9. Exercise – Feel the Difference: Ninth principle is to exercise and feel the difference. Move your body and take note of what feels good and energizing. Don’t obsess over ‘burning off’ calories; it doesn’t work, anyway. Instead, observe how exercise and movement can positively impact your mood, attitude, and mindset. It can also improve your sleep and bring about a host of other wonderful changes.

10. Honor Your Health: Tenth principle of intuitive eating is to honor your health. This making food choices that honor your health and wellbeing without feeling guilty or deprived. Gentle Nutrition reintroduces nutritional science once your relationship with food has further healed through the above steps and principles. This approach emphasizes a gradual and mindful incorporation of nutritional knowledge.

The Clinical Evidence Supporting Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating (IE) is supported by a growing body of research, demonstrating its effectiveness for both physical and mental health. A 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that IE is linked to a lower body mass index (BMI), improved self-esteem, and enhanced body image. It’s important to note that, at Way, we do not endorse BMI, as it can be highly misleading.

In a separate study from the International Journal of Eating Disorders, researchers identified a connection between intuitive eating and improved psychological health, as well as a reduced risk for disordered eating behaviors. A 2020 study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics revealed that Intuitive Eating is associated with improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and other markers in college students.

Additionally, a study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that Intuitive Eating is linked to higher levels of physical activity and lower levels of disordered eating behaviors among young adults.”

This revision breaks down the information into shorter, more digestible sentences while maintaining the original meaning and context.

More Studies Supporting Intuitive Eating

In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, researchers found that individuals who practiced intuitive eating reported enhanced self-esteem and a more positive body image. Another study, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, indicated that engaging in intuitive eating is associated with improved psychological well-being and a reduced risk of participating in disordered eating behaviors

Research has also shown that Intuitive Eating can have positive effects on mental health In a 2018 study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, researchers discovered that Intuitive Eating correlated with reduced anxiety and depression levels in college students. Similarly, a separate study in the American Journal of Health Education indicated that IE was linked to elevated self-esteem and greater body appreciation.

Intuitive Eating as a Mindful Eating Journal

Intuitive eating aligns with the theme of creating an interactive, mindful eating journal that naturally happens from exploring questions socratically around the relationships with food and the body. By following the ten principles of intuitive eating, you can develop a healthy relationship with food and your body. At Way, intuitive eating meets behavior science, encouraging mindful eating and real results. In fact, 73.5% of Way app users notice they are thinking differently about how they eat or are actually eating differently (i.e. at the grocery store or restaurant), in the first week.

The mindfulness approach that Way brings to intuitive eating can have a transformative impact on how we relate to food and our bodies. By focusing on the present moment and cultivating a sense of curiosity and non-judgment, we can begin to unravel the complex web of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that shape our relationship with food. This can involve exploring questions like: What does hunger feel like in my body? How does my body respond to different foods? What emotions or situations trigger me to overeat or eat in a way that doesn’t feel good to my body?

Self Inquiry and Exploration Are A Part of Intuitive Eating

Through this process of self-inquiry and exploration, we can begin to develop a deeper understanding of our bodies and our needs, and cultivate a greater sense of compassion and respect for ourselves. Rather than trying to force ourselves to adhere to rigid rules or external standards of “health,” we can learn to trust our bodies and honor their natural wisdom and intelligence. This means tuning in to our internal cues of hunger and fullness, as well as being mindful of our emotional and environmental triggers around food.

One powerful tool for cultivating this kind of mindfulness is the interactive, mindful eating journal that is at the heart of the Way app. By going through sessions in three Pathways (Body Feels, Emotional Eats, and Mindful Shifts), hunger and fullness levels, and emotional responses to eating, we can begin to see patterns and insights emerge. We can also use the sessions in Way to set intentions and goals around our eating behaviors, and to reflect on our progress and challenges along the way.

Intuitive Eating and the Way App

The Way app acts as a digital journal and offers abundant resources and support for cultivating a healthier, more intuitive relationship with food. It provides guided meditations, mindfulness exercises, and three Pathways guiding observations about your relationships with food and your body. The app fosters a supportive community of fellow members and intuitive eating Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) sharing a common mission: creating a future without restrictive diets. By combining intuitive eating principles with Way’s behavior science and mindfulness techniques, we create a powerful, sustainable approach supporting overall health and well-being.

In conclusion, the synergy of intuitive eating and Way offers a unique and potent approach to fostering a healthy, sustainable relationship with food and our bodies. Integrating intuitive eating principles with Way’s behavior science and mindfulness techniques helps us better understand our bodies’ needs. This enables us to nourish ourselves in a way that feels genuinely satisfying and sustainable. Whether overcoming disordered eating or enhancing your relationship with food, incorporating these principles into daily life can lead to greater health, happiness, and well-being.