Intuitive eating & every body

By Paige Green, Hy-Vee Dietitian on Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The 10 basic principles of eating intuitively

Intuitive eating is a philosophy of eating that makes you the expert of your body and its hunger signals. Essentially, it’s the opposite of a traditional diet that imposes strict rules about what to eat and what not to eat.

The main goal: Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Not fully convinced? Let’s look at the steps to becoming a lifelong intuitive eater.

1. Reject the diet mentality

Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly and easily. Have they worked thus far? Maybe at first, but dieting always leads you back to square one.

2. Honor your hunger

Keep your body fed with adequate energy (leaving out no food groups), otherwise this can trigger the drive to over-eat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are out the window. Learning to honor this signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.


3. Make peace with food

Call a truce and stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing.

4. Challenge the food police

Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. Food is not good or bad. And you’re not good or bad for what you eat or don’t eat.

RELATED: Ditch the diet and still live healthier

6. Discover the satisfaction factor

When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting, the pleasure you experience will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. You may also find that it takes much less food to satisfy you.

5. Respect your fullness

Just as your body tells you when it’s hungry, it also lets you know when it’s full. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Check in with yourself during meals to see how full you are feeling. You may just end up eating less.

RECIPE: 20-minute creamy pasta with chicken and asparagus

7. Honor your feelings without using food

Emotional eating is a strategy for coping with feelings. Anxiety, loneliness, and boredom are emotions we all experience. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover, but food won’t solve the problem.  

8. Respect your body

Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of 8 would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size 6, it is equally as uncomfortable to have the same expectation with body size. Recognize your body is as capable and beautiful just as it is.

RELATED: How to cultivate a positive body image

9. Exercise and feel the difference

Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie-burning effect of exercise. Find movements that you enjoy and keep you feeling energized, strong and alive.

10. Honor your health

The foods you eat should taste good and make you feel good. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. One meal or snack isn’t going to make or break your health.

PaigePaige Green received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management at the University of Northern Iowa in 2012. She pursued her passion for nutrition at Iowa State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics during the spring of 2015. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Paige truly sets out to educate individuals on finding a healthy balance in life and her passion for people and nutrition inspires clients of all ages. You can find Paige at the Windsor Heights and West Des Moines (Grand Ave.) Hy-Vee store locations.