Intuitive Eating, AKA The Anti-Diet: What is it REALLY??


Written By: Lauren Weissman, Dietetic Intern

Reviewed By: Lauren Manganiello, MS, RD, CDN, RYT;  Intuitive Eating Sports Nutritionist and Yoga Teacher

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and we got into the topic of Intuitive Eating.  She is someone who has struggled with yo-yo dieting and weight fluctuation for as long as I have known her.

We were talking about her latest diet venture when Intuitive Eating (IE) came up. Her response to me was that she felt “It’s just an excuse for people to pig out all the time.”

This seems to be a pretty common misconception so I thought it might be important to take a minute to explain exactly what Intuitive Eating is for those of you who aren’t quite sure.

The Intuitive Eating movement was founded in 1995 by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.  Using research rooted in observational studies performed previously on the eating patterns of toddlers, they found that over a week, allowing these children to be able to eat what they wanted, when they wanted, the toddlers would eventually make food choices on their own that would lead them to obtain all the nutrients they needed.

Unlike many adults, these children were too young to have been influenced by diet culture.

Therefore they had not associated any foods as being “good” or “bad”. Tribole and Resch attributed this to the toddler’s ability to eat based on cues from their bodies rather than moral values they had assigned to whatever they were eating.

Moreover, they noticed that the toddlers did not over or under eat.  They ate when they were hungry and stopped when they were appropriately full.

Evelyn and Elyse realized that this research could very well translate to the adult community.  They came up with a list of 10 Intuitive Eating principles to help people heal their relationships with food and their bodies.  They are:

  1. Reject the diet mentality
  2. Honor your hunger
  3. Make peace with food
  4. Challenge the food police
  5. Respect your fullness
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor
  7. Honor your feelings
  8. Respect your body
  9. Movement—feel the difference
  10. Honor your health with gentle nutrition

Intuitive Eating emphasizes gaining a sense of connectedness with your body.  Listening to it and honoring it.

Some days this may mean eating a little more, others a little less.  Sometimes salad, sometimes cake.

The point is, whatever you’re eating, it’s because your body wants it, and that’s okay.