Struggle with your relationship with food?

Maybe Intuitive Eating is the answer

By Karli Bies, RDN

We live in a world full of diet messages, telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat, what’s “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” and to “love your body, but only after you’ve lost weight.” A coworker is doing Whole30. Your mom is trying Weight Watchers, and your Facebook friend is telling you to try Keto so you can lose 20 pounds just like she did.

Fad diets will be a separate article altogether. Today, I’m going to share a different way of thinking about food and our relationship with it.

Maybe you’ve tried a diet to no avail, or you feel out of control around food. If this sounds familiar, Intuitive Eating could be just the thing for you. I will say this upfront: Intuitive Eating is not a way to lose weight. It will, however, help you listen to your body’s hunger cues, to appreciate your body at any size, and hopefully make you feel completely at ease with eating.

This concept was created by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, and it can be boiled down to 10 basic principles.


Reject the Diet Mentality: Get rid of any and all dieting lies. You don’t deserve to believe you are the one failing every time your diet doesn’t work. Ninety-five percent of diets DO NOT WORK.

Honor Your Hunger: We’ve been taught to only eat at certain times, whether we’re hungry or not. If you can tune into when your body is biologically hungry and feed it enough carbohydrates, protein and fat to nourish it, you won’t find yourself ravenous and overeating because you restricted yourself when you were actually hungry.

Make Peace with Food: Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. When you say, “I can’t,” there’s a sense of deprivation which often leads to craving and even binging on those foods.

Challenge the Food Police: Get rid of that voice in your head that says you’re being “bad” for having one kind of food or “good” for eating another. NO MORE! Food is nourishing for the mind, body and soul and there’s no need for the good or bad label with Intuitive Eating.

Respect Your Fullness: Listening to your body for fullness cues is just as important as listening for hunger cues. Your body can tell you when it's full, so stop halfway through a meal and ask yourself “Am I still enjoying this?” and “Am I full?”

Discover the Satisfaction Factor: We have all been told to eat certain foods to be thin or healthy, whether we enjoy them or not. Our brain has a pleasure center that many people don’t experience often because they don’t allow themselves permission to eat all foods. Pleasure and satisfaction are important parts of a healthful life, so why wouldn’t we want that from our food?

Honor Feelings Without Food: Rather than using food, can you get down to the emotion that is causing the feelings and resolve them? This doesn’t mean we don’t allow ourselves to eat for emotion from time to time. Whether we turn to food to comfort us or to celebrate a happy moment, food is emotional and can nourish in many situations, but shouldn’t be our only solution.

Respect Your Body: Intuitive Eating is hard if you are over-analyzing your body size or trying to lose weight. Your body has a set point that it feels best at, and it’s time to accept it and feel good about this body you were given.

Exercise and Feel the Difference: Change your exercise focus from losing weight or burning extra calories to eat. Rather, exercise to move your body and understand how energized it makes you feel. Whether you take a brisk walk or challenge yourself with CrossFit, move in a way that brings YOU life!

Honor Your Health: The nutrition you take, the exercise you do, the emotions and feelings you work on, all come together to create your overall health and wellbeing. Tread gently and remember that a perfect diet doesn’t equal perfect health. One meal will not change your overall health, so let’s focus on a long-term relationship with ALL foods to nourish your body.

 Now, this may seem like a lot, and it is! Intuitive eating is something that will take time and work, and maybe even require the help of a professional or an online course led by a dietitian trained in Intuitive Eating. Hopefully, you noticed there aren’t any strict rules here. The can/can’t have mentality is what results in only 5 percent of diets working.

What could you do with your life if you freed up some of that space and time you’ve spent worrying about dieting, food or your weight? I’d hope you could look back and remember those good memories rather than what you couldn’t eat or what weight you were that day.

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT INTUITIVE EATING and dive into the technique, start with the book “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Visit their website for all kinds of resources including insightful podcasts to learn more.

QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS on what you’d like to see here for our in-house dietitian? Feel free to email Karli at

More from YVW