Intuitive Eating: What is it and is it right for you?

When something becomes a buzzword in the fitness industry it’s usually because someone found a concept or modality that has incredible purpose and benefit when applied correctly and attempts to take the work out of it to make it “easier” for the general public. Unfortunately that also often robs people of the benefits.
                Ketogenic dieting is a great case in point. Something with great benefits in clinical applications, an ancient diet, and a subject with an incredibly deep pool of knowledge, has been dumbed down to “don’t eat bread or pasta” and thus, has given the now trendy diet, a bad rap.
                Though not as popular as keto (or what people think is keto), intuitive eating is a buzzword that has been twisted from it’s original intention.
                Here’s the run down on what it is, what it isn’t, who it’s for, and who it isn’t:

What it is:

Created by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995, this mind-body approach to eating is guided by their 10 principles, aimed to increased body awareness and increase what is known as interoceptive awareness – being in tune with your body’s signals. Creator Evelyn Tribole says, “Essentially, Intuitive Eating is a personal process of honoring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs.”

Intuitive eating is a weight-neutral empowerment tool meant to change the conversation around weight-loss and diet culture. Tribole and Resch understand that over restriction of food and dieting always leads to weight gain, not weight loss (see references).

Their approach gets to the core of weight gain instead of giving a quick fix and we are here for that! Unfortunately however, their guidelines have been twisted by your “Instagram trainers” and social media “influencers” and some have given this incredible approach to eating a bad reputation. Which brings us to what intuitive eating isn’t.

What it isn’t:

I can’t say it better than Dr. Tribole so I’m not going to try. Here are her words on what intuitive eating is not,

“Intuitive Eating is not a diet or food plan. Period.  There is no pass or fail, therefore there is no “blowing it”, rather it’s a journey of self-discovery and connection to the needs of your mind and body.  There is nothing to count: this includes no counting of calories, carbs, points, or macros.  If a health professional or coach is offering you Intuitive Eating for the purpose of weight loss–run away. Fast.
                There is not a single long-term study that shows that weight-loss dieting is sustainable. Study after study, shows that dieting and food restriction for the purpose of weight loss leads to more weight gain. Yes, weight gain (Rothblum 2018). Worse–the focus and preoccupation on weight leads to body dissatisfaction and weight stigma, which negatively impacts health (O’Hara & Taylor 2018).

Ultimately, you are the expert of your body.  Only you know what hunger, fullness, and satisfaction feels like.  Only you know your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.”

What is often seen by personal trainers and health coaches is the use of intuitive eating as either a lazy way to give nutrition advice or as a way to lose weight, which is exactly the opposite of the intended purpose and strips the approach if it’s incredible value.

Here’s the caveat, if you regain control over your eating habits, mind body connection, and relationship with food at that point, dieting for weight loss can then be effective long term. No more losing weight and putting it back on because you didn’t address the root causes of weight gain.

Who is it for:

If you want to lose weight fast, you’re in the long place. If you want to become the best version of yourself and regain control over you diet, lifestyle, and health, which will allow you to have the necessary mindset and tools to manipulate your food for fat loss, then you’re in exactly the right place.

Intuitive eating is both a stepping stone and a final destination. That means it’s guiding principles can help you regain the control necessary to learn about and pursue fat loss and it also means after years of experience and you’ve achieved your body recomposition goals, you can eat intuitively based on experience and knowledge and maintain your current health & physique.

Who it isn’t for:

If you’re getting ready for a physique competition, wanting to look better for summer, or just have serious body recomposition goals right away, this isn’t for you. That said, we suggest you rethink the “right now” mindset and consider that there has never been a “weight loss diet” that has resulted in fat loss without a serious rebound and subsequent weight regain. Maybe we need to rethink our approach?

Can intuitive eating lead you closer to your goals? It absolutely can but, it definitely isn’t an effective fat loss or muscle building tool. That said, if you want to keep weight off after you lose it, we 1000% recommend this approach first.

We can’t stress enough that intuitive eating is a stepping stone. It is meant to empower you with the right tools to pursue weight training and tracking your food in the future but, without the impending sense of doom if you “mess-up” or “go off track” you’ll ruin your results.

The right resources:

If you want to get started with intuitive eating, just navigate to https://www.intuitiveeating.org/10-principles-of-intuitive-eating/ and follow the 10 guidelines for intuitive eating written by the creator of the approach herself! It’s that easy.

Once you’ve successfully attained all the incredible benefits of intuitive eating (it may take 6 weeks or a year), it’s time make the changes that drew you here in the first place. This is where Uplift Fitness’ free guides and workout programming comes in. Find them at www.upliftfitnessohio.com/shop

 

References:

O’ Hara L and Taylor J. (2018) What’s Wrong with War on Obesity? A Narrative Review of the Weight-Centered Health Paradigm and Development of the 3C Framework to Build Critical Competency for a Paradigm Shift. SAGE Open: Apr-June: 1-28. doi.org/10.1177/2158244018772888

Rothblum E. (2018). Slim Chance for Permanent Weight Loss. Archives of Scientific Psychology:6, 63–69. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/arc0000043

Tribole E. (2017). Intuitive Eating: Research Update. SCAN’s Pulse. 36(6):1-5.

Tribole E and Resch (2013). Intuitive Eating, 3rd ed. St. Martin’s Press: NY, NY.

Tribole E and Resch (2017). Intuitive Eating Workbook: 10 Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food. New Harbinger: Oakland, CA.