Why Intuitive Eating Isn’t Working For You


Are you someone who believes intuitive eating hasn’t worked?

Intuitive eating is a non-diet principle, which means it is not a diet.

Intuitive eating is a way of eating that helps people to heal and improve their relationships with food and body.

Intuitive eating involves stopping dieting behaviours such as counting calories and macronutrients, weighing food and your body and so on. It supports people to tune, honour the body’s signals and ultimately trust their body again.

Freedom from guilt and judgment associated with food and eating comes from really trusting your body.


In addition, intuitive eating supports people in:

  • adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being rather than for weight control.
  • the focus on health instead of weight. It’s not that weight loss is bad, or good, it’s simply a side effect of developing a healthy relationship with food, activity, and a healthy body image.
  • nourishing bodies by paying attention to hunger and fullness cues to guide eating.
  • finding pleasure in food and satisfying cravings – trusting that your body naturally craves a variety of foods.
  • movement, being active not to lose weight, but because it feels good and has many positive health benefits.
  • promotes a positive body image and seeing weight and body shape/sizes as another key component of diversity (just like body height, skin colour, and hair colour).
  • prioritise self-care and practice self-kindness.


Here is what the research is saying that intuitive eating can do:

  • Stabilises weight by 5 years after some weight fluctuations.
  • Improves blood pressure, cholesterol and cortisol levels.
  • Improves intuitive eating behaviours and dietary quality, increased self-esteem and sustained movement routines (Tylka et al, 2014).


Why intuitive eating isn’t working for you:

The number one reason why intuitive eating doesn’t work is that intuitive eating is not a weight loss strategy or diet……in actual fact, no way of eating or diet ‘works’ for weight loss.

Ask yourself what you mean by ‘work’. Most people see a way of eating as ‘working’ if weight loss occurs.

Many people turn intuitive eating into a diet because they don’t know any different and continue to focus their attention on what their weight is doing, eating healthy and beating themselves up when they feel like they have ‘fallen off the wagon’. In other words, if you are basing your decisions on your weight and feeling like you have messed up intuitive eating, worrying about the nutrition content of food, you have turned intuitive eating into another diet.

You will get the full benefits of intuitive eating when you put aside your weight loss goal and your concern around whether you are eating healthily.

Working on the 10 intuitive eating principles are important steps in making peace with food and improving body image.

Here are the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating as taken from the author’s Intuitive Eating book (aff link) (Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch).

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.

2. Honor Your Hunger

Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.

3. Make Peace with Food

Call a truce, 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 When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.

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. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created. The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.

5. Respect Your Fullness

Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence–the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough”.

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food

Find ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. 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. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.

8. Respect Your Body

Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.

9. Exercise–Feel the Difference

Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.

10. Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition

Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.”

Intuitive eating takes time and lots of practice. The process of leaving dieting and food and body preoccupation behind is a gradual process.

For support with intuitive eating, please contact me, or if DIY is more your style, grab a copy of ‘30 Days to a Better Relationship With Food and Body’ ebook.


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