Intuitive eating is an integrative mind-body approach to honor your health. It’s made up of 10 principles that help you listen to your body, develop body respect, and implement nutrition for the right reasons. Emphasis is placed on the cultivation of health-promoting behaviors versus weight control.
As intuitive eating gains traction in mainstream media, there’s confusion around what it means. Is it a diet? Will I gain weight? I just eat whatever I want, right? As a non-diet dietitian who provides nutrition coaching through this lens, here are the most common intuitive eating myths I hear.
3 Common Intuitive Eating Myths
Myth #1. It’s the hunger and fullness diet.
Intuitive eating teaches you to listen to your internal cues around hunger and fullness. Using the Hunger Fullness Discovery Scale, you’ll learn how to distinguish between over-hungry, target eating range, and overfull. However, this does not translate to “eating only when hungry, and stop eating immediately when you feel full.”
The Hunger Fullness Discovery Scale is a tool, not a rule.
Intuitive eating honors that we eat for reasons beyond just biological hunger. We aren’t robots! Sometimes we eat for satisfaction – like enjoying a brownie because it hits-the-spot. We also eat for emotional reasons – such as drinking champagne to celebrate. Additionally, our schedules might force us to eat by planned hunger. For example, eating lunch at 11 am even though you aren’t hungry yet because you know you have back to back meetings from 12-3 pm.
Intuitive eating honors eating for reasons beyond biological hunger. Plus, Intuitive Eating isn’t a diet.
Myth #2. You’re going to gain weight.
Intuitive eating isn’t a diet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to gain weight. You might lose weight, maintain weight, or gain weight. But that’s not the point. Instead, the focus is placed on cultivating health-promoting behaviors that you actually have control over!
Focusing on weight loss will interfere with your ability to improve your relationship with food. Think about it. When you weigh yourself, does the number you see affect your eating choices for the rest of the day? Let’s say you lost 2 lbs, so you think “yay – I can have a cookie now” when 30 seconds earlier you didn’t even want a cookie. That’s not very intuitive – is it? Or let’s say you gained 1 lb so you think “ugh- I shouldn’t have my afternoon snack even though I’m starving.” That’s not honoring your hunger.
If you’ve been undereating, intuitive eating could result in weight gain. If you’ve been overeating, intuitive eating could result in weight loss. We don’t know for sure. The bottom line: your body will return to its happy set point weight (with some natural fluctuation).
Myth #3. Nutrition doesn’t matter.
Another key principle of intuitive eating is that all foods fit. But that doesn’t translate to nutrition doesn’t matter. Instead, intuitive eating takes us back to nutrition basics, without the noise of diet culture.
Diets promote nutrition in black-and-white terms providing a list of “eat this, not that.” This perpetuates the pass-fail mentality that’s never sustainable. I don’t know about you, but “never eat cookies again” seems unrealistic to me.
Intuitive eating helps us relearn nutrition basics without the black-and-white influence of diet culture. Intuitive eating asks us to take into account how certain foods make us feel. For example, I love chocolate chip cookies, but I know that if I eat more than a few I get a headache. Also, I love pasta, but I’ve learned that I feel most satisfied when I add some veggies and protein to the meal. This is how I take nutrition into account when making meal and snack choices.
Which myth (1,2, or 3) surprised you the most?
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If you’re looking for support integrating intuitive eating into your health goals, schedule a free discovery call today. The Everglow Method will help you make peace with food, take the stress out of eating, and discover a long-term solution to better health. What are you waiting for?