Intuitive Eating: Approach & Principles

Photo of artichoke and broccoli with a black heart in the middle and the words Intuitive Eating on it

By: Glenda Miranda, CSUN Dietetic Intern Cohort 2021-2023

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if we lived in a world where fad diets and diet culture did not exist? What if we all just listened to our hunger cues and let our bodies be?. Well, that is kind of the concept behind Intuitive Eating (IE) ®. Intuitive Eating is a framework that was first created and introduced in 1995 by 2 registered dietitians, named Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S.¹ Tribole and Resch have extensive training in the realm of eating disorders, as they have each obtained the certification of ‘Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian-Supervisor’ (CEDRD-S). The aim of the Intuitive Eating approach is to help individuals reconnect with their hunger and fullness cues. It is a process in which you rediscover yourself and practice gentle nutrition and kindness with your body.¹ Intuitive Eating has been greatly researched and has proven to have a positive effect on people’s lives.¹  

The Intuitive Eating approach has 10 principles that guide you in the process of self-discovery and help you see past obstacles that keep you from being in tune with your body’s needs. In the following section, we will discuss in detail what each principle represents for those individuals that are interested in practicing Intuitive Eating.  

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating: 

1. Reject the Diet Mentality:  

  • This promotes completely ditching what is known as diet culture. Get yourself to reject any diets or dieting. Come to the realization that diet culture encourages weight loss through false statements and promises.2 

2. Honor Your Hunger: 

  • This encourages the individual to take that first step in honoring hunger and fullness cues, listening for these cues, and feeding one’s body frequently to prevent ravenous hunger. It is as simple as eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. However, it might take some time to really recognize these cues, especially if there is any history of disordered eating or eating disorders.2 

3. Make Peace with Food:  

  • Healing your relationship with food is key during this process. Society labels foods as either “bad” or “good” constantly. It might take some time to detach from these thoughts, and rightly so. However, it is important to learn that all foods can fit into one’s daily intake. We have to trust our body as it knows what to do when we feed it.2 

4. Challenge the Food Police: 

  • Learn to say “no”, when diet culture-related thoughts come into mind. An example of how diet culture is ​​ingrained in us is the fact that we value thinness so much. Thinking that there are “good” and “bad” foods, saying things such as “I was so bad today for eating _____”, and the belief that having a smaller body will somehow make our life better and bring happiness are actually harmful for emotional well-being. These are all beliefs that are created by diet culture.  Food neutrality is acknowledging that there are no foods that have a higher or lesser content of nutrition, and trying to practice this in your daily routine can be beneficial.2 

5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor:  

  • Become aware of what feeling “satisfied” means to your body. What does satisfaction look like for you? Learn that feeling satisfied can be accomplished with a smaller amount than what you might think. Feeling satisfied does not equate to overeating.2 

6. Feel Your Fullness:  

  • Become aware of what feeling “full” means to you and your body. Notice physical cues first and then the emotional ones. Physical cues of hunger are headaches, low energy, inability to focus, and stomach growling/emptiness while physical cues of fullness are feeling sluggish, discomfort in the stomach, no longer enjoying the food, and the disappearance of hunger signs. Strong emotions such as feeling stressed, tired, angry, or sad can create a desire to feel comforted, which can be achieved by eating. The goal is to be okay with how this might feel. We want to recognize physical fullness cues to know when to stop eating since emotions may not be completely soothed with food.2 

7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness:  

  • Realize that emotional eating will not take the pain away. It might help ease the pain in the moment, but sooner or later, the individual will have to reflect on and face whatever is causing pain. Know that it is okay to not be okay, and treating your body right and with kindness is key in the healing process.2 

8. Respect Your Body: 

  • Be kind to your body. Acknowledge the type of body that you are in and treat it with dignity for all it does for you. In the same way that someone with a shoe size of 9 would not be able to fit into a size 5, one should not expect that and shame their body when this occurs, but rather practice body neutrality. 2 

9. Movement – Feel the Difference:  

  • Practice mindful movement and examine what drives you to do physical activity. This encourages the individual to find movement that genuinely feels good to them, and provokes relaxation and happiness. Physical activity should not feel as punishment for eating or be done with the sole goal of weight loss.2 

10. Honor Your Health – Gentle Nutrition:  

  • Moderation is key. All foods fit and it is okay to eat what feels good to you. This won’t affect your body in one or two days. In the long run, it is important to have all varieties of food to provide our body with a proper and balanced nutrition.2 

What Intuitive Eating is Not: 

Intuitive Eating is not a diet, or planning meals beforehand. There is not a “correct” or “wrong” way of doing this approach.¹ There are no rules to follow or food restrictions.¹ Note that it might take some time to get used to or to completely grasp, as society nowadays has made it a “norm” to diet in some way or another. With Intuitive Eating, one does not keep track of calories consumed or macronutrients. There is no tracking of numbers whatsoever for “health reasons”. Each person’s self-discovery process with Intuitive Eating is different and it will vary in time. You are the owner of your body and you know what works best for you. Nonetheless, it might take some time to completely detach yourself from the diet culture that society has so vehemently ingrained in us.¹ 

Intuitive Eating in Research 

Intuitive Eating is based on evidenced-based research. In a study in 2020, the objective was to “examine longitudinal associations of intuitive eating (IE), defined as eating according to internal hunger and satiety cues, with psychological health outcomes and disordered eating behaviors”.3 The study came to the conclusion that Intuitive Eating longitudinally can be the cause of better behavioral and psychological health, meaning that this approach may present a possible solution for decreasing disordered eating behaviors as well as bettering mental health. The prevalence of Intuitive Eating during the 8 years was associated with “decreased odds of high body dissatisfaction, as well as low self-esteem, unhealthy or extreme weight control behaviors, and depression”.  

Find What Works Best For You: 

If you feel like giving this lifestyle approach a chance is something that would benefit you, it would be good to read the book “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach” by Tribole and Resch. Remember, Intuitive Eating is not a diet. It is essentially honoring our body’s physiological and psychological needs. Simply learn to nourish your body properly by following your internal cues. It is completely okay if this process takes time. In the end, only we know how best to take care of our body.   


  1. Tribole E. What Is Intuitive Eating?. Intuitive Eating Blog. February 26, 2020. Accessed October 5, 2022.  
  2. Tribole E. 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating Blog. December 19, 2019. Accessed October 5, 2022.  
  3. Hazzard VM, Telke SE, Simone M, Anderson LM, Larson NI, Neumark-Sztainer D. Intuitive Eating Longitudinally Predicts Better Psychological Health and Lower Use of Disordered Eating Behaviors: Findings from Eat 2010–2018. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity. 2020;26(1):287-294. 

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