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Understanding Intuitive Eating: An introduction to the 10 principles

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

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The origins of Intuitive Eating

Diet fads change as quickly as the weather. From Weight Watchers, to Whole 30, to Keto, to cleanses... it's hard to keep up.

Whether you've heard of Intuitive Eating or not, you may be skeptical that it's another fad I'm throwing at you. Rest assured. It is not.

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch's book* published the official 10 principles of Intuitive Eating and provided evidenced-based claims as to why Intuitive Eating is the antidote to the harms of dieting.

However, intuitive eating was already in existence.

In fact, YOU were at one point an intuitive eater whether you know it or not!

One reason I love intuitive eating so much is because our greatest intuitive eating teachers are... wait for it... BABIES! Yessss babies!!!!

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As an infant, you are born with an intuitive intelligence that knows when to eat and how much.

You don't have the developmental capabilities yet to pick out which foods to eat, but you know when you're hungry and when you're full in addition to having preferences for some flavors over others.

This skill, this ability, is something that we're often trained-out-of as we grow older.

We're taught to look at ingredient lists and nutrition labels. We are taught to not eat before certain activities or after a certain time of day.

All of this extra information can quickly clutter our minds and take us out of communication with our bodies.

We've become a society that chooses what, when, and how much to eat based primarily on logic and thought alone.

Don’t get me wrong, the brain is incredibly powerful and necessary. But so is your connection to your body, your wants, and your needs.

You've been taught to trust facts more than feelings, but both are necessary for true health and wellness.

As I mentioned, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch* have been two pioneers in the Intuitive Eating revolution. Together they have done countless research studies and solidified Intuitive Eating as an evidence-based practice.


One of the best ways to learn about Intuitive Eating is by following knowledgeable and trustworthy Instagram accounts! Get immediate access to over 50 IG accounts that I've vetted and stand behind!


You may have heard that Intuitive Eating is simply "eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full." Or maybe you've heard that Intuitive Eating is all about "eating whatever you want, whenever you want."

Both of these may be components of your Intuitive Eating journey, but Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch have outlined 10 principles of Intuitive Eating that encompass much more than those two statements!

I've outlined the 10 principles for you below with a super brief description of each one. If you want to dive into these more and get some personalized attention around how to integrate them into your life, be sure to check out my 1:1 coaching!


The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating.

✨Principle #1 - Reject the diet mentality.

The very first step in becoming an intuitive eater is beginning to recognize and challenge any rules and "shoulds" you have around food.

In order to turn inwards and listen to your body, you have to first become aware of and silence the noise of diet-culture around you.


✨Principle #2 - Honor your hunger.

This principle basically says: Eat when you're hungry. No matter the time of day. Even if you just ate an hour ago. Even if you haven't moved your body today.

👉If your body is sending hunger signals, it is an act of care and respect to meet your biological needs.

Intuitive Eating operates under the belief that fear-based restriction of any kind ultimately leads to guilt and/or binges and does not lead to lasting health.


✨Principle #3 - Make peace with food.

This principle expands upon principle #2 and further explores the reasons we fear food and have created an entire mindset rooted in deprivation and rewards.

Making peace with food means that all foods hold equal emotional weight. For instance, eating a brownie creates the same emotional response within you as eating an avocado (the goal would be that neither evokes guilt or judgment).


✨Principle #4 - Challenge the food police.

We all have voices in our heads and different parts of ourselves that show up and run the show. Some voices/parts you may be familiar with are: "Inner critic," "Inner child," "Higher self," "Intuition," "My eating disorder voice," etc.

This principle outlines a series of different voices that might show up in your relationship with food such as the "food police" and the "nutrition informant."

"Challenging the food police" encourages you to develop a new voice in your mind. A voice that talks back and challenges the "diet voice" that has ruled your food choices for so long.

Often time this “diet voice” is the voice of our parents, our teachers, our athletic coaches, or the media that we have internalized over time.


✨Principle #5 - Discover the satisfaction factor.

You are allowed to enjoy food!!! Even encouraged!!

Another downside of dieting is that eating loses its fun factor. Mealtimes become structured and meal plans become law.

But it doesn't have to be this way. We are WIRED to feel satisfied after a meal. This isn't cause for guilt or shame! Intuitive eating views pleasure as an integral part of the dining experience.


One of the best ways to learn about Intuitive Eating is by following knowledgeable and trustworthy Instagram accounts! Get immediate access to over 50 IG accounts that I've vetted and stand behind!


✨Principle #6 - Feel your fullness.

Just as principle #2 says we need to honor our hunger, we also need to feel our fullness.

You will get full when eating. The question is whether you

1) notice this sensation

2) honor it and stop eating.

One of the biggest reasons people don't stop eating when they're full is because they've been depriving themselves of food.

Whether you're eating on a "cheat day" or you're eating a food that's only allowed on "special occasions,' these are both instances of having restrictions around food. Restrictions lead to binges or eating beyond fullness. That's why you MUST implement Principles 1 & 3 before you'll be able to stop eating when you're full.

One of the biggest push backs I get about intuitive eating is something to the extent of “if I just eat whatever I want, I will end up eating the whole cupboard.”

Part of intuitive eating is learning to trust your body and trust that you will reach fullness.

In order to become aware of your fullness, you will need to eat mindfully - pause between bites, remove distractions, and continually check in with your body throughout your meal.

*There are some diseases and medications that can impact this ability and that is worth noting if it applies to you.

One of the best ways to feel your hunger and fullness is with mindful mealtimes! Download my FREE Mindful Eating Checklist to learn how to change your relationship with food right nowwww!


✨Principle #7 - Cope with your emotions with kindness.

A big part of my 1:1 client work is helping my clients discover a wide range of coping skills. Eating to soothe emotions isn't bad or wrong, but it doesn't bode well as your one and only coping mechanism. You want to have a coping skill toolbox. Food can be one tool in there, but it's important you have others as well!

When working with my coaching clients, this principle can bring many tender memories and associations to the surface. If doing your own work with intuitive eating, hold yourself gently and with compassion as you sift through this principle.


✨Principle #8 - Respect your body.

This principle gets into the nitty-gritty of body image. A big message of intuitive eating is that your body is unique, hello genetics, and that there is only so much control we actually have over what it looks like.

A big part of respecting your body is surrounding yourself with body diversity and looking beyond popular media and advertisements where only one body size is represented.


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✨Principle #9 - Movement - Feel the difference

This is my favorite principle because I have never been one to enjoy “typical” forms of exercise like working out at a gym or going for runs.

I LOVE that intuitive eating makes a point to discuss your relationship with movement.

The perspective you have around exercise can make or break its role in your life.

Listening to your body’s wants and needs for movement is just as important as listening to your hunger and fullness cues. And just like with food, your relationship to movement and exercise will flourish when you release the rules and "shoulds" and get in touch with what feels good and makes you happy.


✨Principle #10 - Honor your health with gentle nutrition.

Intuitive eating does not leave everything to the body’s desires alone. Intuitive eating still incorporates nutritional guidelines but with a much lighter grasp.

Intuitive eating recognizes that one meal, whether nutritionally dense or not, does not affect your overall health.

Your health is most notably defined by trends over time and that eating “perfectly” is an unattainable standard.


There you have it! The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating! Be sure to follow me on IG @_chelseahester_ and check out these other amazing accounts below to get more info and education about Intuitive Eating!

* If you purchase books through my Bookshop store, an independent bookstore and I will both get a cut of your purchase!


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