Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body--where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom. It's also a process of making peace with food---so that you no longer have constant "food worry" thoughts. It's knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as "bad" or "fattening”.
The underlying premise of Intuitive Eating is that you will learn to respond to your inner body cues, because you were born with all the wisdom you need for eating intuitively. On the surface, this may sound simplistic, but it is rather complex. This inner wisdom is often clouded by years of dieting and food myths that abound in the culture. For example, “Eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full” may sound like basic common sense, but when you have a history of chronic dieting or of following rigid “healthy” rules about eating, it can be quite difficult. To be able to ultimately return to your inborn Intuitive Eater, a number of things need to be in place—most importantly, the ability to trust yourself!This approach to food is explained in detail in a book I am currently reading, "Intuitive Eating" by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA. Unfortunately, I had to stumble upon this definition through trial and error, my dietetic education, and good council. Even though I eventually came to this philosophy, a Dietician I was fortunate to know gave me this definition of normal eating that helped free me of the "dieting mentality" and steer me toward intuitive eating, long before I knew it had a term:
Definition of “Normal” Eating
Normal eating is being able to eat when you are hungry and continue eating until you are satisfied.
It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it--not just stop eating because you think you should.
Normal eating is being able to use some moderate constraint on your food selection to get the right food, but not being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods.
Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good.
Normal eating is three meals a day, or it can be choosing to munch along the way.
It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful when they are fresh.
Normal eating is overeating at times: feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. It is also under-eating at times and wishing you had more.
Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating.
Normal eating takes some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.
In short, normal eating is:
Flexible and varied, in response to your emotions, your schedule, your hunger and your proximity to food.
Source: Adapted from How to Get Your Kid to Eat… But not too much (pp 69-70) by Ellyn Satter