[Wellness Wednesday] Can Intuitive Eating Help Us Get Off The Diet Roller Coaster? https://reclaiminghopewellness.com

[Wellness Wednesday] Can Intuitive Eating Help Us Get Off The Diet Roller Coaster?

Happy Wednesday everyone! It’s time to talk about Wellness again. As you may remember from the post What Is Wellness, part of the definition of wellness, according to UC Davis, is “the process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.”

In our quest to make those choices toward a healthy life, sometimes we end up getting waaayyy off track! The area where this happens more often than any other is with our eating.

“Good” foods, “bad” foods; “always” eat this, “never” eat that…. We’ve become obsessed with nutrition information while at the same time, we’ve become more and more unhealthy.

We get on the diet roller coaster and don’t seem to be able to get off.

Diet can refer simply to eating patterns — what we eat in a given day, but it can also refer to the restriction of calories, certain foods or nutrients, etc.. The latter is what I’m talking about here.

Obviously, some health challenges require us to abide by a certain eating patterns or restrictions and if we’ve been advised to do that, we need to stick to it. It’s always helpful to work with a Registered Dietitian when we have specialized nutritional needs.

For the rest of us, though, maybe it’s time to get off that diet roller coaster. I’m not advocating throwing healthful eating out the window, but I wanted to talk a little about an approach to eating that could help us stop letting an unhealthy relationship with food rule our lives.

Have you ever heard the term intuitive eating? I was introduced to this approach many years ago at a fitness conference I went to. I took this workshop because I wanted to help my clients get out from under the guilt and feelings of failure they had every time a diet didn’t work out. So many times people go on a super-restrictive diet, have some initial success, then when they can’t stick with it long-term, they feel they’ve failed. It’s not the person who has failed, though. It’s the diet mentality that has failed them.

The intuitive eating program was developed by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A.. They encourage people to ditch the diets and listen to their body, to reconnect with their inner intuitive eater.

So how do we know if we’re in touch with ours? Let’s look at what intuitive eaters do: “Intuitive Eaters march to their inner hunger signals, and eat whatever they choose without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma.”

As they describe it, we are naturally intuitive eaters. In their book, Intuitive Eating, they reference toddlers and their innate wisdom about food if we don’t interfere with it. They state that “….study after study shows that if you let a toddler eat spontaneously, he will eat what he needs when given free access to food.”

The problem comes in when we start assigning human attributes to food — i.e., good or bad foods, deprive ourselves of the things we really love, and start to feel guilty when we eat something we “shouldn’t” eat. This sets us up for unhealthy attitudes centered around eating, and makes mealtime more of a chore than a time of day we can use to reconnect with family around the table and enjoy each others’ company.

So how do we get back to being the natural intuitive eater that we used to be?

Tribole and Resch outline 10 Principles for Intuitive Eating on their website. These principles include rejecting the diet mentality, honoring your hunger, and challenging the Food Police, just to name a few.

If you’d like to learn more about Intuitive Eating, you can check out their website, www.intuitiveeating.org or their book, Intuitive Eating. My copy of the book is older than dirt (okay, it’s only 16 years old) but they’ve published an updated one, as well as a workbook, which are both available on Amazon.

Getting back in touch with our inner intuitive eater can help us get off the diet roller coaster, learn to enjoy food again, and restore a healthy relationship with food. When we’re able to eat healthfully, enjoy our food, and not beat ourselves up when we indulge in that occasional treat, we reap the benefits in both the physical and emotional dimensions of wellness.

Are you familiar with the concept of Intuitive Eating? Would you say that you’re an intuitive eater? Please share!






Intuitive Eating, A Revolutionary Program That Works, 2nd ed, 2003, Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A., St. Martin’s Press, New York, New York




  1. Intuitive eating is an interesting concept and makes sense in many ways. I was reading about trends for 2019 and the source (can’t remember who) said that this year’s focus will be ‘no diet’. Not sure what they meant by that, but it is about time that we stand back and recognize that all of our obsessions with food are not always healthy. Dieting is big business and generates a lot of money – with a return audience. Learning to listen to our bodies can only be a good thing.

    1. I agree – it really does make sense. Our bodies inherently know what they need, it’s just that we’ve silenced them with our “diet mentality.” I know when I follow the principles of intuitive eating I feel much better, I generally don’t overeat, and I tend to choose the foods that fuel my body. I hope your source was right about this year’s focus being no diet. You’re absolutely right — our obsession with food is not always healthy.

  2. this makes so much sense as our body knows what it needs, we just need to be able to figure out how to truly tune in and listen…………Bless You Terri!

    1. Learning to listen is the hard part, isn’t it? We’ve ignored them for so long it takes a little time to get back in touch with them. Blessings to you too!

  3. I like this approach! I have studied it. Unfortunately, I cannot be trusted. I have to eat high protein, low carb. After a few surgeries, my diet is no longer my own. When I get off track, I get sick. Having said that, when I get a craving for… chicken, I eat a chicken meal. Olives, I eat a meal with olives. And so on. That is my intuitive eating! Great post! No one should be a slave to a traditional ‘diet.’ My Weight Watcher days instilled in me portion control. My doctor and nutritionist instilled the importance of protein. But I listen to what my body is telling me. I really loved this post!!!

    1. Thanks so much Kim! It’s great that you know what you have to eat in order to stay well, and that you listen to your body when you’re having cravings. In my experience, if we give our bodies a little of what they’re craving (unless it’s contraindicated due to medical concerns), we’re much better off. If we don’t, we’ll eat everything else in the house trying to satisfy that craving.😊

  4. I love that Terri! It aligns with our bodies needs much more wisely too! I haven’t heard that term for it before rather natural biorhythm eating is more familiar. 😀

    1. I agree Jennifer – it does seem to align more wisely with what our bodies need. It’s just a matter of re-learning how to listen to them, I think. I hadn’t heard the term natural biorhythm eating. I wonder if they’re close to the same thing. I think I’ll check it out…. 😊 Blessings to you!

  5. I came across intuitive eating years ago, and yet still struggle with it now. To replace years of food labelling, unhappy relationships with food/weight/control issues etc is hard, but this really is the best way to go with tapping in to what your body needs and changing your perspective on it.

    I found books by Geneen Roth to be particularly supportive and insightful in this respect, too. “It’s not the person who has failed, though. It’s the diet mentality that has failed them.” Very true, and we can be our own worst critics, when instead we should look to treat ourselves with a little more kindness, and ease up on how we see food because there’s more to life than the misery of disordered eating or diets.
    Brilliant post, very good point to raise awareness of Terri!
    Caz xx

    1. Thanks so much Caz! I think you hit the nail on the head: “To replace years of food labelling, unhappy relationships with food/weight/control issues etc is hard.” Once things are so deeply ingrained, it’s hard to unlearn them.

      I’ll have to check out Geneen Roth’s books – I haven’t heard of her before. Thanks for sharing that!

      I agree that we need to ease up and treat ourselves more kindly. We don’t need to be prisoners to that diet mentality anymore.

      1. Prisoners to the diet mentality, that’s a great way of putting it.

        Roth actually did a book specifically on intuitive eating – https://amzn.to/2T23EKb

        The one book I first read when I was much younger on food/weight/eating issues which seemed to hit me hard, was by Jane Hirschmann & Carol Munter called Overcoming Overeating – https://amzn.to/2WbW9Cq

        ^ That one isn’t just about overeating, it was the unhealthy relationship with food and dieting, the pressures on ourselves and how we need to treat ourselves more kindly. Looks like it’s been revamped in an updated version (the old one I have has a bright pink cover rather than this clinical-looking one, but the original now seems to be over $40 on Amazon!)

      2. Thanks so much for the information Caz! I’ll have to put those on my “to order” list. Sending hugs your way!

    1. That’s so true Brigid! Like V.J. said, the diet industry is big business, and they know exactly when to hit people – right when they’re making and trying to keep their New Year’s resolutions. I think you’ll find the information on the Intuitive Eating website interesting. Blessings to you!

  6. Very insightful post Terri! Listening is key! I have what I call filling up days where my appetite increases and I graze practically all day long or I eat larger portions but likewise I have days where a lot less satisfies me! It seems to balance out pretty well. As a result I’ve gained one stone every 10 years which I find comfortable.

    1. Thanks so much Marie, and congratulations on listening to your body. I know what you mean about those filling up days… I do the same thing; it’s almost as if I’m hungry all day long, and I mean physically, stomach-growling hungry, and then other days I don’t want anywhere near as much to eat. Our bodies really do seem to know what they need, don’t they?

      1. That’s an interesting thought….it very well could be. Hope you’re doing well, dear friend!

  7. at first glance I would be scared to eat intuitively since I eat when I am happy, bored, sad etc. I think they call that the SEE Food diet? …but it may be worth looking into, thank you for sharing

    1. Grace, you’re a woman after my own heart…. I joke that I’m on the SEE food diet all the time.😊 It can be difficult to retrain ourselves, especially when we’re emotional eaters, but that’s a lot of what the intuitive eating philosophy is about — learning to listen to our body’s real hunger signals and stop letting our emotions drive the train. I think everyone has to find what works for them. Hope you and your family are all doing well!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Marcio! Healthy eating, including having a healthy relationship with food, is so vital to good health. Thanks also for following – I look forward to getting to know you!

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