Written by Madi Hahn, Dietetics Student
Intuitive Eating was developed in 1995 by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch as an anti-diet approach to eating. The concept has gained popularity in recent years as research continues to support the idea that restrictive diets not only don’t last, but also have adverse effects on health. Together, they published a book titled Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach, breaking the approach into 10 principles to follow – all backed by research and supplemented with tips from Tribole (MS, RDN, CEDRD-S) and Resch (MS, RDN, CEDRD-S, FAND).
In this series, we’ll be reviewing each principle:
Reject the diet mentality
Honor your hunger
Make peace with food
Challenge the food police
Discover the satisfaction factor
Feel your fullness
Cope with your emotions with kindness
Respect your body
Movement – feel the difference
Honor your health – gentle nutrition
Principle #3: Make Peace with Food
Principle #3 of Intuitive Eating is to Make Peace with Food! When we’re stuck in a restrictive dieting cycle, we tend to have polarizing beliefs about foods. The fact is, labeling certain foods as “good” vs. “bad” tends to lead us down a negative road full of over-restriction and opens the potential for overconsuming the very foods we attempt to restrict! As Tribole and Resch’s book says,
“When I was on the grapefruit diet, all I wanted was bananas, and when I was on a low-carbohydrate diet all I did was dream of eating bread and potatoes.”
The book also discusses a few key side effects to having polarizing beliefs about foods, such as Deprivation Backlash/Rebound Eating. The concept is that when we give ourselves a “do not eat” list, it only causes obsession with that food and draws us toward that food. And the truth is, in many cases, it would be more advantageous for us to simply consume that “bad” food and move on. Instead, what we tend to do is hyperfixate and feel “out of control” around the foods we have deemed as evil.
Oftentimes, this can occur when we feel we are competing for food, coming back from somewhere where our usual foods weren’t as accessible, or consistently having limited access to food in general. It is often the anticipation of food restriction alone that can put our bodies into autopilot, where we feel we lose our sense of control. At the end of the day, it’s us that places these labels on food. Sure, health is certainly something to be prioritized, but in most cases, the binge/restrict cycle often demonstrates adverse health effects in tandem with the draining mental cycle of feelings of guilt and deprivation.
The key to Principle #3 is giving ourselves unconditional permission to eat the foods we really want when we want them. We can prove to ourselves that no individual food and no ‘one meal’ has the power to make us unhealthy. By allowing ourselves to reject the diet mentality, listen to our body’s hunger and craving cues, and view all foods from a neutral perspective, we can make peace with ourselves and our bodies.
Stay tuned to learn more about Intuitive Eating Principles #4-10 in future posts!