Intuitive eating is more than tuning in to your body’s signals to honour your hunger and fullness. The intuitive eating process has many benefits to help you find food freedom and build a healthy relationship with food, from increased self-compassion to reduced feelings of stress and anxiety.
1. Improved relationship with food
You may have heard the term “relationship with food” and that you need a healthy relationship with food, but what does it mean? When I refer to your relationship with food, I refer to how you view food. Is food a form of punishment or joy? Are you anxious about food? Do you feel guilty for eating certain foods?
Intuitive eating helps improve your relationship with food by unlearning unhealthy food rules often developed from years of dieting and food restriction.
2. Reduced food guilt
The most noticeable benefit of intuitive eating clients report is reduced food guilt. They are often conditioned to beat themselves up for eating certain foods (often their favourite foods) as they were forbidden as part of a diet. Principle 3 and 4 of intuitive eating make peace with food and challenge the food police to help do just that, which helps reduce food guilt.
3. Increased food satisfaction
I might be biased, but food and eating are the greatest (if not the greatest) things about life. However, years of dieting, demonising and labelling food as good or bad can quickly take any satisfaction out of food. There is a whole principle in the intuitive eating practice devoted to discovering food satisfaction.
4. Improved self-care skills
Intuitive eating isn’t just about food and eating. It teaches people how to prioritise self-care. That means getting enough sleep, eating enough food and taking time for yourself to do the things you enjoy. This is an essential part of the intuitive eating process as taking care of these self-care basics can help you tune into your body’s hunger and fullness cues, the pillars of intuitive eating.
5. Improved body image
While we’ve been taught to believe that achieving our “goal” weight is the only way to have a good body image, this is not the case. A positive body image comes from within. The intuitive eating process helps improve your body image by teaching people to respect their bodies and moving away from body positivity to body acceptance.
6. Reduced food stress and anxiety
Diet culture teaches us to label foods as good or bad. Merely thinking about eating “bad” food can elicit stress and anxiety in dieters. Intuitive eaters report a reduction in feelings of stress and anxiety as they develop self-compassion and move through eating with curiosity instead of judgement.
7. Reduced food cravings
Intuitive eaters give themselves unconditional permission to eat. That means eat any and all foods. Once food labels and food restriction is removed, you’ll notice a noticeable reduction in food cravings. As the body craves what it’s missing or can’t have.
8. Reduced emotional eating
Regardless of your culture, food has emotional attachments; we eat to celebrate and for comfort. Dieters, however, learn to use food to cope with emotions, resulting in frequent emotional eating. Intutive eaters are taught how to cope with feelings without using food, which reduces emotional eating.
9. Improved self-compassion
Unlike dieting, which teaches people to criticise and judge themselves for eating certain foods, intuitive eating teaches people to be compassionate towards themselves and explore possible reasons for choosing certain foods.
10. Reduced food bingeing
Bingeing is most commonly the byproduct of food deprivation. When food is forbidden, we humans desire it even more, whether it’s chocolate, ice cream or even bread. When we finally “give in” and allow ourselves to eat these foods, our cravings are so intense that we overeat, which often leads to guilt, anxiety, and shame. Known as the binge restrict cycle.