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Top Intuitive Eating FAQ, Answered by a Registered Dietitian

by | May 20, 2022 | Intuitive Eating | 0 comments

This post will dive into the top intuitive eating FAQ I get asked as a registered dietitian with an intuitive eating approach. Which are:

  1. Does it mean just eating whatever I want?
  2. What if I never stop eating __ food?
  3. Is it healthy?
  4. Can I practice intuitive eating with my food related health condition?
  5. Will I lose weight?
  6. Is intuitive eating right for me?

Try to approach it with an open mind and admit that whatever you’ve done up to this point in terms of creating a healthier relationship with food probably hasn’t worked (or you wouldn’t be reading this post!) So you have nothing to lose by learning more about intuitive eating!

Before we get to the top intuitive eating FAQ, let’s get a little refresher on what exactly is intuitive eating.

What is intuitive eating?

what is intuitive eating

By now you’ve likely heard about intuitive eating, yeah? It’s this “hot new craze” where you basically…

a.) stop dieting

b.) learn how to listen to your own body when it comes to feeding yourself

c.) create a joyful, balanced, empowering relationship with food, your body, and exercise

Revolutionary, right?! Sadly, it is. In a world with a new fad diet every 8 seconds telling you to survive on cabbage soup, fast for days on end, cut out multiple food groups, and sell your soul – intuitive eating IS revolutionary. 

Intuitive eating is an evidence-based wellness approach developed by two dietitians named Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole in 1995. 

It’s a mind, body, spirit approach to health and wellness which – to me – makes the MOST sense. Diets tend to only focus on the physical aspect of nutrition which is extremely limited since humans are not just robots that need fuel! 

We MUST take into account the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspect of a person in their relationship with food or it’s incomplete. That’s exactly what intuitive eating is all about. 

What intuitive eaters say:

Here’s what some clients say about finding a healthy relationship with food through intuitive eating:

“No longer do I obsess over my body, restrict foods I used to deem as ‘bad’ or ‘scary’ and follow rigid restrictive diets. Instead, I eat intuitively, move in a way that feels good for my body, and appreciate the many things my body does for me.” – Mallory

“Now I feel at peace with my body no matter what size I am and not controlled by food and thoughts of dieting. I have learned to honor what my body needs in the present moment and to listen and voice what I need to make my body feel great. I feel like a more whole person – mind, body, and spirit.” – Anonymous

“Now I barely think about food and body, I’m going after a career that I’ve always dreamt of, and I can honestly say that I trust myself around food.” – Maria

Does it mean I just eat whatever I want?

does intuitive eating mean eat whatever i want

This is one of the most popular intuitive eating FAQ. And the answer is yes, and no! If you just did whatever your brain wanted in life whenever you wanted to do it, what do you think your life would look like? 

I mean it sounds nice in theory I guess but in reality your brain has a LOT of thoughts – some helpful, some not. If you just let all your thoughts on any given day completely run the show, I think things would get a little weird, no?

Same thing with letting your brain run the show on how you eat. Your thoughts around food are just one piece of the whole “system” of who you are. 

Your spirit/soul and your body are two other hugely important pieces. When you make decisions in life, we have to account for how those decisions affect not just one aspect of who we are, but the entirety of our being – aka body, mind and spirit. 

To simplify this answer. Intuitive eating does mean eating what you want BUT ALSO considering your food choices and…

  • Your body (energy, symptoms, what agrees/doesn’t agree with you)
  • Your health conditions or predisposition to certain health conditions
  • Are your choices in line with your values (financial, cultural, religious, family, etc)
  • Do your choices help you feel the way you want to feel?

If you’re truly taking a holistic aka whole person approach to your food choices, you will start to make balanced decisions that are best for your body, mind AND spirit. 

The next intuitive eating FAQ is another common one.

What if I never stop eating ___ food?

How unfortunate that so many people feel they are SO out of control with food or certain foods that they simply can’t trust themselves and will never stop eating __ food.

I can almost guarantee you will. In the beginning, you’ll probably go through what we call a habituation phase which basically means “get used to it.”

Humans get sick of things. Aka, the novelty wears off. If you’ve been restricting certain foods or food groups in general for a long time, it may take some time to take those off the pedestal and just neutralize them as normal foods again. 

But it’ll happen. Eventually “CHOCOLATE CAKE!!!!!!” becomes, “chocolate cake.” It loses it’s intense power over you simply because you’re not restricting it.

Plus, you’ll build trust with your body and brain once it knows those foods are not “off limits.” So then of course you don’t have to overdo them when you know you can have them again!

Can’t even tell you how many clients i’ve worked with who were like, “I can NEVER keep __ in the house.” A few weeks or months later they’re like, “I still have a bag/box of __ I haven’t touched in weeks!” 

So again. I can almost guarantee you WILL stop eating __ food. Especially since intuitive eating really asks you to be mindful of how your food choices are affecting your body AND spirit as well. 

Anything in excess eventually doesn’t feel good so you’ll soon get sick of your ___ food and eventually crave something else. Or it will give you physical symptoms of eating too much and by paying attention to that, you’ll start to chill out. 

Still skeptical about this one? Check out my post 3 tips to stop feeling out of control with food for more. 

Is it healthy?

There are over 125 published studies on Intuitive Eating showing multiple health benefits of intuitive eating.

Health benefits of intuitive eating:

  • Higher self-esteem
  • Improved body appreciation/acceptance
  • Higher HDL (beneficial cholesterol)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower triglycerides
  • Greater variety of foods eaten
  • More pleasure from eating
  • Improved well-being and optimism
  • Lower rates of disordered eating
  • Lower rates of binge eating
  • Less “loss-of-control” eating
  • Less emotional eating

Seems healthy to me!

can i practice intuitive eating with my food related health condition

This intuitive eating FAQ makes a lot of sense!

The short answer is YES! I have celiac and practice intuitive eating. I have many clients with various health conditions that all become intuitive eaters. It’s absolutely possible.

In my opinion, each food related health condition will only be helped by applying an intuitive eating lens.

I actually always tell people that I continued eating gluten after I was diagnosed with celiac!! I know, wild… BUT it wasn’t until I applied an intuitive eating approach to my celiac diagnosis that I finally stopped eating gluten. 

I switched from a scarcity mindset (I can’t eat gluten) to an abundance mindset (look at all these great foods I CAN eat.) Finding good gluten free substitutions I felt satisfied with was another way in which practicing intuitive eating helped me avoid gluten. 

And lastly, switching from a “they said I can’t eat gluten” aka the doctors, etc. to a “gluten doesn’t agree with my body and it’s not kind to eat it,” mindset shift helped a lot!

Fellow non-diet RD Rachael Hartley wrote an amazing blog post answering all questions on practicing intuitive eating with a food related health condition. She also wrote one specifically on diabetes and intuitive eating as well. 

Can I lose weight with intuitive eating?

Probably the number one intuitive eating FAQ I get is, “but can I lose weight?” It’s such a nuanced question that I felt a quick blurb here wouldn’t do it justice. 

Which is why I wrote a whole ass post dedicated to the question of weight loss and intuitive eating

Short answer is maybe! Check out ^^ that post for a more detailed response to this popular question. 

Is intuitive eating right for me?

Do you…

  • Feel like thoughts about food and your body are controlling your life?
  • Miss out on life because of how you feel about your body?
  • Feel like you can’t trust yourself with food?
  • Try diet after diet hoping something will eventually “work” and become disappointed when it doesn’t?
  • Go back and forth between phases of restriction and then bingeing/overeating?
  • Have a desire for more out of life but feel your relationship with food and your body is holding you back?

Intuitive eating can help you…

  • Make peace with food and eat in a more nourishing, joyful, empowering way
  • Learn how to trust your OWN body and mind when it comes to making food and wellness decisions
  • Pursue wellness in line with what’s important to you, and without the obsession
  • Challenge the belief that your worth/value/happiness is based on what your body looks like
  • Learn how to care for your body in a respectful, kind, realistic and empowering way
  • Stop obsessing over food and your body so you can focus on more important things in life

If you’re ready to stop the food fight, book a free intro call with me. Let’s chat! Life is WAY too short and you were made for SO much more. 

Imagine what you could do with all the time and energy you’re spending stressing over food and your body!

I hope this intuitive eating FAQ was helpful for you!

Other ways I can help:

XO,

Lexy

Blog Lexy Penney Nutritionist Boston Intuitive Eating

Hi, I’m Lexy!

I’m a Registered Dietitian, yoga teacher, & body image coach.

I help women make peace with food and built trust with their bodies so they can live the lives they desire and deserve.

Hop on my email list for your weekly dose of food freedom, body liberation and self-care!

Lexy Penney Nutritionist Boston Intuitive Eating

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