Why Is Everyone Talking About Intuitive Eating Lately?

woman eating a cake

BRO Vector / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • Intuitive eating focuses on self-care and listening to your body and cravings.
  • This eating practice includes 10 guidelines that encourage you to reject diet culture and trust your own instincts.
  • Intuitive eating was introduced in a 1995 book and continues to be a popular alternative to restrictive diet trends.

Reject the diet mentality. That's the first principle of intuitive eating, an evidence-based approach to feeding yourself that connects the mind, body, and emotions.

The concept was first developed in the 1990s by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, who co-authored a book titled "Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach." Almost 30 years later, this practice is regaining traction on social media.

Experts suggest that the prevalence of diet culture and thin idealization online has led to a renewed interest in intuitive eating, which is defined as "a self-care eating framework" that is "weight-inclusive" and "honors both physical and mental health."

Extensive research has associated social media usage with a decline in body confidence. A study found that Facebook users made more appearance comparisons than those who didn't use Facebook. Using the platform for merely 30 minutes a day was enough to change how people viewed their body.

"People are over feeling bad about themselves," Kelsey Lorencz, RDN, a registered dietitian and founder of Graciously Nourished, told Verywell, "There’s been a big shift in the past few years when it comes to mental health awareness and taking care of ourselves in a holistic way."

What Exactly Is Intuitive Eating?

Rahaf Al Bochi, RDN, LDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Verywell that intuitive eating is not a diet.

"It encourages you to tune into your own body signals and behaviors," Bochi said. "Intuitive eating encourages you to view all foods as equal and to enjoy all foods without guilt."

Bochi added that intuitive eating can help those who chronically follow diets to "break free from the cycle of dieting and heal their relationship with food and their body."

Since intuitive eating is not a diet, there are no rules to follow. Instead, intuitive eating includes 10 guiding principles that individuals can practice to learn how to trust their own instinct about feeding themselves.

These principles include intuitive ideas like honoring your hunger by eating enough carbohydrates and maintaining your energy levels. And rather than relying on "militant exercise" to shed calories, the principles encourage shifting the focus to how it feels when you move your body—this can be as simple as going for a morning walk.

Marissa Kai Miluk, MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian who uses intuitive eating in her practice, said that the principles are meant to allow people to explore what the guidelines mean to them personally.

Instead of fixating on counting calories or macros, people can use intuitive eating to build trust in themselves. "Intuitive eating is not for the intention of changing your body or manipulating your body in any way for weight loss or trying to achieve some external standard of health," Miluk told Verywell.

Research has shown dozens of benefits related to intuitive eating. A systematic review suggested that intuitive eating may be associated with body positivity and less disordered eating in women.

A 2018 study found that interventions that involved intuitive eating helped improve eating behaviors and self-esteem in women struggling with weight and body image.

How to Start an Intuitive Eating Practice

Intuitive eating is often explained in the context of chronic dieting, in which people try to move toward a more holistic way of taking care of their bodies. Lorencz, who shares intuitive eating resources online, said that this practice is an option for everyone.

One does not have to have a disordered eating past or be a person who chronically diets to "learn how to eat intuitively and respect your body and yourself," she said. "If you want to stop constantly overeating, feeling guilty when you eat fun foods, or out of control when you’re around those foods you never let yourself have, intuitive eating can help you create balance in your life and remove those negative feelings from food."

Lorencz recommended reading the Intuitive Eating book and following intuitive eating therapists and dietitians on social media for tips and advice.

Since this practice is individualized, you can also speak with a registered dietitian to learn how to fit this practice into your life, especially if you want to manage a chronic condition such as diabetes, GI disorders, and eating disorders, she added.

"While all 10 principles are equally important, they’re all built around two concepts: Rejecting external rules and tuning to internal cues," Lorencz said.

What This Means For You

If you or someone you know is experiencing an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Helpline. The online chat and call/text line (800) 931-2237 are available Monday-Friday. If you are dealing with an emergency, text “NEDA” to 741741 to connect with the 24/7 Crisis Text Line.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Fardouly J. Vartanian LR. Negative comparisons about one’s appearance mediate the relationship between Facebook usage and body image concerns. Body Image. 2015;12:82–88. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.10.004 

  2. The Original Intuitive Eating Pros. 10 principles of intuitive eating.

  3. Bruce LJ, Ricciardelli LA. A systematic review of the psychosocial correlates of intuitive eating among adult womenAppetite. 2016;96:454-472. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2015.10.012

  4. Bégin C, Carbonneau E, Gagnon-Girouard MP, et al. Eating-related and psychological outcomes of health at every size intervention in health and social services centers across the province of QuébecAm J Health Promot. 2019;33(2):248-258. doi:10.1177/0890117118786326