The holidays are a wonderful time of the year. You get to spend time with loved ones, take time off work and enjoy special foods. While they bring excitement, the change in routine can also increase stress. With numerous holiday parties and get togethers, holiday eating can make us anxious, vulnerable and leave us with feelings of guilt.

As you return to your normal habits post-holidays, consider adopting some key principles of intuitive eating (IE) to live as well as possible, optimize your overall health and reject negative thoughts around food.

What is intuitive eating?

This eating style was developed in 1995 by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch1. Through their practice, they realized that counselling patients on traditional weight loss was not beneficial. Therefore, they developed 10 principles of IE with the goal of educating clients on how to eliminate negativity around food and body image

As a whole, IE is the opposite of a diet as it eliminates rules, off-limit foods and allows you to make peace with food (finally!). Intuitive eating allows you to become more aware of  hunger and fullness cues and encourages unconditional permission to eat.1-2  “When you are dieting, forbidden foods become more exciting. But when you remove that, you realize it doesn’t feel good to eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” says Tribole1-2.

10 principles of intuitive eating, according to Tribole and Resch 

  1. Reject The Diet Mentality: Realize that weight and physical appearance does not equal health.
  2. Honour Your Hunger: Regain trust around your hunger cues.
  3. Make Peace With Food: Forget about food rules. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat.
  4. Challenge The Food Police: Question negative thoughts that come into your mind.
  5. Respect Your Fullness: Learn to pay attention to your fullness cues.
  6. Discover The Satisfaction Factor: Eat slowly and savour each bite to help you notice when you feel satisfied.
  7. Honour Your Feelings Without Using Food: Explore new ways to respond to emotions that don’t involve food.
  8. Respect Your Body.
  9. Exercise and Feel The Difference: Find an exercise pattern that brings you joy.
  10. Honour Your Health: Eat foods that contribute to your health and satisfy your cravings.

What’s the research on dieting and intuitive saying to date?

The research on traditional diets suggest that they don’t support sustainable weight loss, a healthy lifestyle or a positive relationship with food. Instead, restrictive eating can have many negative and harmful outcomes including weight variabilities3, psychological distress4-6and depression7-8. Additionally, dieters can be at risk for developing eating disorders in the future4,7,9-10. Therefore, restrictive dieting is not recommended by professionals.

Although the research on IE is new, it has shown both physical and psychological benefits. Such benefits include: weight maintenance, enhanced psychological wellbeing, improved long-term eating behaviours,11 better quality of life,12 enhanced body image13 and reduced risk of disordered eating behaviours, such as chronic dieting and binge-eating. 13,14 As well, women who displayed internal motivation to eat well were also internally motivated to be physically active in ways that bring them joy, rather than for calorie burning or losing weight.15 Though this research is promising, more needs to be done to ensure recommendations are suitable for the general public.

Where can you start?

We recognize that this article is not enough to turn you into an intuitive eater. If you are looking for help to improve your relationship with food, your Shoppers Drug Mart online registered dietitian is available for personalized nutrition advice tailored to your health needs. For more information, visit shoppersdrugmart.ca/dietitians to book your appointment today.

The information provided is for personal use, reference and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for a physician’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific information on personal health matters. Please note: Dietitian services are currently only available in select Ontario stores. Please contact your store to learn more. ®/TM 911979 Alberta Ltd. ©2020 Shoppers Drug Mart Inc

About the authors: Madelyn Morgan, dietetic practicum student with Jemma Besson, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator who works for Shoppers Drug Mart®.

References:

  1. Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (1995). Intuitive eating. A recovery book for the chronic dieter. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  2. Tribole E, Resch E. Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works. 3rd ed. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin; 2012.
  3. Mann T, Tomiyama AJ, Westling E, Lew AM, Samuels B, Chatman J. (2007). Medicare’s search for effective obesity treatments: diets are not the answer. Am Psychol. 62(3):220-233.
  4. Hawks, S. R., Madanat, H. N., & Christley, H. S. (2008). Psychosocial associations of dietary restraint. Implications for healthy weight promotion. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. 47: 450–483.
  5. Rubinstein, G. (2006). The big five and self-esteem among overweight dieting and non-dieting women. Eating Behaviors, 7, 355–361
  6. Theim, K. R. (2007). Effects of dieting history saliency on self-esteem and perceived body image on college women. Appetite, 49, 272–341
  7. Cachelin, F. M., & Regan, P. C. (2006). Prevalence and correlates of chronic dieting in a multi-ethnic U.S. community sample. Eating and Weight Disorders, 11, 91–99.
  8. Gillen, M. M., Markey, C. N., & Markey, P. M. (2012). An examination of dieting behaviors among adults. Links with depression. Eating Behaviors, 13, 88–93.
  9. Keel, P. K., Baxter, M. G., Heatherton, T. F., & Joiner, T. E. Jr., (2007). A 20-year longitudinal study of body weight, dieting, and eating disorder symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116, 422–432.
  10. Neumark-Sztainer, D., Wall, M., Guo, J., Story, M., Haines, J., & Eisenberg, M. (2006). Obesity, disordered eating, and eating disorders in a longitudinal study of adolescents. How do dieters fare 5 years later? Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 106, 559–568.
  11. Van Dykel N, Drinkwater EJ. (2013). Relationships between intuitive eating and health indicators: literature review. Public Health Nutrition. 17(8):1757-1766
  12. Schaefer JT, Magnuson AB. (2014) A review of interventions that promote eating by Internal Cues- Journal of the academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 114(5): 734-760.
  13. Bruce LJ, Ricciardelli LA. (2016). A systematic review of the psychosocial correlates of intuitive eating among adult women. Appetite. 96:454-472.
  14. Denny KN, Loth K, Eisenberg ME, Neumark-Sztainer D. (2012). Intuitive eating in young adults. Who is doing it and how is it related to disordered eating behaviours? Appetite. 60:13-19.
  15. Gast J, Nielson AC, Hunt A, Leiker JJ. (2015). Intuitive Eating: associations with physical activity motivation and BMI. American Journal of Health Promotion. 29(3).