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Intuitive Eating

By Ruchi Shah, MS, RD, CDN

Intuitive eating is a philosophy that promotes a healthy attitude towards food. It is feeding your body when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Everyone’s body is different, so intuitive eating allows you to see what works for YOUR body.

This philosophy focuses on trusting your body and understanding what your body is telling you. You need to understand the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Physical hunger is a biological response to your body needing replenishment, while emotional hunger is wanting food due to emotional stress such as boredom, sadness, or loneliness. With physical hunger, once you have eaten, your body is satisfied and is no longer in need of replenishment. With emotional hunger, however, cravings may take over, followed by feelings of self-hatred or guilt.

Research shows that intuitive eating has a positive effect on attitudes towards food, and helps to decrease BMI (body mass index) and promote weight maintenance. Intuitive eating keeps people on track with better retention rates and is a more sustainable way of eating.

In “The Intuitive Eating Book”, authors Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resche discuss the following key principles of intuitive eating:

  1. Reject the diet mentality.
    • Avoid dieting.
  2. Honor your hunger.
    • Respond to your body when it is telling you it is hungry.
  3. Make peace with food.
    • Don’t focus on what you should and shouldn’t eat.
  4. Challenge the food police.
    • Understand that food is neither good nor bad for you, and that you are not good or bad based on what you eat.
  5. Respect your fullness.
    • Listen to your body.
  6. Discover the satisfaction factor.
    • Make each eating experience enjoyable. Eat what you like to eat. Enjoy the meal.
  7. Honor your feelings without using food.
  8. Find ways to deal with your emotions other than using food as a coping mechanism.
  9. Respect your body.
  10. Love your body as it is.
  11. Exercise – feel the difference.
  12. Move your body. Do not focus on losing weight, but rather on gaining energy and strength.
  13. Honor your health – gentle nutrition
    • The foods you eat should make you feel good, and the overall food choices you make help to shape your health. One meal or snack will not cause harm to your health.

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Ruchi Shah is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at


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