Intuitive Eating 101: Freedom From Dieting
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Why our Dietitian team loves intuitive eating

A woman eating soup and seeing an intuitive eating dietitian

For as long as I can remember our Dietitian team has been teaching the concepts of intuitive eating at our Calgary Nutritionist / Online Dietitian practice.  Not only do the concepts pair beautifully with our core nutrition philosophy we teach our clients, our Dietitian team each live and breathe the concepts of intuitive eating personally.

We’ve never chosen to use the words “clean eating” on our blog or with our clients since to “eat clean” implies that anything that is not a perfect nutritional nerdy choice can be considered the opposite (dirty). Our philosophy will always stand for BALANCED (NOT CLEAN). This is because eating fully is about balancing healthful food choices (chosen for good health) AND soulful food choices (chosen exclusively for taste, social fun and joyous living). Our experience since the year 2000 in the nutrition field has taught us that failing to look at both parts of eating always leads to an imbalanced life.

If you have been following a weight loss diet that is straining your relationship with food and your body, read on. There is another way. You can break out of diet prison and find freedom. Be open to looking at a very different way of living.

You’ve likely heard the term intuitive eating but I wanted to explore an overview of the 10 key principles of intuitive eating and what it means to be an intuitive eater.

What is meant by “intuitive eating”?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word intuitive as “having the ability to understand things without proof or evidence.”

Intuitive Eating BookEvelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch authored the book Intuitive Eating, which is one of the most recommended books used in our practice for our weight loss clients and those that struggle with their relationship of food and their body. The authors define intuitive eating as “an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind and body – where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.”

Intuitive eating encompasses trusting your own inner wisdom to guide you, distinguish between physical and emotional feelings as well as making peace with food, your body and self-worth.

    Is it a matter of following “eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full?”

    Intuitive eating might sound simple but it is actually quite complex as our belief system and rules about eating evolve over time.

    Our family upbringing, genetics, environment and exposure to nutrition information and dieting can confuse or disrupt our ability to trust ourselves.

    How do you know if someone is an intuitive eater?

    We often ask our clients a range of questions to find out their food rules, fear foods, foods they will “never eat” or “shouldn’t have” to get a sense of where there is distrust with food and their body.

    Signs you are NOT an intuitive eater:
    • There are “good” and “bad” foods
    • There are rules around exercise
    • There is guilt around what/when/where you eat
    • Obsessive measuring of food or weight
    • There are “safe” and “unsafe” foods
    • Chronic counting of calories, carbs, protein, fat or points
    • Using food to stuff or starve emotions
    • Comparing your food to other people

    What are the principles of intuitive eating?

    In their book Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch suggest the following 10 principles of intuitive eating:

    1. Reject the dieting mentality

    Any restrictive diet that does not allow flexibility over your intake is doomed to fail. Stop chasing the latest and greatest cure-all weight loss books as diets can temporarily lead to weight loss but don’t address long-term sustainable weight loss.

    2. Honor your hunger

    Simply put, eat enough. Denying yourself enough calories, carbs, protein and fat will trigger a primal drive to over-consume.

    3. Make peace with food

    Have unconditional permission to enjoy ALL foods. There are no good or bad foods. We all want what we can’t have – if you deny yourself enjoyable foods it often leads to overeating and feelings of guilt.

    4. Challenge the food police

    We all have an inner critic that needs to stopped in order for us to succeed. Your automatic thoughts that tell you were good for starving yourself or bad for eating a forbidden food, need to be addressed. Recognize these unhealthy thoughts and “thought stop” aka (scream a loud “NO!” to these damaging thoughts in your head).

    5. Respect your fullness

    Slow down, eat away from distractions and tune into your body signals for fullness. Check-in at the start, mid and end of a meal about hunger and fullness. Don’t judge, trust.

    6. Discover the satisfaction factor

    Make eating enjoyable and non-judgmental. When you slow down, eat pleasurable foods as well as dine in a non-stressful environment you will find a new sense of satisfaction.

    7. Honor your feelings without using food

    What’s eating you? Lonely, angry, bored or anxious? What emotion am I trying to stuff by eating or (starve by not eating)? How can you comfort yourself without food? While food may be a quick fix it doesn’t provide a lasting solution and usually makes you feel even worse.

    8. Respect your body

    We all have a unique “best weight” which is like our personal best that can’t be measured on a chart or by a number you want to be. Just like you can’t change your shoe size, you can’t change your genetic set point to be a certain body size or shape. If you’ve been dieting a long time you likely won’t like this but would you be willing to work towards accepting this?

    9. Exercise – feel the difference

    Stop extreme makeover workout attempts and move your body for health, energy and because it simply feels good to be active. Look at exercise as a way to elevate your strength and confidence, not as a form of punishment.

    10. Honor your health – gentle nutrition

    You don’t need to be perfect – as I like to say “imperfect is actually perfect.” Choose foods that both respect your health, energy and productivity at work but also be sure to consume soulful foods that are chosen for fun and taste. Make life delicious!


    Need a supportive helping hand to help achieve this? Our compassionate team of intuitive eating dietitians can help, contact us here

    Is intuitive eating a good option if I am recovering from an eating disorder?

    If you are struggling with an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder often it is difficult to truly trust your hunger and fullness cues and be in a place of readiness to truly ditch food rules and restrictive eating behaviors. It can also take time to feel comfortable in your body and trust the concept of intuitive eating.

    Working with a trusted Eating Disorder Dietitian is very helpful to help provide you with a strong foundation of what, when and how much to eat and then in time really move you to a more flexible relationship with food and the concepts of intuitive eating.

    Where can I get more information on intuitive eating?

    Purchase a copy of the well known book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It is a must read!

    As Registered Dietitians that specialize in weight concerns, emotional eating and disordered eating we can see you in our local Calgary nutritionist office or as an Online Dietitian by phone or video conferencing for virtual nutrition counseling. Read more about our nutrition counseling programs and book an appointment by our experienced Registered Dietitian team here: INTUITIVE EATING DIETITIAN.

    You might also enjoy these related posts:

    Finding Food Freedom and Combating Unnecessary Diet Rules

    Mindful Eating for Health and Meal Satisfaction

    Weight Loss Wisdom: Set a Personal Best Weight Goal

    Looking for more information on intuitive eating or weight loss dietitian nutrition counseling?

    Our dietitian Calgary and online nutritionist services can’t guarantee weight loss (no one can!) but we can guarantee we will do everything we can to help you move towards your personal best weight and a sustainable lifestyle. You won’t find any weird fad diets, unnecessary food restrictions and anyone trying to sell you shakes, supplements or so-called miracle cures here.

    As university trained Registered Dietitians, you can count on us for credible advice and practical meal planning so you don’t have to stress about food anymore. You can achieve a healthy and joyous relationship with food and your body. Let’s talk about what this can look like for you. CONTACT US.

    Read more about our nutrition counseling programs and book an appointment by our experienced Registered Dietitian team here:

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    "I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
    Adele Fox, Psychologist
    “This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
    Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
    “The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
    Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
    “I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
    Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
    “I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
    Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
    “I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
    Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
    “Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
    Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

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    I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
    Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

    Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

    “I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
    Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
    “As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
    Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

    Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

    I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
    Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
    “Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
    Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

    ARC Resources Ltd.

    “Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
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