Episode 27: Intuitive Eating Ain’t All That Intuitive

Baby facedown in a big cake
Honestly, I’m just here for a good time, and I’m feeling very attacked right now.

Maybe you’ve heard the term “intuitive eating” and thought, “uh, isn’t that just, like, you know, eating?” 

Or maybe you’ve never heard of it before but really like our content and are here for the jokes.

Either way, we are here for your education. And also to make dick jokes. 

But we digress.

Lil’ Bit of History

Intuitive eating in its current format isn’t necessarily new. The term itself hit the mainstream in 1995 as the title of a book by the same name by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

Before that, Susie Orbach wrote the book “Fat Is a Feminist Issue” in ‘78, and Geneen Roth was tackling emotional eating in the early 80s.

Yeah, But What Is It?

According to Tribole and Resch’s website, intuitive eating is defined as “a weight-inclusive, evidence-based model with a validated assessment scale and over 100 studies to date.” 

There are 10 principles to intuitive eating, which include:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honor Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Respect Your Fullness
  6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honor Your Feelings without Using Food
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Exercise—Feel the Difference
  10. Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

It might be easier to explain what intuitive eating is not. It’s not a diet. But on the flip side, it’s not carte blanche to go ape-shit and motorboat pan after pan of brownies until you make yourself ill.

In a lot of ways, it’s the anti-diet. You don’t count calories or macros or exercise to “earn” food. You eat what you want, when you want it. And as much as you want. The goal isn’t to binge but rather to eat until you’re satisfied.

But How Do You Lose Weight?

Well.

See the thing is …

You don’t.

At least that’s not the goal.

According to this article, “[t]hus far, studies have linked intuitive eating to healthier psychological attitudes, lower body mass index (BMI), and weight maintenance — though not weight loss.” (Emphasis ours.)

But Y Tho?

Yes, we can already hear your objections and complaints. “If you don’t lose weight, what’s the point? I’ve already ‘intuitively ate’ myself into being unable to wear pants that button. And now you’re telling me to ‘trust my hunger’? You clearly have not met me or my hunger.”

And all of those — plus more because we’re over achievers — are the same objections that both AJ and Hillary had.

In fact, Hillary had tried intuitive eating on one or two other occasions, only to watch her weight climb and her feelings of anxiety and shame around food only increase.

AJ was of the “this sounds like some next-level bullshit because I cannot be trusted to eat whatever I want whenever I want unless I want a crane to move me in and out of my house” mindset.

So Why Try Again or Now?

Fatigue.

We, like many others, are tired. Tired of counting carbs or fat or calories or whatever macro de jour is. Tried of exercising just to be able to eat more. Tired of working hard to lose weight and doing everything right, only to give in to a small temptation that inevitably became a huge binge. Tired of trying to figure out what we could or should eat at a restaurant or at someone’s home.

And the Results?

Since neither AJ nor Hillary decided to try intuitive eating for weight loss, it’s probably not surprising they haven’t lost anything. On the flip side, they haven’t gain weight either.

When Hillary started, she decided to weigh herself every day to 1) overcome her fear of damn number and 2) just to see what happened. And what happened was … well, not much. The scale fluctuates on the regular but only one or two pounds in either direction. Some days it’s up, some days it’s down, but it all averages out to about the same number.

It’s still pretty early in the process for both of us, but we are starting to see some benefits. We do both feel a little less cray-cray around food, though not every moment of every day.

Hillary’s been focusing more on the “gentle nutrition” aspect because she felt like her consumption of fruits and vegetables had gone way down. AJ’s been tackling the book and workbook and has found that to be helpful.

It’s early days, but so far, intuitive eating has been a useful tool for both of them.

So, What Now?

Honestly, who knows? As implied above, we both felt like we needed to heal our relationship with food and get off the crazy train.

Will we ever get back on? Maybe. If our weights become more of a health concern or we just feel like we want to lose some weight. AJ still likes low-carb eating and keto, so she might go back. Hillary has no plans beyond continuing with intuitive eating until she doesn’t want to anymore.

Obviously, this is an ongoing thing, so we’ll let you know how it goes and if anything changes.

Is Intuitive Eating Right for You?

Maybe! Here’s a completely unscientific questionnaire* we put together for you:

Are you a chronic dieter? Or do you prefer the term “professional dieter”?

  1. You can do an instant macro or calorie breakdown of your meal and every plate in your immediate vicinity like a heat-seeking missile, and you are not a licensed nutritionist or medical professional
  2. You compulsively track everything you put in your mouth like you’re trying to win a prize.
  3. Words and phrases like macro, carb, fat grams, reset, cleanse, on plan, and cheat meal are part of your everyday vocabulary.
  4. Your fitness tracker sends you messages like “chill the fuck out” instead of “good job!”
  5. You have developed a nervous tic that is triggered by others eating or mentioning things like a Snickers bar, potato salad, baked beans, etc.

If you answered “shut up you don’t know me!” to any of those questions … well, we’re not gonna tell you how to live your life. But maybe give intuitive eating a whirl.

Or have you already tried intuitive eating? Did you love it? Hate it? Something in the middle? Tell us in the comments or on our Facebook page!

*Additional Disclaimer In Case You Missed the Link to Our First One

This list is meant humorously, not to diagnose or denigrate actual medical issues or eating disorders. By design, we’ve omitted the following: severely restricting calories, intentional starvation, skipping meals, binge eating and purging because those are signs of an eating disorder.  PLEASE: Seek help from a medical professional or mental health advocate if any of the precursors or symptoms listed here characterize your eating or if you feel triggered in any way.

Further Info and Deets

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