In recent years, intuitive eating has become a trend in the nutrition world. Though this concept arose in 1995, it has recently gained popularity as an alternative to restrictive dieting. 

Intuitive eating is a nutritional guide that focuses on listening to your body signals and promoting a healthy body image. To practice intuitive eating effectively, you need to know the difference between physical and emotional hunger.

  • Physical hunger. This is a biological need from your body informing you that you need to replenish the nutrients your body has expended. Signs of physical hunger include a growling or hollow sensation in the stomach, low energy levels, lightheadedness, or a shaky feeling. 
  • Emotional hunger. This refers to the desire to eat based on an emotional need or feeling. It is usually associated with negative feelings such as stress, boredom, or sadness, though feelings of happiness can also lead to emotional eating. 

Principles of Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating focus on ten basic principles. 

Honor Your Hunger

Hunger is a good thing, and you do not need to be afraid of it. Hunger is a signal your body requires nutrients and your energy level is low. Responding to your hunger signals prevents binge eating. 

Reject the Diet Mentality

Let go of all diets that promise weight loss quick fixes. The diet culture does not promote a healthy lifestyle. It creates feelings of shame and failure when they do not work and can lead to a weight loss plateau, which you can read more about on

Make Peace with Food

Food is not your enemy. Permit yourself to eat. Food restrictions only lead to intense cravings and bingeing when you get a chance to eat that particular food. 

Challenge the Food Police

You are not good or bad based on the number of calories you eat. Loudly reject the negative thoughts that have been perpetuated by the diet culture. 

Respect Your Feeling of Fullness

Your body signals you when it is full. Listen to the signals that let you know you are not hungry anymore. You can do this by pausing in the middle of eating to check whether you are full or not. 

Discover the Satisfaction Factor

Enjoy your eating experience. Involve your senses as you eat. Eat what you want in an enticing environment. Doing this will help you feel more satisfied and content. 

Honor Your Feelings

Recognize when you are having strong emotions and find healthy ways to deal with them, such as journaling, meditating, breathing exercises, or taking a walk. The right coping tools will help manage emotional eating

Respect Your Body

Accept your genetic makeup. Respecting your body as it helps you to make better choices for it. 

Move Your Body

Get active. Include physical movement in your day. Pay attention to how you feel when you move rather than how many calories you burn. 

Honor Your Health

Make food choices that honor your health and body, understanding that consistent good or bad food choices make a difference. 

Advantages of Intuitive Eating

  • Intuitive eating is personalized. It focuses on your individual needs at a specific time. Most diets are generalized and do not recognize that our bodies require different nutritional needs from time to time. The nutritional needs of an 18-year-old and a 60-year-old will differ.
  • It breaks the vicious weight loss cycle. Most diets are very restrictive and hard to maintain long-term. A diet may work for a while resulting in significant weight loss. However, deviation from the diet may cause you to gain all the weight back and even more. This yo-yo process can be very exhausting.
  • It combats excessive eating. As mentioned, intuitive eating is all about listening to your hunger cues. This means you end up eating only when hungry and not when you are required to eat. 
  • It helps you make better food choices. Intuitive eating promotes understanding what foods give you the best nutritional value. This leads to better food choices in the long run. It defines what success looks like. 

Disadvantages of Intuitive Eating

  • It can be affected by the foods we eat. Intuitive eating focuses on hunger cues, but some addictive foods increase appetite and create a feeling of hunger even when you are not hungry. 
  • It takes time. Getting to know your body and learning what different cues mean will take time. Therefore, if you are looking for a short-term solution, intuitive eating may not work. 
  • It is not structured. There are no rules to follow, leaving it very open-ended. If you thrive on structure, intuitive eating may not be for you. 
  • It cannot work on its own. Intuitive eating may not work for weight loss, but it can help you maintain your current weight. You will still need to add an exercise regimen to increase calorie burn. 

Is Intuitive Eating Beneficial for Weight Loss?

Research has shown that intuitive eating can have a positive, long-lasting impact as it focuses on progress instead of perfection. However, intuitive eating may not be the right fit for you. You will need to consider any dietary constrictions as well as any health concerns you may have.