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Principles of Intuitive Eating | Healthy UNH

Beginners Guide To Intuitive Eating 

Have you ever tried to go on a diet? Were you successful? Unfortunately the answer to that question for many is no. Traditional diets tend not to work for a lot of people, and can lead to feelings of defeat. Intuitive eating was designed to be the exact opposite.  

Intuitive eating does not impose any restrictions when it comes to what you can and cannot eat. Instead, the concept is simple: you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. This method is designed to make you the expert on your body and to learn the signals for when you’re hungry.  

In order to trust your body, you have to be able to distinguish between the different kinds of hunger

  • Physical Hunger: The biological urge to replenish nutrients. It has signals such as a growling stomach, fatigue, and irritability, and is satisfied when you eat.  

  • Emotional Hunger: Driven by emotional needs. Feelings can create cravings for food such as sadness, loneliness, and boredom. Eating can cause guilt and feelings of self hate. 

There are some key principles that will help guide you on your intuitive eating journey: 

  • Honor Your Hunger: Once your body starts showing signs of hunger, it’s time to eat. If you allow yourself to reach excess hunger you are more likely to overeat. 

  • Make Peace With Food. Stop the fight with food and give yourself permission to eat. If you restrict yourself from certain foods you can have feelings of deprivation and are more likely to binge.  

  • Challenge Your Thoughts. It is not “good” to eat minimal calories or “bad” because to have a slice of cake. Many people have unreasonable thoughts such as these due to diet culture which need to be forgotten.  

  • Feel Your Fullness. Watch for the body signals that you are full. Try to eat slower, and pause in the middle of eating and assess how full you feel.  

  • Move For Fun. Forget about how many calories you are burning and instead move to feel good. Focus on how you feel when you work out, such as being energized and happy. This will help motivate you.  

  • Cope With Your Emotions. Find ways to comfort and nurture yourself, as well as how to resolve your issues. Coping with food may make you feel better in the moment, however it is not a long term solution. Emotional eating will make you feel worse in the long run.  

  • Honor Your Health. Choose foods that taste good while also making you feel good. One snack or dessert will not set you back, it’s about being consistent and finding a habit of eating that is sustainable.  

One of the major benefits of intuitive eating is better psychological health. The main point behind intuitive eating is progress not perfection. Be kind to yourself and listen to your body. UNH dining also has registered dieticians that can help start you on your journey!  

Have you ever tried intuitive eating? Let us know by emailing us at!  

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