Promoting Intuitive Eating as a way to lose weight ‘the right way’ is a misrepresentation of our work. It’s flat out wrong.⁣

No health professional can rightly state you will lose weight with Intuitive Eating, including me (co-creator of Intuitive Eating, an evidence-based self-care eating framework, with 10 principles and 90 studies to date). Today, I’d like to explain to you why.⁣

The first principle of Intuitive Eating is to Reject the Diet Mentality (which includes food restriction for the purpose of weight loss). Focusing on weight loss interferes with the process of becoming an Intuitive Eater. Let me repeat that—Interferes!⁣

Intuitive Eating is based on interoceptive awareness, which is an inside job, it’s the ability to perceive physical sensations that arise from within the body. It’s about deep listening and connecting to your body from the inside out. ⁣

On the other hand, focusing on weight loss is external based, and creates a barrier to listening, which instills body-doubt. Consequently, folks start thinking there is something wrong with them, because they have not lost weight according to their expectations. They think they have failed Intuitive Eating, or that⁣ IE ‘doesn’t work’. (Yet, you can’t fail IE, because it’s a journey of discovery and learning).⁣

It’s true that some people will experience weight loss as a side effect of Intuitive Eating. Other bodies on the IE journey may stay the same, while others may need to gain weight. I’m not against weight loss, it just can’t be the focal point. Intuitive Eating is very much weight neutral and aligned with the Health At Every Size approach. ⁣

There is a body of research that shows that dieting for the purpose of weight loss is not sustainable, and moreover causes harm biologically and psychology; and increases the risk of eating disorders, binge eating, weight cycling and weight stigma. The risk of developing an eating disorder from dieting is serious and recognized by a body of research as well as scientific and professional organizations.⁣

If a health professional or coach is offering you Intuitive Eating for the purpose of weight loss – run away. Fast.

Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S

Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S is an award-winning registered dietitian, with a nutrition counseling practice in Newport Beach, California. She has written nine books including the bestsellers Healthy Homestyle Cooking and Intuitive Eating(co-author). Her newest book is the Intuitive Eating Workbook:Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food.

1 Comment

Michelle · January 18, 2020 at 10:30 am

Hi Evelyn, thanks for sharing this post. I am curious what your experiences have been with implementing intuitive eating. When deciding what feels right to eat, the emotional feedback, social cue feedback, hormonal feedback etc. surely all influence this feeling. I have been long-uncertain about relying on intuition (sounds nebulous) as a useful path forward. But a lot of studies seem to support it and I appreciate any experiences you’d be willing to share.

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