Kite Insights

Intuitive Eating: Eat to Live or Live to Eat?

by Monica Wing, RD, CNSC, CLEC

Everyone gets caught up in daily routines and multitasking, making it difficult to stop and listen to what our body really wants and needs. Fueling the body with food is a necessity and is important for many crucial physiological and chemical processes, but eating should also be a pleasurable experience. Finding the right balance can be difficult, but some self-managed approaches can help.

One concept that has gained popularity is intuitive eating, which dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch created in 1995. Intuitive eating ties in with the mind-body connection, and is an evidence-based practice that suggests listening and reacting to what your body is telling you while eating. In doing so, you can learn to be more in tune with and better address your changing mental and physical needs.

To start, ask yourself: When was the last time you ate intuitively? Stop and listen to your body. What is it telling you? Are you snacking endlessly while watching TV or out of boredom, or do you try to clean your plate so as not to waste food? Do you wait too long between eating, which then leads to overeating at your next meal?

Look internally and observe signs of hunger. When you are in the middle of eating, ask yourself how the food tastes, and how hungry you still are. Respect your body and its fullness.

Eating good food should be enjoyable, so when you are craving that chocolate bar or ice cream, feel free to have some. It will satisfy that craving and likely prevent overeating of other foods that may not be as satisfying. To soothe your craving, slowly eat one to two squares of chocolate instead of the entire bar, or one scoop of ice cream instead of a bowl. Allow yourself, in moderation, to have the foods that you want and the foods that your body needs for a healthy balance[1].

Monica’s Thanksgiving Tips

  • Be conscious while you eat, paying attention to how the food tastes and your hunger level.
  • Allow yourself to eat the foods that your body needs and that you enjoy, but stop when you feel satisfied and have subtle stomach fullness.
  • Enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving dessert! Just eat slowly and savor each bite.
  • Focus on quality rather than quantity. For example, try making a few dishes from scratch rather than an overwhelming amount of dishes from the box.
  • Remember that it is only one meal! Focus on enjoying the good food and company on this holiday rather than stressing about the meal.

[1] Tribole, Evelyn and Elyse Resch. Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works.  St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003.