Intuitive Eating: What is it?

Intuitive Eating: What is it?
photo: Bruce Tuten, Creative Commons
photo: Bruce Tuten, Creative Commons

You may or may not have heard of “intuitive eating.”

It’s a term coined by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch in their book Intuitive Eating: a Revolutionary Program That Works, first published in 1995.

Many clients ask me what it is exactly. Intuitive eating is very easy to define: eating when you are hungry and stopping eating when you are full. Sounds so basic, right? Well, not so much.

Intuitive eating is, in fact, very difficult for many people.

In order to be an intuitive eater, you must be in touch with your body, in touch with your own hunger signals and also your body’s signals of when it is full.

These concepts are not that easy for those who have learned to use food as a coping mechanism: comforting themselves with food, using food to deal with stress or emotions. Many of my clients are so disconnected from their bodies that they can’t imagine eating intuitively, because they don’t trust their bodies to give them accurate signals of hunger and fullness.

We all began life as intuitive eaters.

Think about it.

If you’ve been around babies you’ll understand this. A baby knows when it’s hungry and will let others know. A baby also knows when it’s had enough and will refuse to eat anymore.

So, what happened?

Why are so many people walking around completely unable to tell when they are hungry and when they are full?

The question of “why” is a complicated one and also very individualized. Answering that question for yourself will begin your journey towards becoming an intuitive eater.

Don’t be afraid to seek the assistance of a qualified counselor or support group during this process.


Stacey Wald, LAPC, RD


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