Eating Disorders Recovery Today
studies show that trusting and satisyingone’s physical hunger causes an increasein well-being, both physically andmentally. For example, Brigham YoungUniversity researchers looked at therelationship between intuitive eatingand the quality o the diet in 343 col-lege students. Their results did not in-dicate poor nutritional choices. Rather,these stu-dents hada greaterdiversityin eating,more sat-isaction,and health-ier bodyweights.In 2006, a larger study on nearly1,300 college women by Tracy Tylkarom Ohio State University, demon-strated similar ndings. Intuitive eat-ers were ound to be more optimistic,had better sel-esteem, a lower bodymass index (BMI), and were less likelyto internalize our culture’s unrealisticthin ideal.While these results may seem surpris-ing, it is something that the Frenchare well known or—they regularlyconsume oods considered “attening”or “unhealthy” by American standards.Ironically, the French also have someo the lowest rates o obesity and heartdisease.In 1999, Paul Rozin rom the Uni-versity o Pennsylvania explored howood unctions in the minds and lives o people rom our countries: USA, Japan,Belgium, and France (Japan was chosenbecause the Japanese have the longestlie expectancy). Rozin ound thatAmericans have the greatest concernabout health and the most dissatisac-tion with eating. They worry the mostabout attening eects o ood and asso-ciate it most with health and least withpleasure. But the French were ound tobe the most pleasure-oriented and leasthealth-oriented (hence the popularterm French Paradox). These attitudesmay be an important, yet overlookedcontributor to overall happiness.Rozin concluded that worries andobsessions regarding diet might becounterproductive. Several studieshave also demonstrated that anxietyincreases stress chemicals in the blood,which has a wide-range o negative e-ects on the body, rom infammationto depression.
Applying Intuitive Eating to Your Life
So, how do you balance creating apositive re-lationshipwith ood,while alsoconsider-ing nutri-tion? Sev-eral actorscome tomind:
Getting in touch with your in-ternal satiety cues o hunger andullness.
Discovering satisaction in eat-ing.
Using nutrition inormation with-out judgment.Many times, “healthy eating” or“better nutrition” is code or dieting.Consequently, i you ocus solely onthese actors, without considering yourinternal body cues o what would bestsatisy hunger, you can easily eel de-prived. This in turn may increase crav-ings and thoughts o ood, overeating,dieting, and heighten anxiety aroundsnacks and meals. Try to answer thesequestions when considering what toeat: I I eat this ood or meal now, willit satisy and sustain me? Is my bodymeal-hungry or snack-hungry? Howdo I want to eel physically aterwards?What have my past experiences shownme?Answers to these questions will guideyou on making the best ood choicesbased on your body’s needs. Whateveryou decide to eat, take note i it metyour expectations, which helps to cre-ate a meaningul learning experience.For example, i you were meal-hungryand choose to drink a smoothie—didit sustain you until your next meal?Given the same circumstances and whatyou learned, would you make a similarchoice? Paying attention to these ex-periences will also help you build trustwith your body.When you are attuned to your body,as well as armed with the knowledgethat you can truly give it what it needs,you will possess the clarity to make e-ective choices. You will be able to askyoursel: I I am meal-hungry, wouldbags o potato chips truly satisy andeel good physically? I I am ravenous,would
a salad meet my body’sneeds? I I have a sweet tooth, wouldraspberries really curb my craving?When you can enjoy ood with uncon-ditional permission, the process o eatingbecomes emotionally neutral—and youdo not eel good or bad based on whatyou eat. You also understand that onemeal will not make or break your health,or your weight. All too oten, there isa negative perception regarding eatingcertain oods, resulting in guilt. Butwhen judgment (and guilt) is removed,i you’ve eaten the wrong thing or toomuch, it is not a catastrophe rom whichto recover and/or perorm nutritionalpenance. You are no longer caught up inthese thoughts. Ultimately, intuitive eat-ing eels good, which is sel-reinorcing.Remember, when you can truly eat in-tuitively, it doesn’t take much chocolateto satisy a sweet tooth.
Hawks, ST et al. The relationship betweenintuitive eating and health indicatorsamong college women. Am. J. HealthEduc. 2006;26:322-324.Rozin, P. et al. Attitudes to Food and therole o ood in the lie in the USA, Japan,Flemish Belgium and France: PossibleImplications or the Diet-Health debate.Appetite, 1999 (33):163-180.Tylka, TL. Development and psychomet-ric evaluation o a measure o intui-tive eating. J Counseling Psych, 2006;53(2):226.
Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD,
is co-author of
Intuitive Eating 2
(2003) and the newaudio companion with added material andguided practices:
Intuitive Eating: A Practical Guide,
released in January 2009.
Intuitive eaters were more optimistic,had better self-esteem, and were lesslikely to internalize our culture’sunrealistic thin ideal.