Intuitive Eating and Influence on Body Image

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

meat-569073_640Intuitive eating is a nutrition practice that is primarily based on the idea that becoming more attuned to the body’s natural hunger signals is a more effective way to reach a healthy weight. This is opposed to a dieting mentality that often suggests that keeping track of calories, fats, etc. and monitoring everything that is consumed is a way to achieve a healthy body weight.

While intuitive eating may seem a foreign concept in a culture that is diet-obsessed, it is important to consider this philosophy for making peace with food and body. Intuitive eating is founded on ten basic principles, which are understood as follows1:

Reject the Diet Mentality:

In a society that is saturated with a dieting mentality, becoming an intuitive eater and making peace with your body begins with a rejection of the many lies that are often fed through the mainstream. The reality is that diets do not work and only lead to chaotic relationships with food and your body.

Honor Your Hunger:

Making peace with your body through intuitive eating must happen by honoring your body’s natural hunger cues and feeding your body adequately. Eating a variety of foods ensures that the body is getting what it needs to prevent excessive hunger and a primal drive to overeat. Honoring basic hunger cues is necessary to making peace with your body.

Make Peace with Food:

Family_eating_lunch_(2)Instead of fighting against your body’s cravings to eat certain foods, learning to become an intuitive eater begins by giving yourself unconditional permission to eat the foods you want.

Challenge the Food Police:

Whether external or internal, the food police patrols what, when, where, and how you eat. The food police is often a critical voice about things you eat and induces feelings of guilt and shame for eating. Challenging this voice is needed to make peace with food.

Respect Your Fullness:

Taking the time to check in with how you are feeling during a meal important aspect of regulating your intake and understanding when to stop eating. Our bodies have naturally built in cues that will help prevent overeating – we need just respect these cues.

Discover the Satisfaction Factor:

Food is meant to be both pleasurable and nourishing. By rediscovering the satisfactory elements of food, such as tastes, textures, etc. this can change the experience with food into a more positive one.

Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food:

attractive woman breathing and relaxingFood is often used to soothe, distract, or ignore emotions, such as anger, loneliness, boredom, anxiety, sadness, and more.

Finding healthy and therapeutic ways to cope with emotions outside of using food can help rebuild a healthy relationship with food and body.

Respect Your Body:

Learning to respect the body’s natural size and shape is an important part of making peace with food and rebuilding a healthy body image. Respecting your individual body begins by breaking away from society’s messages that we must conform to a certain body size or shape.

Exercise – Feel the Difference:

Finding activity that reenergizes you and that you enjoy participating in (rather than exercising for the purpose of burning calories) is also a helpful key to building a healthy body image.

Honor your Health:

Making peace with food and your body and aiming for progress rather than perfection are key to honoring your health.

Learning the basic principles of intuitive eating can set the foundation for rebuilding a healthy body image and reestablishing a positive relationship with food. If you or someone you love has been struggling with a chaotic relationship food and body, consider how the basic principles of intuitive eating can help you heal and restore this relationship.

Community Discussion: Share your thoughts here!

How do you think intuitive eating can serve in promoting a healthy and positive body image? What thoughts or questions do you have about intuitive eating and integrating this practice in your daily life?


  1. Intuitive Eating, “10 Principles of Intuitive Eating”, Accessed 24 June 2015

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 7th, 2015
Published on