6 signs that you're not eating intuitively

Working with eating disorders has really got me thinking about eating intuitively. What does being intuitive actually mean? Is that one of the goals we thrive to achieve, with regards to food and our relationship with food?


This has had me thinking about whether I'm 100% intuitive. How intuitive are all the clients that don't have eating disorders? And how intuitive are all those 'foodie' people on Instagram? I've decided to, therefore, list some contributing factors that I feel most affect being able to use the term Intuitive Eating for you to look through and see if any apply to you.

1. Hunger

Are you eating because you're hungry? Have you actually taken a minute to think about how your body feels before you eat a meal, or are you eating out of habit or because it's the 'right time' for lunch for example?

Our bodies adapt to routine and, generally, we have set meals at certain times. But how hungry are you? Ravenous? So hungry you can't function? Or actually just mildly peckish and eating because it's your routine?

Being intuitive is being able to be in touch with your body honouring when you're hungry and when you're not. This is not only eating when you're hungry but also stopping when your body is full. That might mean not finishing your plate of food or not having some pudding after dinner because it's habit but, actually, because you've paused for a second and realised your body is full.

2. Checking labels

Are you able to pick up something in a supermarket/shop and not check the packet? Not see how many calories there are in it or how much protein it will provide you with. Picking something up and basing your decision to buy it should be based on anything other than the calorific value. What's the cost? Can you have it for dinner? Do you have something it can be eaten with?

3. Cravings

Are you in touch with what your body fancies? Do you really want that chocolate muffin with your latte and, if so, why aren't you choosing it? Being able to understand our bodies and what they crave is being able to be intuitive, restricting yourself or not allowing things you want will lead to you feeling 'guilty' when you do give in to forbidden cravings.

4. 'Good' and 'bad' foods

Do you label food as 'good' and 'bad'? Or perhaps you have some 'naughty treats' in a cupboard? Enabling a mindset that separates foods into good and bad categories has created a distorted relationship with food. No foods are bad and nothing should be completely cut out of your life, especially if it's something that you enjoy the taste of.

Make peace with food. Restricting bad foods can lead to bingeing and feelings of shame when they are consumed. Make choices based on taste and what makes you feel good. A perfect diet isn't all bout being the healthiest, but having the healthiest mindset.

5. Punishing yourself for eating food

Did you have a piece of someone's birthday cake at work and now thinking about it? Are you now going to punish yourself by compromising on what you eat for your dinner or going to the gym to 'burn it off'? Creating a reward-type system with food is unhealthy and can lead to restrictive behaviours or an ongoing cycle of binge eating.

6. Emotionally eating

Do you use food to cope with a certain feeling? Boredom? Anger? Sadness? Stress? Food is satisfying and can be comforting, however, it's not a problem solver. Being intuitive with food isn't using food as a coping mechanism, but enjoying it for what it is and the nutrition it provides.

There are, of course, a tonne more! But I think this gives a good insight into whether or not you are an intuitive eater or not.

I fear a lot of people who follow certain diet trends or count macros/calories think they might be eating intuitively because they can fit a doughnut into their daily allowance or they will 'balance it out' with other foods or exercise - but this has created a really bad relationship with food.

If you have to really think about what you're eating or overanalyse what you're eating, you're not being intuitive. We need to be able to eat food without giving ourselves permission! We have enough rules and regulations in our day-to-day lives, so don't make food become one of them! Trust yourself and go with how your body feels.

Find a nutrition professional who can help you with Intuitive Eating.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, SW10 9UU
Written by Rebecca Jennings, MSc ANutr
London, SW10 9UU

Any questions or advice, feel free to email me: lovetoeatnutrition@gmail.com

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