Book Review: Intuitive Eating

March 17, 2014

The more satisfied you are when eating, the less you will think about food when you are not hungry–you will no longer be on the prowl.

I’m going to give a little background for why, exactly, I read this book just to give an idea of why it impacted me so much. I don’t normally get this personal on the blog, so bear with me.

I was doing a lot of compulsive, emotional eating and, when I stopped doing that, I realized that I had a lot of fear around food—about eating the right food or about eating too much or not enough. In fact, I felt like I was constantly undereating and misjudging how much food I needed. I would pack what I thought was a good lunch only to get to work and realize that one small porkchop and one sweet potato were somehow, surprisingly, not enough to get me through the rest of the day. And that was happening more often than I would like. In my quest not to overeat, I had gone a little bit too much the other way and was at a loss for how to make sure I was getting enough food.

Intuitive Eating by by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

Tracking my food (through all the various means) makes me crazy and kind of obsessive, so I knew I needed a professional. Hence, I contacted a dietitian.

During our first session, she told me that she promotes permissive eating and told me to read Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. So I did. And I can honestly say this book changed my life.

(Note: I read the second edition of the book. There’s a new third edition available.)

Let me say up front that I had heard the phrase “intuitive eating” before, but it never occurred to me that there might be a book on it or that it had a basis in anything other than some idea of what/how people should eat. I mean, it just sounds like the sort of thing that makes sense. Of course I need to eat intuitively! So I would say that and not really understand what it meant.

Basically, the point of intuitive eating is that you stop relying on external cues for hunger/fullness, and you start learning and listening to your body’s cues for hunger/fullness. It moves everything from your head (i.e., I should/shouldn’t eat x, y, z) to your actual body.

In other words, stop dieting. But they don’t just say “stop dieting.” They also give research that shows the effects of dieting on physical and mental health. And they show you exactly how intuitive eating works and how to start doing it.

(They also don’t refer to sweets as “junk food” but instead as “play food.” Junk = bad, see? Ah, the power of language.)

So how did this book change my life?

  • I have stopped having guilt around when/how I eat. (Although I never thought of food as “good” or “bad,” I kept feeling bad if I got hungry before a certain amount of time.)
  • My relationship to the gym has completely changed. Because—just like with food—if I  move the focus to how exercising makes my body feel instead of the fact that I should be doing it, then I can focus on doing it because I want to. For example, I recently added in resistance training with the weight machines again because I remembered that I liked how strong I felt when I did it–and not because that’s what you’re supposed to do to lose weight (which is why I did it in the past). I have stopped thinking so much about losing weight and more about what makes me feel good.
  • I am still working with the dietitian to recognize my hunger cues and to learn how to tell I’ve had enough food for the activities I have scheduled for any given day. (None of these methods include counting calories.)

Some other thoughts:

My mom has diabetes and wants to read this book, so I was thinking about how this book would apply to her situation. I think the general principle is the same even with the restrictions diabetes (or another health condition) brings. Because if I know a food makes me feel physically bad when I eat it, then I figure out either how I can have that food without it making me feel physically bad or I find something else I want to eat. (Geneen Roth tried to make this point in Women Food and God, but she used a lot of foofy language to do so.)

Also, if someone has a serious eating disorder, the book offers lots of resources for finding help and support.

In conclusion: I recommend the book, definitely. The book is super accessible, easy to  read, and, most importantly, practical.

Some other reviews:

Source: Library

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1 Comment

  1. Vasilly

    I’ve heard of intuitive eating but didn’t realize it was a book. I too have a problem with emotional and overeating. I’m going to add this to my tbr list and see if my library has it.


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