What are the benefits of intuitive eating? And is intuitive eating “healthy” for you?
The intuitive eating framework has been praised for its ability to work through tough feelings around the relationship with food and body.
It has a powerful impact on addressing restrictive and negative mindsets around eating and has given many the ability to experience food freedom and get back in tune with their bodies.
There is no doubt that intuitive eating is beneficial for many in healing their relationships with food and facilitating body acceptance and peace.
One of the most commonly asked questions we get isn’t whether intuitive eating “works” but whether or not it is actually good for you. You know that it can make a huge impact on your relationship with food and your body, but is it “healthy”?
Keep reading to learn about the benefits that intuitive eating can have on both your physical and mental well-being!
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Is Intuitive Eating Healthy?
To answer this, it may be helpful to think about what “healthy” means to you. Everyone has a different definition of health, and it’s important to understand what your interpretation is.
Is it working out for 60 minutes 5 days a week? Is it eating only “clean” foods while restricting other foods? Does “healthy” for you mean a body that is a certain weight or shape?
Take a moment to reflect on what your definition of health is and how it is obtained.
In our practice, to be healthy is to be physically and emotionally free from disordered eating behaviors, to eat a varied and nourishing diet to support your physical health that is also enjoyable and intuitive, and to accept and respect your current body.
Health doesn’t have a look, and a body can be healthy and incorporate health-promoting behaviors, regardless of weight or size. There is much more to an individual’s health status outside of how their body looks.
Looking for more intuitive eating content? Check out our post on common misconceptions in intuitive eating next!
Benefits of Intuitive Eating
Below are some examples of how intuitive eating improves overall health. There are many more beyond this, check out the IE website for the most up to date research!
Benefits of intuitive eating include:
- Improved cholesterol levels. Studies show that intuitive eating can result in an improvement in cholesterol levels. Cholesterol levels play a major role in the development of heart disease and the incidence of a heart attack or stroke.
- Lower blood pressure. Intuitive eating can lead to lower blood pressure which lowers the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease.
- Reduced markers of inflammation. Intuitive eaters have shown in studies to have decreased markers of inflammation. Inflammatory markers are used to detect inflammation in the body, which may be caused by disease or infection.
- Improving psychological well being. Can you imagine the hypothetical weight lifted from your shoulders when you realize your body is no longer the enemy? When the war is finally over, you realize that your current body can be healthy and your weight is not tied to your morality or characteristics. This study from 2018 assessed the psychological outcomes of two groups of women who desired and were pursuing intentional weight loss. One group received a HAES (Health at Every Size) intervention. The intervention included meetings on intuitive eating and self-acceptance while the other group did not receive an intervention. The evaluation showed the individuals in the HAES intervention had improvements in eating habits, depression, and self esteem.
- Decreased incidence of weight cycling. Weight fluctuations are common with chronic dieting or “yo-yo dieting” but can have negative impacts on your overall health. Repeated weight loss and gain can contribute to excessive weight gain, slower metabolism, and cardiovascular risk. It is a bit ironic how the very thing many people think will make them “healthy” is actually in direct opposition to it.
Benefits of Intuitive Eating: The Takeaway
Not only is intuitive eating a way to take back your life from diet culture or disordered eating, it is also a way to support your overall health!
If you are looking to learn more about intuitive eating, check out our Nourished Body Basics Course! It includes a complete rundown on getting started with healing your relationship with food and your body.
Have you tried to incorporate intuitive eating into your life and are struggling with how it all comes together? Consider working one on one with a weight-neutral registered dietitian in our unique Intuitive Eating Program!
Written by Emily Adkisson, RDN