Intuitive Eating is written by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA (both dieticians) and is exceptionally well-researched and well-written. Although the book is marketed as a way to "free yourself from chronic dieting forever," it does discuss the idea that many people who believe they are just careful about what they eat are actually still dieting. Intuitive Eating is based on the idea that we all have a biological 'set point' which is our natural, healthy weight and that if we are able to honor both our hunger and satiety, and have an active lifestyle, that our bodies will naturally settle into that healthy weight.
The program uses ten principles to encourage and teach readers how to have a positive body image and a healthy, normal relationship with food.
- Reject the Diet Mentality: Possibly one of the most important (and hardest) principles of the book is to reject the idea that you always need to be watching your weight or always be on a diet.
- Honor Your Hunger: Learning how to recognize physical cues of hunger and feed your body until you are satisfied (rather than when you think you should stop eating) is such an important concept.
- Make Peace With Food: Although most people in today's society believe that there are 'good' foods and 'bad' foods, this principle focuses on the idea that we don't need to give up favorite foods or feel deprived of things we like to eat.
- Challenge the Food Police: The authors name the thoughts that tell us what we should eat and how much to eat the 'food police.' Many eating disorder sufferers will readily identify this voice as their disorder.
- Feel Your Fullness: Just as noticing physical cues for hunger is an important skill to learn, so is learning physical cues for feeling full and satiated.
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor: This principle focuses on allowing oneself to feel pleasure from the experience of eating.
- Cope With Your Emotions Without Using Food: Something that is extremely common both among sufferers of eating disorders and the general population is the tendency to use food to comfort oneself. This principle focuses on learning new coping skills for experiencing negative (and positive) emotions.
- Respect Your Body: Everyone's body is different and accepting the size and shape that your body naturally fits is an important way to stop fighting against it.
- Exercise - Feel The Difference: The authors don't recommend a strict exercise regimen. On the contrary, they offer the idea that including activities that you enjoy in your life will provide you with movement and a work out.
- Honor Your Health - Gentle Nutrition: This principle acknowledges the need to pay some attention to one's intake, in the sense that everyone needs a variety of foods and should eat nutritious food. However, it also allows for an imperfect diet. You don't need to only eat nutritious food. Some food choices can (and should) be made based on taste.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and have found myself using the principles throughout my work with clients as well. It is a very easy to understand and follow book as well. I highly recommend it.
I am hopeful that the authors will include information for parents on teaching intuitive eating to children in future editions or other works. This is an area that isn't addressed in the current edition.
Who is This Book Appropriate For?
This book isn't written specifically for eating disorders so it is appropriate for many people who are struggling with diet cycling and food issues but may not have a diagnosed eating disorder. However, the principles are also extremely helpful for people who are suffering from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder as well. It would also be helpful for the loved one's of someone struggling with disordered eating or food issues as well as it is important for others to understand that dieting isn't the answer.
Update for the 3rd Edition: In July 2012, a 3rd Edition of Intuitive Eating was released. The message remains the same. However, two new chapters have been added regarding how to raise an intuitive eater with suggestions for parents and a chapter on using intuitive eating as part of one’s treatment and recovery from an eating disorder. These chapters answer many of the questions I had following the earlier edition. I am so excited that the authors added this information and would fully recommend purchasing a new copy of the book even if you already have an older edition.
Tribole, E. & Resch, E.(2012). Intuitive eating: A revolutionary program that works. New York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin.