What is Intutitive Eating?

Everyone knows that the higher your BMI (body mass index) the higher your risk of disease and mortality, right?  So, doesn’t it seem obvious that everyone with a BMI over 25 should be on a diet to help them lose weight?  And, as everyone knows what a healthy diet is, then this can’t be too hard, agreed?

Wrong! Now this is where it gets complicated! 

Firstly, in studies, people with a BMI over 25 have been found to be at greater risk of disease, but this is only a correlation – it does not prove that obesity is the cause, maybe it’s their behaviours that put them at greater risk e.g. lack of exercise because they are made to feel too ashamed to be seen sweating it out.

Secondly, some people with a BMI over 25 may be quite happy at that weight and eat loads of vegetables and exercise daily – why should they change?

And thirdly, everyone might think they know what a healthy diet is, but this is open to interpretation, is unique to the individual depending on their current health status and biological needs and, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.  Plus, once you’ve put on weight it really isn’t that easy to lose it.

Current societal thinking and culture promotes weight loss as a positive thing that everyone should be striving for and if you’ve lost weight then that’s amazing and everyone will congratulate you.  The problem is as a nation we are getting fatter and majority of people that lose weight on a diet put it all back on (and maybe more) within 3-5 years.

Research shows that diets don’t work.  People with books, videos and websites promoting diets and the amazing results they have had are making money, they are selling you a product.  If you can stick to their diet plan you will lose weight because you are reducing your calorie intake, but is it sustainable and is it something you can do without that person/book/website telling you what to eat every day?

There is a huge body of scientific evidence that shows us that BMI is not the only measure of health and that at an individual level BMI is not the best at predicting health outcomes.  We also know that focusing on your weight can have a detrimental impact on your mental health, with people developing a preoccupation with body size and what they eat, which becomes all consuming, taking up much of their time and thoughts.

We also know that not everyone with an eating disorder has a low BMI and that people of all sizes can be suffering from disordered eating which may go undiagnosed, due to the assumption that they simply eat too much and are lazy.

Intuitive eating looks at addressing all these issues.  Intuitive eating essentially means eating whatever you like, with no foods being labelled as good or bad and no diet rules.  Often this means that it is criticised for promoting unhealthy behaviours, but this is usually from people that don’t fully understand the process.  Intuitive Eating is about freeing yourself from the diet culture mentality so that your mental health improves and your love for your body improves and you can start to look after it better.   Once we accept our bodies for how they are currently, we can have healthy behaviours that promote mental and physical health without the number on the scales being the primary measure of this.

Resources to get you started: 

Intuitive Eating A Revolutionary Program That Works (3rd Edition 2012) Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight (2014) Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor

Body Positive Power: How to stop dieting, make peace with your body and live (2017) Megan Jayne Crabbe

Disclaimer: There are lots of books out there on this topic, so take a look at others on Google.  There are also other book shops, but I just thought I’d stick with this one today for ease of making some quick links for you all!  I have no affiliation with any of the authors or Wordery.