It’s nearly Halloween, which serves as the terrifying prelude to Eating Season, the time of year from Thanksgiving to early February when every gathering seems to involve large quantities of rich, delicious food. Halloween itself comes with the indulgences of mini candy bars, caramel apples, and the ever-divisive candy corn. And for many people, with all this indulgence comes the mental backlash of weight anxiety, the urge to try a new diet promising an ideal body with just One Weird Trick—Keto, Raw Foods, Intermittent Fasting, and more.
However, jumping into new diets without consulting a nutritionist may be counterproductive. The rules may feel arbitrary, the eating patterns may not always be healthy, and any setbacks may have negative impacts on mental health. The UF/IFAS Food Science and Human Nutrition Department has recently published a primer on intuitive eating, an “eating framework” supported by over 100 studies over the last 25 years.
Intuitive eating means listening to your body
Intuitive eating doesn’t prescribe what foods you can eat or when, instead focusing on one’s relationship to food, one’s mind, and one’s body. (That’s part of what makes it a framework rather than a diet.) The framework includes ten principles:
- Reject the Diet Mentality
- Honor Your Hunger
- Make Peace with Food
- Challenge the Food Police
- Feel Your Fullness
- Discover the Satisfaction
- Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
- Respect Your Body
- Movement—Feel the Difference
- Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition
These principles, when applied thoughtfully, encourage you to think about your food cues—when you’re hungry, when you’re full, when you’re just bored—and to think about food, exercise, and body image as they relate to your health, not an arbitrary set of external standards. Ultimately, the goal is to create a positive relationship with food as something to be enjoyed without guilt or abandon.
The EDIS article “Exploring Intuitive Eating” includes helpful tips and questions to ask yourself regarding each of the principles of the framework. It also provides many follow-up resources, including source material from the dietitians who developed it.
For more information on healthy eating, check out the Ask IFAS topic page on Eating Well, featuring topics such as Healthy Meals and Snacks, Vegetarianism, Diets and Dieting, and more. And for everything else, just Ask IFAS!