Intuitive Eating is a concept intended to help clients with eating disorders and unhealthy food-related behaviors learn to trust their bodies to tell them what they need. It relies on the assumption that your body knows what it needs, and therefore it’s safe to trust your intuition when it comes to eating behaviors.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating describes the concept of eating without limitation, boundary, or rule – simply eating what you feel like eating, when you feel like it.
Instead of going on a predetermined, rigorous diet, clients who practice Intuitive Eating listen to their bodies. If they’re hungry, that means that it’s time to eat. If they find themselves craving something salty, it means that their body needs that type of food.
Intuitive Eating as a therapeutic approach is helpful for many clients who struggle with eating disorders or harmful eating behaviors. It instills trust in the self, rather than relying on external stimuli for a natural physical function. Intuitive Eating therapy also aims to minimize self-judgment, shame, guilt, and other negative emotional reactions that may arise so a client can completely focus on their overall health goals.
What happens in an Intuitive Eating therapy session?
Therapists who use Intuitive Eating with clients teach them about the biology of eating. This includes what happens in the body when food is ingested as well as what happens in the brain when someone is hungry. This encourages clients to see the larger picture around eating, so they can approach their own eating habits with an educated objectivity.
Therapists will also encourage clients to listen to their bodies. Therapists and clients may review the client’s physical cues through the week, including but not limited to hunger. As clients begin to listen to their bodies, their eating behaviors may change. Therapists are there to help clients recognize this change and continue to progress towards an Intuitive Eating mindset. Therapists are also there to encourage clients to maintain healthy behaviors, monitor food intake and physical health, and empower clients to feel good about themselves and their actions.
As with many mental health treatments, clients may find themselves experiencing new emotions, especially with the change in behavior. Intuitive Eating therapists are there to help clients process through these emotions and address any negative emotions that happen because of the new patterns.
What can Intuitive Eating therapy help with?
Intuitive Eating is a helpful therapeutic approach for clients who struggle with eating disorders or harmful eating behaviors. However, it’s also a great addition to the therapy journeys for clients who struggle with low self-esteem, self image issues, low self-worth, and a damaged mind-body connection.
Because Intuitive Eating relies on physical cues, it’s a practice in mindfulness. This means that it’s helpful for all clients who would like to further their self-awareness practice. However, most Intuitive Eating therapists use this approach with clients who suffer from eating-related issues.
Because of the severity of eating-related mental health conditions, it’s highly important that you find a certified Intuitive Eating therapist when engaging in this type of therapy. Therapists who have additional training in Intuitive Eating offer more effective support for their clients and ensure that clients maintain healthy eating habits to keep them going strong as they go about their mental health journeys.