Mindful Eating VS Intuitive Eating

Mindful Eating VS Intuitive Eating

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If you are tired of restrictive diets and are willing to dive into a sustainable eating habit that will save you time and money and improve your overall health, continue reading! The good news is that you already have what it takes! You just need to slow down and tap into your inner senses. Mindful Eating VS Intuitive Eating will review the science behind these sustainable eating habits that will improve the quality of your life.

Learning to pay attention to your own body’s signals is not as easy as you think it would be after years of dieting and/or ignoring your own body’s messages. This article will review the principles of Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating, tips to get started as well as uncover the differences.

What is Mindful Eating? 

According to The Center of Mindful Eating “Mindfulness is the capacity to bring full attention and awareness to ones’ experience, in the moment, without judgment. Mindful Eating brings mindfulness to the food choice and experience of eating.

Mindful eating helps us become aware of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations related to eating, reconnecting us with our innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety. “ The Center for Mindful Eating – Home

Mindful Eating is a sustainable and realistic approach to food and food behaviors built on the foundation of enjoyment and creating a healthy relationship with food. Come to the eating experience curious and ready to listen and connect with your body. This allows us to tune into the tastes and textures of the meal as well as the nourishing aspects of the food.

Every eating experience is unique and there is no right or wrong feeling. Mindful Eating focuses more on how a person engages with food, their body, and the eating experience all together. It helps us reconnect with our innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety and learn to trust your body signals and reinforces self-care, self-compassion, and self-respect.

University of Massachusetts researcher Jon Kabot-Zinn is considered the founding father of bringing mindfulness into the modern era. He established The Center for Mindfulness in the late 1970’s. In the 1990’s, his best-selling book, Full Castrophe Living he describes mindful eating in a few pages including how to eat a raisin using a mindful approach.

Mindful Eating encourages you to trust your decision about food instead of being restricted by rules about what and when to eat. Mindful Eating is not a trademarked diet program and should not be promoted for weight loss.

Mindful Eating Principles: 

Each principle can be attempted individually or collectively with small, simple changes.

  • Take time to relax and enjoy the moment of eating without outside distractions.
  • Take a moment to clear your head and appreciate the food that you are about to be      eating.
  •  Practice gratitude and offer thanks before you eat the meal.
  •  Savor foods tastes and textures.
  • Experiencing food with 5 senses. Take note of the appearance, aroma, texture, flavor, and sounds of your food.
  •  Eating slowly and chewing more thoroughly, taking smaller bites or setting down utensils between bites.
  •  Paying close attention to the body’s hunger in fullness cues while eating.
  •  Acknowledging feeling about or response to various foods without judgment.

 When beginning mindful eating take a moment and check in with your body for the first bites and then again midway through and then towards the end of your eating experience. During each check in consider the following:

  • How am I feeling? Stressed, anxious, relaxed, tired, in a hurry?
  • What is motivating me to eat? Am I physically hungry? Am I craving something specific? Am I looking for comfort? Or am I bored? Am I eating now because I don’t have time to eat later?
  • Where has this food come from? Take time to appreciate the privilege of having access to food.
  •  What do I enjoy about this food? What do I dislike about this food? Is this food satisfying to me?
  •  How hungry or full do I feel? Am I satisfied? Have I had enough, or should I go back for more?
  •  How does this food or meal make me feel physically and emotionally?

What are the benefits to Mindful Eating? 

  •  Increases your food appreciation and enjoyment.
  •  Helps you understand your motivation for eating whether it is true physical hunger cravings or emotional eating.
  •  Decreases the feelings of guilt and shame around food by identifying the non-nutrition benefits of food.
  •  It will help you determine what foods truly are good for your unique body system.
  •  Improved self-control, self-regulation particularly regarding stress.
  •  Reduced emotional eating behaviors and binge eating.
  •  Linked to weight loss, however it is a weight neutral practice.
  •  Better management of type two diabetes.
  •  Reduced stress about food.
  •  Improved digestion.
  •  It can help picky eaters learn to enjoy more nutritious foods.

What is Intuitive Eating?

We were all born intuitive eaters. When we were young, we were able to trust our body cues to let us know when we were hungry and needed food. And then we would push food away when we felt full. Unfortunately, these messages get derailed by fad diets and the messages about foods being good or bad and we lose touch with our intuitive eater skills.

The term Intuitive Eating, originally developed by dietitians Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, focuses on the skill of awareness and the overall eating experience by honoring your hunger and feeling your fullness, discovering the satisfaction factor.

Intuitive eating also has a much wider context than just paying attention to your internal signals by including rejecting the diet mentality, using nutritional information without judgement, respecting your body regardless of shape, using physical activity for the sake of feeling good.

Intuitive eating is an evidenced based approach to eating that helps improve your relationship with food through attunement of mind, body, and food. For more information on Intuitive Eating see What Is Intuitive Eating? The Good, the Bad and the Key Takeaway for Success! – Waistline Dietitian and Intuitive Eating Weight Loss – Waistline Dietitian

Intuitive Eating includes 10 comprehensive principles that extend much deeper than mindful eating that includes an anti-diet, weight inclusive approach and is aligned with the Health at Every Size movement. For a more information on Health at Every Size see: HAES: Part One. A brief overview of Health at Every Size – Waistline Dietitian; HAES Movement – Waistline Dietitian; and HAES: Eating for Well-Being – Waistline Dietitian.

Intuitive Eating is an evidenced based approach to eating that helps improve your relationship with food through attunement of mind, body, and food.

4 key aspects of Intuitive Eating:

  1. Unconditional permission to eat when hungry and whatever food you desire.
  2. Eating for physical reasons.
  3. Using internal hunger and satiety cues to determine when and how much to eat.
  4. Feel-good food. Body-food choice congruence: Choosing food that feels good to your body. This requires self-awareness. When you are mildly hungry you may consider the food option:
  • How did my body feel after eating this meal?
  • Did I like the feeling?
  • Were there any ill effects? For example, did I feel bloated, tired or have any gastrointestinal symptoms after eating this food in the past?
  • Do I have more energy eating this?
  • Does it make me feel energized or do I feel hungry soon after? 

The messages from your body are profound. When you learn to tap into these messages, you will be naturally drawn to foods that serve your body well more often.

The 10 core principles of Intuitive Eating:

  1. Reject the diet mentality. Recognizing the damage that dieting causes not only to our physical health but also to our mental and emotional health is the first step towards rebuilding a healthy relationship with food. Learning to identify all the different forms of diet culture and diet mentality in our daily life. Resist falling prey to any diet/way of eating that promises weight loss.
  2. Honor your hunger. Start by checking in with your body throughout the day to see if we notice any signs of hunger. Knowing the signs of hunger can help you ensure that you address them. One of the reasons dieting doesn’t work is because it leaves you feeling hungry and deprived. This can trigger the drive to overeating or feelings of being out of control with food later. For more information about honoring your true hunger see Hunger VS Appetite: 13 Tips To Tame Your Appetite – Waistline Dietitian.
  3. Make peace with food. Avoid depriving yourself from certain foods. Knowing that nothing is off limits and giving yourself unconditional permission to eat. This can help lessen uncontrollable craving for the forbidden foods.
  4. Challenge the food police. There are no foods off limits. There are no “good” or “bad” foods. There is no moral value associated with food!
  5. Discover the satisfaction factor. Give yourself permission to seek pleasure in your eating experience. This helps you enjoy your meal and then move on to other things in your day unrelated to food.
  6. Feel your fullness. Take time while eating to recognize what it feels like to be full and comfortably full and reject the need to finish the food on your plate. Take a moment to pause and reflect how you are feeling and honor your body.
  7. Cope with your emotions with kindness. There’s nothing wrong with eating for emotional reasons and using food for comfort, but you may find that eating doesn’t address the root causes of the problems. Identify your motivations for eating and see if an emotional need is not being met. You may be needing more sleep at night, or you just need to talk to somebody. Consider other coping strategies that you could use during these times in place of eating.
  8. Respect to your body. Over time, body respect and acceptance can turn into appreciation and a loving relationship with your body. Consider how you can show your body respect each day by meeting its basic needs for health. Over time, body respect and acceptance can help you care for and appreciate your body.
  9. Movement to feel the difference. Moving your body in an enjoyable and sustainable way can help you feel strong and energized. Movement should not be used as punishment after food eaten to burn calories but purely for enjoyment and to help you feel good.
  10. Honor your health with gentle nutrition. Choosing foods that you enjoy and are satisfying to you and help you feel energized. You will be naturally drawn to foods that serve your body well more often. Plan what food you are going to have and when before you become overly hungry. Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are 80% full to honor your body- and realize it takes about 20 minutes for your fullness to settle in. Use a combination of nutrition knowledge such as getting enough good healthy fiber and honoring your hunger and satisfaction and fullness cues will help. Note: Gentle nutrition is the last stage for a reason. It is essential to heal your relationship with food and your body first so that you are able to consider nutrition choices from a place of self-care and not restriction. 

Intuitive eating is about eating in a way that makes you feel your best both physically and mentally. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and don’t go to any great extremes.  Intuitive eating philosophy operates on the idea that we, as individuals, know what foods will make us feel best and often those are the same nutritious foods that are encouraged.

It is possible to engage in Mindful Eating without becoming an Intuitive Eater if you already have a good relationship with food and can
It is possible to engage in Mindful Eating without becoming an Intuitive Eater if you already have a good relationship with food.

What are the benefits of Intuitive Eating? 

  • Sustainable approach to improving your relationship with food.
  • Reduced binge eating, and intuitive eating is often used during eating disorder recovery to help repair the broken relationship with food.
  • Helps you maintain the weight that is right for you. Research has indicated Intuitive Eaters tend to have a lower body mass index and maintain a more stable weight.
  • Increased health outcomes including lower triglycerides, increased HDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure.
  • Diet with improved nutritious choices. Gentle nutrition by choosing foods that you enjoy and satisfy you is just as important as choosing groups that are jam packed full of nutrition that promote physical health. Using a combination of nutrition knowledge and internal hunger signals helps you reach a better relationship with food long term. You will learn what foods keep you satisfied longer. You will learn what foods don’t agree with you. What foods give you energy and what foods make you feel worse after you eat them.
  • Reduced food stress, lower levels of body image concerns, decreased emotional eating.
  • A connection to your hunger and satiety cues.
  • Improved levels of self-esteem and body image.
  • Lower levels of disordered eating, body image concerns.

Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating similarities: 

They both focus on the innate internal processes of listening to your body cues.

They are both sustainable approaches to an overall healthy relationship with food.

They do not promote food judgment, restriction or promise weight loss.

They both have health and well-being benefits.

Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating differences: 

If you have an eating disorder or have been on diets for years, it will be difficult to be non-judgmental with food and eating. You will need work through the first 8 steps of the Intuitive Eating principles to help you work through the disordered relationship with food first. Mindful Eating requires you to be non-judgmental with your meal.

Both Mindfulness and Intuitive Eating require “awareness”:

The underlying skill needed to eat mindfully or intuitively is awareness or the practice of mindfulness. This interoceptive awareness is the awareness of the inner body sensations, involving the sensory process of receiving, accessing, and appraising internal body signals. Learning to listen to these internal signals is developed through mindfulness practice.

This “awareness” arises out of paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Paying attention in a way that helps you to create balance for insight. Mindfulness teaches us to not judge ourselves and to not suffer unnecessarily. The four foundations of mindfulness are: mindfulness of the body; feelings; mind; objects. So, in a sense, mindfulness is an essential place to begin this journey.

The Dynamic Duo: Mastering both is the key:

It is possible to engage in mindful eating without becoming an intuitive eater, however intuitive eating is not possible without mindfulness. If you are starting this journey with a poor relationship with food due to years of chronic dieting, then it would be helpful to work through the first 8 steps of Intuitive Eating, to help improve your relationship with food so you can be free of judgment during your mindful eating experience.

Intuitive Eating encompasses the principles of Mindful Eating but extends further to repair your emotional relationship with food so you can begin the eating experience in a non-judgmental way! (Which is needed with mindful eating).

Adopting health promoting habits rooted in self-care will encourage foods that serve you and help foster sustainable enjoyable nutrition choices that are both good for you and satisfying for your taste buds. Stay focused on progress and not perfection. This is a journey of self-care, and it is an inside job!

If you are starting this journey with a poor relationship with food due to dieting, then it would be helpful to work through the Intuitive Eating steps to repair your relationship with food to help ood-relationship-with--can-be-non-judgmental-

Books to help get you started: 

Tribole,Evelyn. Intuitive Eating. A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach. 4th edition. 2020. St Martins Publishing Gro

Tribole, Evelyn, and Elyse Resch. The intuitive eating workbook: Ten principles for nourishing a healthy relationship with food. New Harbinger Publications, 2017.

Tribole, Evelyn. Intuitive Eating for Every Day: 365 Daily Practices & Inspirations to Rediscover the Pleasures of Eating. Chronicle Books, 2021.

Hartley, Rachael. Gentle Nutrition: A Non-Diet Approach to Healthy Eating. Victory Belt Publishing, 2021.

Bays JC. Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food. Revised edition. Boulder (CO): Shambhala; 2017.

Fletcher M. The Core Concepts of Mindful Eating: The Professional Edition. Epping (NH): Megrette.com; 2017.

Bays JC. Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food. Revised edition. Boulder (CO): Shambhala; 2017.

Fletcher M. The Core Concepts of Mindful Eating: The Professional Edition. Epping (NH): Megrette.com; 2017.

Mulligan BA. The Dharma of Modern Mindfulness: Discovering the Buddhist Teachings at the Heart of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Oakland (CA): New Harbinger Publications, Inc.; 2018.
Rossey L. The Mindfulness-Based Eating Solution. Oakland (CA): New Harbinger Publications, Inc.; 2016.

Homepage – Intuitive Eating

Intuitive Eating Pro Skills Training – Evelyn Tribole

5 Apps for Mindful/Intuitive Eating: 

1.       The Mindful Eating App

2.       Am I Hungry? Virtual Coach

3.       Mindful Bite

4.       In The Moment- Mindful Eating

5.       Peace with Food


Özkan, Nilüfer, and Saniye Bilici. “Are anthropometric measurements an indicator of intuitive and mindful eating?.” Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity 26.2 (2021): 639-648.

Kabat-Zinn J. Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. New York (NY): Dell Pub., a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub. Group; 1991.

King, Kristi M., Gina B. Gonzalez, and Amanda M. Mitchell. “Strategies for Implementing Mindfulness and Mindful Eating into Health and Fitness Professionals’ Practice.” ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal 25.2 (2Sagui-Henson, Sara J., et al. “Negative Mood and Food Craving Strength Among Women with Overweight: Implications for Targeting Mechanisms Using a Mindful Eating Intervention.” Mindfulness (2021): 1-14.021): 43-47.

Sagui-Henson, Sara J., et al. “Negative Mood and Food Craving Strength Among Women with Overweight: Implications for Targeting Mechanisms Using a Mindful Eating Intervention.” Mindfulness (2021): 1-14.

Kawasaki, Yui, et al. “Is mindful eating sustainable and healthy? A focus on nutritional intake, food consumption, and plant-based dietary patterns among lean and normal-weight female university students in Japan.” Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity (2021): 1-17.

Abdul Basir, Siti Munirah, et al. “Reliability and Validity of the Malay Mindful Eating Questionnaire (MEQ-M) among Overweight and Obese Adults.” International journal of environmental research and public health 18.3 (2021): 1021.

Hazzard, Vivienne M., et al. “Intuitive eating longitudinally predicts better psychological health and lower use of disordered eating behaviors: findings from EAT 2010–2018.” Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity 26.1 (2021): 287-294.

Christoph, Mary, et al. “Longitudinal associations between intuitive eating and weight-related behaviors in a population-based sample of young adults.” Appetite 160 (2021): 105093.

Carrard, Isabelle, Stéphane Rothen, and Rachel F. Rodgers. “Body image concerns and intuitive eating in older women.” Appetite 164 (2021): 105275.

Wilson, Rebecca E., et al. “Brief non-dieting intervention increases intuitive eating and reduces dieting intention, body image dissatisfaction, and anti-fat attitudes: A randomized controlled trial.” Appetite 148 (2020): 104556.

Tylka, Tracy L., Rachel M. Calogero, and Sigrún Daníelsdóttir. “Intuitive eating is connected to self-reported weight stability in community women and men.” Eating disorders 28.3 (2020): 256-264.

Linardon, Jake, Tracy L. Tylka, and Matthew Fuller‐Tyszkiewicz. “Intuitive eating and its psychological correlates: A meta‐analysis.” International Journal of Eating Disorders (2021).

Messer, Mariel, et al. “Bidirectional relationships between intuitive eating and shape and weight overvaluation, dissatisfaction, preoccupation, and fear of weight gain: A prospective study.” Body Image 39 (2021): 227-231.

Soares, Fabíola Lacerda Pires, et al. “Intuitive eating is associated with glycemic control in type 2 diabetes.” Eating and Weight Disorders-Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity 26.2 (2021): 599-608.

Disclaimer. This blog is for informational purposes only. Always follow up with your medical care provider.

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2 thoughts on “Mindful Eating VS Intuitive Eating”

  1. This information is really empowering because it speaks to our relationship with food, as an extension of self-care. Paying attention to how we “feel” before, during, and after a meal really resonated with me. I love how this was predicated on giving ourselves “unconditional permission” to eat, and to be grateful for the food we are about to enjoy through the 5 senses. Thank you for sharing this helpful information Laura!

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