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  • Paige Smathers

Intuitive Eating is Not the Hunger & Fullness Diet



Intuitive Eating (IE) offers a powerful framework for letting go of dieting and reconnecting to your body's internal wisdom. It's a liberating thing to reclaim your authority in how you feed yourself and how you relate to food and body. But, in the process, many people make the common mistake of approaching IE through the lens of the dieting mentality. In other words, it's common to oversimplify IE into the hunger and fullness diet.


Beware of rigidity with your hunger and fullness cues!


When letting go of dieting, it’s normal to find yourself fairly fixated on hunger and fullness. Some of that is good—we want to develop awareness and connection with what is going on with your body. But some of it can be a trap where you can create rigidity and turmoil in trying to honor your cues.


Honoring hunger and fullness is really wonderful. And, there are times where it’s more skillful to override those cues. You might find yourself feeling your best overriding hunger (i.e. eating when you’re not really hungry) in the following situations: you’re sick, you’re feeling sad and you have no appetite, you’re about to go into an event without food for 3 hours so now is your chance to eat, it’s morning and you don’t really feel hungry but you’ve noticed through time you feel best when you eat a solid breakfast, or sometimes it's as simple as the food sounded good so you ate it and moved on.


All of those are legitimate reasons to eat when you’re not really feeling hungry.


I’ve been sick this week and while I didn’t really have much of an appetite, I knew I’d feel even worse if I skimped too much with food (i.e. if i fully listened to my hunger cues which were basically null). There were a few meals where I just got down whatever I could. And, now that I’m on the mend, I’m feeling my appetite ramp up and I'M HUNGRY!


How cool that our bodies help us eat more to regulate our needs! It’s so interesting to notice—without judgement—how hunger cues can shift daily depending on what’s going on with your body. Bodies are truly amazing!


Here’s your take home message: tuning into hunger and fullness cues is really great. And, please know that tuning into those cues works best when you approach them in a flexible way that serves your overall needs rather than trying to be perfect with honoring your body’s cues (psst...there’s no such thing as perfection here!)

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