In a world where diet culture often promotes strict rules and external cues, intuitive and mindful eating offers a refreshing approach that focuses on listening to your body’s needs and cultivating a positive relationship with food. Intuitive eating involves tuning into your body’s hunger and fullness cues, while mindful eating emphasizes being present and nonjudgmental during meals. In this article, we will explore the science-backed benefits of intuitive and mindful eating, highlighting how these practices can positively impact your overall well-being.
Intuitive and mindful eating encourages a healthy and balanced relationship with food, free from guilt, restriction, and judgment. Research shows that adopting these approaches can reduce emotional eating, binge eating, and disordered eating behaviors (1). By allowing yourself to eat based on internal cues and honoring your body’s signals, you can develop a more positive and harmonious relationship with food, leading to greater satisfaction and enjoyment in eating experiences.
Practicing intuitive and mindful eating promotes heightened body awareness and a deeper understanding of your body’s needs. By tuning into your hunger and fullness cues, you become more attuned to the physical sensations associated with eating. Studies have found that individuals who practice mindful eating have improved self-regulation of food intake, leading to a better ability to recognize and respond to hunger and satiety signals (2). This increased body awareness can contribute to maintaining a healthy weight and preventing overeating.
Contrary to popular belief, intuitive and mindful eating does not promote weight loss or weight gain as its primary goal. However, research suggests that these practices can support healthy weight management. A systematic review found that individuals who practice intuitive eating tend to have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) and a reduced likelihood of obesity (3). By fostering a balanced and attuned approach to eating, intuitive and mindful eating may help individuals maintain a healthy weight range naturally.
Intuitive and mindful eating can have profound effects on psychological well-being. Research indicates that these practices are associated with reduced stress levels, improved body image, and enhanced overall psychological functioning (4). By embracing a nonjudgmental and compassionate attitude toward food and oneself, individuals can experience increased self-acceptance and reduced negative emotional states related to body image and food choices.
Intuitive and mindful eating promote a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment in eating experiences. By being fully present during meals, savoring each bite, and paying attention to taste, texture, and aroma, individuals can derive greater pleasure from their meals. Research suggests that mindful eating interventions can lead to increased food enjoyment, as well as a greater appreciation for the nourishment and pleasure that food provides (5). This heightened enjoyment can lead to a more positive relationship with food and a decreased likelihood of turning to food for emotional comfort.
Intuitive and mindful eating approaches offer a refreshing departure from restrictive diets and external food rules. Backed by scientific research, these practices promote improved relationships with food, enhanced body awareness, healthy weight management, psychological well-being, and greater satisfaction in eating experiences. By embracing intuitive and mindful eating, individuals can foster a positive, balanced, and sustainable approach to nourishing their bodies and nurturing a healthier relationship with food.
- Tribole E, Resch E. Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works. St. Martin’s Griffin; 2012.
- O’Reilly GA, et al. Mindfulness-based interventions for obesity-related eating behaviours: a literature review. Obes Rev. 2014;15(6):453-461.
- Tylka TL, Kroon VanDen Bosch JJ, Saslow LR. The Intuitive Eating Scale-2: item refinement and psychometric evaluation with college women and men. J Couns Psychol. 2014;61(4):604-616.
- Godsey J. The role of mindfulness based interventions in the treatment of obesity and eating disorders: An integrative review. Complement Ther Med. 2013;21(4):430-439.
- Kristeller JL, Wolever RQ. Mindfulness-based eating awareness training for treating binge eating disorder: the conceptual foundation. Eat Disord. 2011;19(1):49-61.
- Daubenmier J, et al. Mindfulness intervention for stress eating to reduce cortisol and abdominal fat among overweight and obese women: an exploratory randomized controlled study. J Obes. 2011;2011:651936.
- Dunn C, et al. Mindfulness approaches and weight loss, weight maintenance, and weight regain. Curr Obes Rep. 2018;7(1):37-49.
- Mantzios M, Wilson JC. Mindfulness, eating behaviours, and obesity: A review and reflection on current findings. Curr Obes Rep. 2015;4(1):141-146.
- Mason AE, Epel ES, Kristeller J, et al. Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on mindful eating, sweets consumption, and fasting glucose levels in obese adults: data from the SHINE randomized controlled trial. J Behav Med. 2016;39(2):201-213.
- Kristeller JL, Hallett CB. An exploratory study of a meditation-based intervention for binge eating disorder. J Health Psychol. 1999;4(3):357-363.