Does Intuitive Eating (Mindful Eating) Work?

By Marsha Hudnall
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Bliss At last weekend’s ASDAH (Association for Size Diversity and Health) conference, the subject of today’s post garnered a bit of discussion.  In a workshop, someone commented that mindful eating didn’t seem to work for her.  Several questions arose, the most central of which was the meaning of ‘work.’

When we ask whether mindful eating ‘works,’ what are we asking?  Whether it will lead us to weight loss?  Most people at the conference agreed that definition (or expectation) is a set-up for failure.  Intuitive eating isn’t about eating less so that you can lose weight.  It’s about eating peacefully, according to your body’s needs, to support your body in achieving its natural, healthy state.  For many women who’ve dieted their way to higher weights, that often means they’ll lose weight.  But it’s no guarantee, especially if someone is already at a weight that’s right for them, but they’re just not happy with it.

Hanging onto the goal of weight loss is pretty much a guarantee that intuitive eating won’t ‘work.’  Keeping weight loss as a goal makes us question every morsel we eat – primarily centering around questions whether we really need to eat (even though we’re hungry) or whether something is too ‘fattening’ (even when we think we’ve given those thoughts up). 

Setting our sights for eating well – intuitively choosing to eat in a way that makes our bodies feel good – is the most sure way to support our bodies in achieving their best.  As a minor (?) aside, eating well can look very different for each individual.  Nutrition guidelines can tell us as a population what seems to be the healthiest choices, but when it comes down to each of us personally, we have to tune in and discover how a food makes us feel.  If we’re worrying about whether it will make us fat or not, we’re getting in the way of true discovery.

Photo by Stephanie (strph) on flickr.

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2 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Ellie says:

    Interesting points. I didn’t find that intuitive eating ‘worked’ for me until now – because I’m pregnant, which changes everything. Suddenly I’m a) gaining weight on purpose b) eating for a reason and c) creating new life from my very own body, which gives me great respect for my body.

    I certainly didn’t consciously DISrespect my body before the pregnancy, and I didn’t have an obsession with weight loss. But I have a new perspective now.

  • Marsha says:

    Congratulations, Ellie. What a great way to get a new perspective! And yes, pregnancy is a time when we can get very attuned to our bodies. Hope you are having a wonderful pregnancy.

    best,
    marsha

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