Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating are often used interchangeably but are they actually the same thing?

Well, kind of…but not really. Let me explain.


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I talk about Mindful Eating in more detail here. Essentially it is about focusing our attention, on purpose, on the act of eating. It involves eating with awareness of all of our senses- our sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. And it involves eating without judgement.

Intuitive Eating, on the other hand, is the term coined by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995 when they published the first edition of their book Intuitive Eating (aff link). Yep, this ain’t no fad diet or flash in the pan way of eating! Intuitive Eating has been around for over 20 years.

In their latest book, The Intuitive Eating Workbook (aff link), Tribole and Resch provide this lovely definition;

“Intuitive Eating is a dynamic mind-body integration of instinct, emotion, and rational thought. It is a personal process of honoring your health by paying attention to the messages of your body and meeting your physical and emotional needs. It is an inner journey of discovery that puts you front and centre; you are the expert of your own body.” (pg1)

Just from that paragraph alone, you can see that Intuitive Eating is about much more than slowing down and paying attention without judgement when we eat.

In fact, there are 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating that aim to help a person find their unique version of mental, emotional and physical health. These principles are:

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality
  2. Honour Your Hunger
  3. Make Peace with Food
  4. Challenge the Food Police
  5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  6. Feel your Fullness
  7. Cope with your Emotions with Kindness
  8. Respect Your Body
  9. Movement – Feel the Difference
  10. Honour Your Health with Gentle Nutrition


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You could also think about Intuitive Eating as being a broader philosophy or way of leading your life. And Mindful Eating is a skill you develop as part of that process. Mindful Eating plays a part in one form or another in Principles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

So, while it is easy to see how the two can be confused, there is a difference between Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating. But they complement each other beautifully. And both are wonderful things to embrace as part of your ‘health and wellness toolkit’.


Originally published June 2017


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