How can a psychologist help me with Intuitive Eating?
Psychologists specialise in helping people understand the influence their thoughts and feelings have on their behaviours and developing strategies to make desired changes. Intuitive eating at its core is a psychological approach, as for many it involves a lot of change in behaviour, find new ways to manage emotions and challenges and restructuring thoughts and beliefs about food and their body to develop a healthier relationship with them. This can involve…
- identifying and recognising signs of hunger and fullness, using these to guide when to start and stop eating,
- identifying common triggers for under-eating, overeating or comfort eating and developing other ways of managing these triggers
- to take a gentle approach to nutrition
- to find movement or exercise that they enjoy, and which improves their overall health.
Intuitive eating is NOT a weight management strategy or diet, it is a process that helps build a healthy relationship with food and your body. Click here to learn more about Intuitive Eating.
Snapshot of Intuitive Eating Principles
Intuitive Eating may sound simple enough, but for many of us it involves a number of changes to get to this place and a psychologist can assist in guiding us through these changes, and overcoming obstacles that may come up for us whilst…
- Changing your mindset around dieting
- Changing restrictive behaviours around food
- Building your connection to your body and awareness of body cues
- Removing the morality around food, and subsequently the guilt
- Challenging diet culture “rules” around food
- Finding pleasure in food again
- Continuing to work with your body, and introducing mindful eating
- Acknowledging and allowing compassion for your emotions
- Learning new ways to cope with emotions if food has been your way
- Moving your body in ways that feel good and allow rest
- Working towards body acceptance, and health at every size
- Finally (once all the other work has been done), you can choose to introduce “gentle nutrition”
Is Intuitive Eating an intervention for Eating Disorders?
Let me explain.
You don’t need to have a diagnosed Eating Disorder to have an unhealthy relationship with food and your body or for this to be negatively impacting on your psychological well being. Most mental health challenges are on a continuum, as such, someone who does have challenges with dieting and body image (at the milder-moderate end of the scale) would likely benefit from engagement with Intuitive Eating whilst it might not be the right intervention for someone diagnosed with an Eating Disorder.
Here is Why?
Due to the extent of the disconnect people with Eating disorders (e.g., anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa) experience from their own body wisdom, intuitive eating is usually only introduced at a later stage of recovery if at all. Initially, dieticians will be actively supporting individuals to eat more than feels intuitive, to assist in the restoration of body weight etc. If you have a diagnosed Eating Disorder, Intuitive Eating is not likely to be helpful and effective until you are no longer restricting, bingeing or purging to ensure your cues for hunger and fullness are reliable. Please discuss with your health specialists before deciding if Intuitive Eating is the right choice for you.
Denny, K. N., Loth, K., Eisenberg, M. E., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2013). Intuitive eating in young adults. Who is doing it, and how is it related to disordered eating behaviors?. Appetite, 60, 13-19. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.09.029
Finding Balance Psychology. (n.d.) Intuitive Eating at Every Size. http://findingbalancepsychology.com.au/intuitive-eating/
Institute for the Psychology of Eating. (n.d.) The Science and Psychology of Intuitive Eating. https://psychologyofeating.com/the-science-and-psychology-of-intuitive-eating/
Linardon, J., Tylka, T. L., & Fuller‐Tyszkiewicz, M. (2021). Intuitive eating and its psychological correlates: A meta‐analysis. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 54, 1073-1098. doi: 10.1002/eat.23509
Mahlheim, L. (2020, December 31). How can Intuitive Eating Help My Eating Disorder? Very Well Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/intuitive-eating-can-help-disordered-eating-4796957#toc-principles-of-intuitive-eating
Van Dyke, N., & Drinkwater, E. J. (2014). Review article relationships between intuitive eating and health indicators: literature review. Public Health Nutrition, 17, 1757-1766. doi: 10.1017/S1368980013002139
Author: Samantha Sheppard, B Psych (Hons).
Samantha is a registered psychologist with experience working with children and adolescents (and their families), young adults and adults. Samantha empowers others with their mental health using a non-judgemental, compassionate approach, and particularly resonates with the social and emotional wellbeing framework.
To make an appointment with Samantha Sheppard try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129.