Your Top Intuitive Eating Questions Answered

May 30, 2024

Self-Paced Course: Non-Diet Academy


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A Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with a master's degree in dietetics & nutrition. My passion is helping you find peace with food - and within yourself.

Meet Katy

Recently, I asked members of my Facebook group, Intuitive Eating Made Easy, if they had questions about intuitive eating. I picked some of the common questions that you might be asking, too. Here are the frequently asked questions and my answers to help you on your intuitive eating journey.

How Can I Eat Mindfully When Sharing Meals With Kids?

Parents, I was so happy to see this one pop up in the intuitive eating questions because it’s something I know a lot of you are wondering about. You may be curious how principles of intuitive eating align with sharing meals with young kids.

Here are a few pointers to make you feel empowered in your relationship with food:

Validate the Challenge

Eating mindfully with young children can be challenging, but it’s important to acknowledge that it’s possible. As an intuitive eating dietitian, I want to encourage you to remember that a positive relationship with food is totally doable with kids! If anything, they’ll learn the most freeing and beautiful lessons from you first-hand.

Keep Eating with Them

Consistently eating with your kids helps them become more willing to try various foods and grow up as intuitive eaters. Working with an intuitive eating coach or dietician can help you learn ways to integrate mindful eating with your whole family.

Be Mindful When You Can

Use quieter moments to practice mindful eating. It takes time to shed the diet mentality. Take advantage of the quieter moments of your day to assess your eating and body image. Think of the food that can make you feel good and what you need to eat to feel your absolute best. One other note here is to journal about how empowering it is to be listening to your body.

Powerful Pause

Take three long, slow breaths before you start eating to calm your nervous system and tune into your hunger and fullness cues. Eating requires us to make a decision and then, an action. When you slow down, I believe you’ll find that you’ll make choices that lead to satisfaction and fullness, not just instant gratification.

Division of Responsibility (DOR)

Ellen Satter’s DOR framework can help you navigate mealtimes and raise intuitive eaters. I can’t give enough mentions of this framework! It’s a great tool to keep on hand as you deal with cravings. It may be helpful for you as you continue to eat intuitively. 

What Are The Best Strategies for Managing Food Sensitivities?

One of my podcast listeners just discovered a salicylate sensitivity and is lactose, fructose, and egg intolerant. They’re also allergic to soy and have chronic illnesses. How can someone manage all this and practice intuitive eating?

Here are some pointers if you have to avoid a certain food or foods:

Validate the Challenge

Managing multiple food sensitivities along with intuitive eating is difficult, but it’s possible. Trust your body around eating and lean into your limitations. I know it sounds like you’re “giving in”, but really you’ll get to a place where your body is leading the show. Even with “limitations,” you can thrive as an intuitive eater. 

Valid Diagnosis

Ensure your sensitivities were diagnosed through valid testing methods, not IgG tests. Not all tests are created equally. 

Feedback from the Body

View your food sensitivities as feedback from your body, similar to hunger and fullness signals. Though they seem like hindrances, you’ll find they’re just your body’s unique playbook. Remember, we’re moving away from restriction and food feelings. Those feelings of guilt and shame aren’t going to help you feel satisfied. Honor your hunger, even with allergies or food sensitivities in play.

Work With a Dietitian 

Work with a registered dietitian who can help tailor intuitive eating principles to your specific needs. A dietitian is a partner in your intuitive eating journey. Rather than viewing food as good and bad or walking the journey of body image healing alone, have an expert on your side.

How Can I Practice Intuitive Eating When I’m Stressed?

A listener asked, “Gentle nutrition seems almost impossible when I am dealing with a lot of stress. What can I do when I can’t reduce stress at the moment?”

Mindfulness plays a large role in intuitive eating. It’s all about giving yourself unconditional permission to eat. Of course, stress can make it difficult for some to make peace with food.

Here are a few pointers as you learn to trust food and your body:

Validate the Challenge

Stress can significantly impact your eating habits and capacity to practice gentle nutrition. When stressed, you’re more likely to adopt diets and food rules, feel bad about your body, or second guess how much to eat. A dietitian who specializes in intuitive eating would be happy to help you through those stressful slumps with gentleness and mindful eating.

Manage Stress Itself

You might not be able to reduce the stressor, but you can manage your response to stress. I recommend the book “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Emily and Amelia Nagoski.

Redefine Gentle Nutrition

Gentle nutrition changes based on your situation. Focus on what you can do within your current circumstances without adding more stress.

How Can I Prepare and Enjoy Lunch at Work?

Maybe you’re learning to have a healthy relationship with food while balancing a busy schedule. Don’t worry—you’re not alone. There are many external factors to consider when switching from diet culture to self-care and intuitive eating.

Guess what!

Lunch at work doesn’t have to be impossible or boring.

If you start work early and prep lunch the day before, this is for you! Here are some tips on making better lunch choices that don’t disappoint.

Validate the Challenge

Planning meals in advance can be tricky and may not always align with your cravings.

Practice Makes Perfect

With time, you’ll get better at anticipating what foods will satisfy you later. There are so many creative lunch ideas out there! 

Pack More Options

Bring a variety of food options to work so you have choices depending on your hunger and cravings. This keeps you from spending the money on takeout/delivery.

Practical Eating

Understand that sometimes you eat because it’s necessary, not necessarily because you’re craving it. This is called “practical hunger” or “practical eating.”

Can I Really Do Intuitive Eating?

Here’s a major question I get asked a lot. This question has variations, but it all boils down to, “Can I really do this?”. Don’t feel ashamed if you’re wondering the same thing. Letting go of diet culture and leaning into intuitive eating is an adjustment that requires practice. 

I recently got this question from a podcast listener:

“I’ve been weight cycling since I was 9 and struggle with binge eating. I’m worried that without rules and restrictions, I’ll lose my health. Can I really do intuitive eating?”

Here’s my answer:

You’re Not Alone

Many people share this struggle, and it’s important to recognize the long history of dieting and weight cycling.

Time to Heal

Healing from a long history of dieting will take time and patience. Permission to eat all foods after years of being told to restrict and not eat whatever you want is a huge adjustment. 

Finding Middle Ground

Moving from restrictive eating to binge eating can be challenging. This is where structure comes in.

SCA Framework

Using the SCA (Structure, Choice, Awareness) framework can help you find balance. 

It’s Possible

Yes, intuitive eating is achievable. It will take time, support, and practice. 

How Do I Handle Scale Anxiety?

Are you still struggling with stepping on the scale? If you’re new in your intuitive eating journey, you’re not alone. It’s a lot to take in. Ditching diet culture and not feel bad is a huge adjustment. We live in a society that praises a certain body image and assigns food rules. We’re told to restrict even if it leads to disordered eating. Weight gain is avoided at all costs and somehow we’re supposed to be at peace with our bodies.

Scale anxiety is a real struggle, especially early on in your mindful eating journey or when stress arises. I want you to know I see you and understand you. 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when stepping on the scale gives you more encouragement around food.

It’s Normal

It’s normal to have doubts and anxieties early in your journey or even after you’ve been on it for a while.

Curiosity Over Judgment

Reflect on why you felt the need to weigh yourself and the impact it has on you.

Neutral Data

Try to see your weight as neutral data, not a measure of your worth. We’re used to food being assigned value. “Good” or “bad” are used to describe food when we really have permission to eat whatever satisfies us—mind, body, and spirit.

Support System

Keep engaging with support systems like our program and community. The intuitive eating community is here to support you on your journey. We offer valuable tips and are here for a good, intuitive eating q&a!

Key Takeaways

Here are some key points you can apply in your own life:

– Eat with your kids using the Division of Responsibility framework.

– Use the Powerful Pause to check in with yourself before eating.

– Manage food sensitivities by viewing them as feedback from your body.

– Redefine gentle nutrition based on your current stress levels.

– Plan meals with flexibility and options in mind.

– Use the SCA framework to find balance and structure.

– Approach your journey with patience and seek ongoing support.
Remember, progress is made one step at a time through small, sustainable changes. Thank you for engaging with these questions, and keep sharing your experiences and insights. Let’s continue supporting each other on this journey. If you have more questions or want to share your ah-ha moments, DM me on Instagram or Facebook!

Listen & subscribe on your favorite platform:  Apple Podcasts  | Spotify | Deezer |  Google

Search for Episode 129: How to Increase Your Odds of Binge Eating and Gaining Weight

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