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Intuitive Eating vs. Mindful Eating and the Benefits of Each

Like many others who have embarked on learning more about changing their lifestyle and food choices, you may be looking for a long-term solution, and one that is sustainable. Look no further than Mindful Eating (ME) and Intuitive Eating (IE), where your understanding of nutrition, your relationship with food and your body’s satisfaction from eating can all be transformed.

This is not just another fad diet that makes false promises, but has been proven by over 125 research studies and by the multitude of patients that we’ve personally seen. Most people stumble upon the concepts of ME and IE either because they’re curious about these buzz words or they’re desperate to try something different because what they’ve been doing isn’t working. The concepts of Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating often get interwoven, misunderstood and confused. Let’s dive into the similarities, differences and benefits.

What is Intuitive Eating?

According to the founders, Intuitive Eating is “an evidenced-based, mind-body health approach, comprised of 10 Principles and created by two dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995. It is a weight-neutral model with a validated assessment scale... Essentially, Intuitive Eating is a personal process of honoring health by listening and responding to the direct messages of the body in order to meet your physical and psychological needs.”

What is Mindful Eating?

According to The Center for Mindful Eating (TCME), a nonprofit international organization, “Mindfulness is the capacity to bring full attention and awareness to one’s experience, in the moment, without judgment. Mindful Eating brings mindfulness to food choice and the experience of eating... helps us become aware of our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations related to eating, reconnecting us with our innate inner wisdom about hunger and satiety. ”

How Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating are similar:

  • They are holistic, innate and internal processes of food enjoyment and appreciation.
  • They both provide health and well-being benefits.
  • They are sustainable and realistic approaches to food and food behaviors.
  • They are built on the foundation of enjoyment of food and life and creating a healthy relationship with food.
  • They do not promote food judgment or restriction.
  • They are not diets, as they do not promote dieting or shrinking your body. They have a much greater purpose of integrating mind, body and self care.

How Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating are different:

They sound very similar, however, Mindful Eating is just one tool or a set of tools, while Intuitive Eating is an entire framework of many tools to achieve overall well-being. Mindful Eating is a component of IE and is integrated throughout it, but IE has 10 comprehensive principles that extend even deeper than ME. Intuitive Eating is an anti-diet, weight- inclusive model and is aligned with the Health at Every Size movement. Unlike Mindful Eating, IE includes physical activity, body respect, rejecting the diet mentality and using nutrition principles, but without judgment, to help with food decisions and wellbeing.

11 Benefits of Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating:

There have been hundreds of research studies that have shown positive outcomes of these concepts:

  1. Improve your relationship with food, your body and other people. Both are helpful for those that just want to improve their relationship with food and facilitate normal eating. You’ll find yourself no longer judging yourself or others (body or food).
  2. Heal from disordered eating. IE is often used during eating disorder recovery (while also under the care of appropriate professionals). ME can be used once the person is recovered.
  3. Get more joy and satisfaction from eating and food.
  4. Maintain a weight that’s right for you. While it may sound contradictory, research has shown that intuitive eaters tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and maintain a more stable weight (since dieting is associated with weight gain).
  5. Stop the yo-yo diet cycle.
  6. Get freedom from reactive, emotional or loss-of-control eating
  7. Improve health outcomes and risk factors. Lower triglycerides, raise HDLs (“good” cholesterol), lower blood pressure and improve dietary intake.
  8. Make more nutritious choices without deprivation.
  9. Reconnect to hunger and satiety cues.
  10. Reduce food stress.
  11. Improve awareness and impact of the interconnection of your food choices with the earth, living beings and cultural practices.

That’s a long list! You probably get the gist of IE and ME and how they can help you stop stressing about food and start living successfully with it. If you are interested in learning in greater depth and starting the journey of IE or ME to enjoy food and life even more, get personalized support by booking an appointment with a Health Dietitian who specializes in these concepts.

Find more healthy living inspiration from our team of experts here.