10 Principles of Intuitive Eating and How It Affects Your Body Image

body image healthy habits Apr 01, 2023

Over the years, I've presented at several self care and confidence retreats. My favorite part is the lunch break. First, because I love food. Second, because there's always someone guiding us through the meal using principles of intuitive eating. I've done this a handful of times and each time I remember how powerful it is. I'm pretty good at being mindful while I eat and listening to my body, but taking the time to really connect is powerful!

Here are the 10 principles of intuitive eating I learned from these workshops, and how it effects your body image. There are certain fundamental rights you need to provide for yourself to have a positive body image. One of them is learning to make empowered decisions when you eat. All of these principles, combined with the body image impact, help establish disciplines you can follow to eat empowered at every meal.

Side bar: Some people say there's a difference between mindful and intuitive eating, I disagree. They go hand in hand. You can't be mindful without being intuitive and you can't be intuitive without being mindful. Okay, that being said, let's get into it.

1. Remove distractions

You cannot be mindful and distracted. Put your phone away for an entire meal and see how it feels. Body image is a reflection of your body relationship. You know how disrespectful it is to speak to someone whose face is constantly in their phone, watching the TV, or distracted by something out the window.

Don't do this to your body! It builds intention and creates an opportunity for quality time spent with your body while you eat. It's not practical to do this every single meal, but if you do this for even one meal a day you'll notice a huge difference.

2. Slow down

If you're familiar with shame eating, you know it happens fast. When you feel like you're doing something wrong, the natural response is to hide it, speed it up, and feel shameful afterwards. Eating fast affects your body image because it mimics the shame eating pattern.

Eating is not shameful. I know you've seen people shamed (or you've been shamed yourself) for eating, but it's a normal thing that must happen daily. You don't need to hide eating. You deserve to enjoy your food and that means slowing down. Slow down enough to taste every single bite. Chew every single bite at least 10 times, not to eat less, but to enjoy what you eat with gratitude. This improves your body image because you replace shame with enjoyment. That's a powerful shift!

3. Listen to your hunger cues

Diet culture teaches women to ignore hunger cues. You hear things like, "drink water if you're hungry" or "chew gum if you're hungry to trick your body into thinking its eating!" This is the opposite of intuitive eating and it destroys your body image. When you practice intuitive eating, you must listen to your body. Imagine having a relationship with someone where they ignore everything you say, or even go so far as to tell you to shut up every time you ask for something. How long would you stay in that relationship? Hopefully not long.

How is this behavior acceptable in our body relationship? Hunger is your body talking to you. It's saying, "I need sustenance," and when you ignore that, you're saying, "I don't care about what you need," this is why ignoring hunger cues destroys your body relationship. Hunger isn't something to suppress or ignore, it's a survival instinct that must be respected.

4. Respect when you're full

Similarly to respecting your hunger cues, you must respect when your body says stop. Slowing down while you eat allows you to feel when these cues come. Eating too fast blazes past these feelings and focuses on the task of "finishing your food" but the actual task you're accomplishing is satisfying your hunger.

When you prioritize cleaning your plate over satisfying your hunger, you run the risk of disrespecting your body when it says "no"

How do you feel about people who don't respect when you say stop? When you say no? This is equally damaging your body relationship if you're eating too far past what your hunger level requires.

5. Remind yourself you can always eat again

One common reason we overeat is because we're eating food we believe is scarce. We have a "now or never" mindset about the food. Either we believe we won't be able to get access to the food again (grandma made cookies for a special occasion) or we know we will stop ourselves from eating it again (restrictive eating). Either way, we overeat out of fear we won't get to have it again.

Here's the truth, you can always have something delicious again. We live in a world of abundance. You are allowed to eat anything you want at anytime.

This is why cheat days are terrible for your body image. They create strict limits around food which causes obsession. It also puts pressure on yourself to eat as much "fun" food as possible before the sun goes down.

Gorging yourself for either reason is not healthy for your body image. It's disrespecting your body's limits. Instead, remind yourself while you eat that you can always eat this again. Sometimes the thought you won't have it again for weeks (or months) makes you eat more than you should.

6. Remind yourself you can always stop eating

If you're one who struggles to eat enough, remind yourself that a few bites is better than no bites. You can always stop eating at any level of fullness. You don't need to force your body to eat a full meal if you genuinely do not desire that.

7. Stash some "hangry" snack options

If you're on a journey of healing your body with food, it's a good idea to keep some nutrition packed "grab" meals. Sometimes we miss our hunger cues and it's too late, we're starving. All self control is gone and if you haven't prepared, you might scarf down a bag of Sun Chips and half a sleeve of Oreos.

When you're "hangry" you need something filling and fast. I keep Ka'Chava on hand for this exact reason. It's a quick protein packed shake that just requires water. They also have meal replacement bars which have enough protein and nutrients to replace a meal, but I wouldn't count on this to replace dinner! This means you've planned ahead to care for your body when you went too long without feeding it. This helps your body image because it's showing love to your body through acts of service. Use this link for $15 off!

8. Decide how you want to feel when you're done eating

Another cause of shame eating is forcing your body into a state of discomfort through eating. It's a form of punishment when you feel shame or guilt. Before you start eating, ask yourself, "on a scale of 1-10 how full do I want to feel when I finish eating?" then take a look at your meal and ask yourself if that amount of food will get you there.

This helps your body image because it creates a plan. You set boundaries and goals for your body during the meal. You're checking in with your body before making any decisions. This shows respect and consideration for your body.

9. Determine how hungry you are before you start eating

Check in with yourself before you start eating. This also helps with slowing down. Ask yourself, "on a scale of 1-10 how hungry am I right now?" take a look at your meal and ask yourself if that's the right amount of food for your body at that hunger level. Adjust the amount of food if necessary!

10. Don't eat based on time, eat based on hunger levels

You don't have to eat just because it's 12pm. You're an adult, you can eat whenever you decide your body needs food. Don't let the time on the clock have more power than your actual body! Only eat when you're actually feeling hungry. 



When you start practicing these principles of intuitive eating, it might feel like a lot of "extra" time or work. It will feel different because it is different. You're practicing the disciplines of someone who loves their body! Eventually, this will become second nature. You'll do this automatically.

Do your best to practice a few of these principles of intuitive eating and see how soon you adjust your habits to encourage a positive body image!

Available now!


Living in a body obsessed culture has women checking their reflection, on average, once every thirty minutes. So how are some women just effortlessly okay with what they see? They don't have a perfect body, they have a healthy body relationship - and you can, too.



Quick Links


Your life is happening right now. Whether this is your first (or 50th) step towards a healthy body image, I'm here to make sure it's your last.

The Body Image Solution is a program designed to help you become carefree in your skin by rebranding how you see your body. Enjoy peace of mind tomorrow by learning body confidence today.


16 Days to Beat Negative Self Talk

Body image starts in your brain. Take the 16 day challenge to beat negative self talk.

START    ⟩