There are a number of different eating styles or personalities. Eating mindfully and intuitively is the intention of eating or “normal” (not perfect) way of eating, however many of us don’t start out there. Following is a guide to find out what kind of eater you currently are, so you can start your adventure of eating more mindfully and intuitively.
What Kind of Eater Are You?
In their book Intuitive Eating, Tribole and Resch discuss the following eating styles –
1. The Professional Dieter
The professional dieter is the person who is continually dieting. This person usually has tried many diets, weight loss gimmicks and/or read the latest dieting book. They know alot about the ingredients and calories/kilojoules of foods, the latest “dieting tricks” and portion sizes of foods. They are often looking for the next best diet, as the ones they just tried has not worked and almost every eating choice they make is about losing weight.
2. The Careful Eater
The careful dieter is quite vigilant about what foods they put in to their bodies. These people can appear to be the “perfect” eaters as they are focused on nutrition and are health and fitness oriented. Some of the behaviours a careful eater exhibit can include –
- scrutinising food labels at the supermarket,
- asking the waiter what is in the food and how is it prepared when eating out,
- excessively planning out the next meal or snack, or
- being guided by times or events (i.e. being a careful eater during the week and splurging on weekends).
3. The Unconscious Eater
The unconscious eater is the person who is often engaged in other activities whilst eating and are unaware of their overeating. For example they could be watching TV and eating, driving the car and eating or reading a book whilst eating. These people are usually the ones I work with. They are a number of types of unconscious eaters.
The Refuse-Not Unconscious Eater
The refuse-not conscious eater is challenged by the mere presence of food. For example – food that is available at meetings, lolly jars or the bread basket on the table before dinner. This type of eater is often not aware they are eating or how much they are eating.
The Chaotic Unconscious Eater
This type of eater often lives an over-committed life. They have too many things to do and subsequently will grab whatever food is available (i.e. from a vending machine of fast for outlet). Even though nutrition and diet is important to this person, it is just not in the critical moment.
The Waste-Not Unconscious Eater
The waste-not unconscious eater values money and how much food they can receive for their money. They are also likely to “clean their plate” and possibly food from other family members.
The Emotional Unconscious Eater
This is a quite common eating style. The emotional unconscious eater type uses food to cope with emotions. This could be because the person is feeling stressed, lonely, bored, anger, overwhelmed, sad or even happy.
4. Intuitive and/or Mindful Eater
The intuitive or mindful eater is someone who is tuned in to their own biological hunger. They trust their own inner hunger, fullness and satisfaction signals, instead of relying on external sources like diets or food rules to tell them what to eat. This is the “normal” way of eating, however many of us have forgotten this and have developed other eating styles. However, in saying that, it is not about being perfect mindful or intuitive eaters, as that space does not exist – we are human beings after all 🙂
Over to You…
I hope this post has given you some insight in to the different kinds of eaters. If you have any comments, please write them below or if you have any questions, please contact us and we would be happy to help.
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive Eating – A Revolutionary Program that Works. New York, USA: St. Martin’s Griffin.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating is a non-diet approach to nutrition and wellness that helps people start to trust their body wisdom and its signals, break the cycle of dieting and change your relationship with food (and maybe their life). According to Tribole and Resch, the authors of Intuitive Eating, an intuitive eater is defined as a person who “makes food choices without experiencing guilt or an ethical dilemma, honors hunger, respects fullness and enjoys the pleasure of eating.”
The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating
According to Tribole and Resch, Intuitive Eating is made up of ten core principles. The 10 core principles are –
Principle 1: Reject the Diet Mentality
Have you ever felt cheated from the diet books and magazines that offer you false hope of losing weight easily, quickly and permanently? Don’t worry you are not alone. Research indicates that dieting can hurt your psychological health and wellbeing.
Principle 2: Honour Your Hunger
Learn to recognise your biological hunger signals and feed it with adequate energy. By learning to honour your hunger, you can start to rebuild your trust with yourself and food.
Principle 3: Make Peace with Food
Are you ready to stop the food fight and give yourself unconditional permission to eat? When you tell yourself you cannot have or should not have a food, it can lead to feelings of deprivation and food cravings.
Principle 4: Challenge the Food Police
Have you recognised the voice inside your head that labels you as “good” for eating a salad for lunch and “bad” for eating dessert? This is the voice of the food police and it monitors the unreasonable rules that dieting has created.
Principle 5: Feel Your Fullness
Listen to your body signals when they let you know you are no longer hungry. One way of doing this is through the hunger-fullness scale.
Principle 6: Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Have you ever felt physically full but not satisfied? It can happen and if you are not satisfied from eating, you may continue to keep eating and eat up overeating, which is why it is important to discover the satisfaction factor.
Principle 7: Cope with Your Emotions Without Using Food
Even though emotional eating is common, it is important to find ways to nurture, comfort and attend to your emotions without using food. In the short-term, it may appear that food can help appease emotions, however in the end food will make you feel worse in the long run and doesn’t resolve challenges.
Principle 8: Respect Your Body
It is important to respect and accept your body. Respecting your body means accepting your genetic blueprint and your current body shape. When you do this, you can feel better about who you are.
Principle 9: Exercise – Feel the Difference
Instead of thinking about the exercise you think you “should” be doing, focus on what types of movement feel good to you. Forget about the calorie burning effect of exercise or how it can assist in weigh loss, focus on how it feels after you have moved your body.
Principle 10: Honour Your Health – Gentle Nutrition
When choosing to eat, make food choices that honour your health and taste buds. Aim for progress, not perfection and remember, it is what you eat consistently that is important.
The Research Behind Intuitve Eating
There are a number of studies and research on intuitive eating. These have found that intuitive eating in linked to –
- lower body mass index (BMI),
- increase in body acceptance,
- lower rates of disordered eating,
- lower rates of emotional eating,
- increase in intrinsic motivation to engage in physical activity,
- lower serum triglyceride levels,
- reduce risk for overall risk for heart disease,
- coping better with feelings around food, and
- increase self-compassion and psychological wellbeing.
What is the Difference Between Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating?
In their book Intuitive Eating, Tribole and Resch indicate that Intuitive eating includes the principles of mindful eating, however –
“it also encompasses a broader philosophy, addressing the issues of cognitive distortions and emotional eating. It includes seeing satisfaction as a focal point in eating, physical activity/movement for the sake of feeling good, rejecting the dieting mentality, using nutrition information without judgement, and respecting your body, regarding of how you feel about its shape.” (p.232).
For people who are struggling with eating challenges, both mindful eating and intuitive eating can help facilitate normal eating.
I hope this post has given you some insight in to what is intuitive eating and some of the research behind it. If you have any questions, please feel free to write them below.
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive Eating – A Revolutionary Program that Works. New York, USA: St. Martin’s Griffin.
You might be familiar with the term “mindfulness“, however are you aware of how mindfulness relates to eating?
The Center for Mindful Eating (TCME) has created principles to guide people who are interested in mindful eating.
What is Mindful Eating?
Mindful eating is –
- allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom;
- using all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body;
- acknowledging your responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment; and
- becoming aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating you can change your relationship to food.
Someone Who Eats Mindfully –
- Acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat but varying degrees of awareness surrounding the experience of food.
- Accepts that his or her eating experiences are unique.
- Is an individual who by choice directs his or her attention to eating on a moment-by-moment basis.
- Gains awareness of how he or she can make choices that support health and well-being.
- Becomes aware of the interconnection of Earth, living beings, and cultural practices and the impact of his or her food choices on those systems.
- Practices mindfulness to promote balance, choice, wisdom and acceptance of what is.
Why Mindful Eating?
Why are people turning off their phones, televisions and other plug-in devices and tuning in to the taste of food?
- Growing research suggests that distraction while eating prevents a person from enjoying the bite in the mouth. Coined “mindless eating,” this innocent behavior has been linked to overeating, stress and increased anxiety.
How would you know if you are eating in a mindless or distracted way?
- One quick way is to recall what you ate at your last meal. Can you describe the flavour, the taste, the texture? If you are struggling to remember any of the specifics about your choice, you are not alone. Mindful eating helps individuals learn how to check in with their direct experience when eating. Reconnecting to your direct sensory experience can become the start of a food and eating awakening. People often discover that the flavour of common foods can be transformed by bringing a mindfulness practice to the meal.
How does mindful eating change a meal?
- Pausing and becoming curious focuses the mind. Questions stimulate the mind and create a focus on the bite in the mouth. Mindful eating cultivates becoming grounded in the present moment’s awareness of eating. Many people who try eating mindfully discover that mindfulness may be just the perfect seasoning for any meal.
Is it Time to Try Mindful Eating?
The nutrition clients I work with are often out of touch with their feelings of hunger and inner signs of fullness that they cannot remember the last time they felt hungry. They often eat when they are stressed, distracted or just because the food is there.
By breaking the habit of eating without awareness (mindless eating), you can rediscover your physical feelings of hunger and satiety. Rediscovering your hunger cues, your non-hunger eating triggers and by choosing foods you enjoy eating, you can help resolve the love-hate relationship many of us have with food.
Are you ready to ditch the “diet” mindset and start to eat mindfully?
If so, you may like try one of the following 3 simple ways to introduce mindfulness into your mealtimes.
1. Learn to Meet Your Needs Without Food
As you start to observe your eating, you may notice your food craving is emotionally driven. If this is the case, you may like to HALT and ask yourself if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Once you have identified this need, you can then make a choice to meet your need in another way if it is emotional and not fill the void with food.
2. Before You Eat, Check in With Your Breath and Your Body’s Hunger Levels
Are you really hungry or just think you are hungry? To work it out, next time you are contemplating eating, you may like to stop and take a few deep breaths. Once you are present, check-in with your body and see if there are physical sensations of hunger. If you are hungry, how hungry are you? What are you hungry for? Is there a particular food or drink you would like to have? Listen to what your body is telling you.
3. Slow Down
Slowing down while you are eating can help you enjoy your food more as well as help you be aware when you are getting full. A couple of simple ways to slow down whilst eating includes pausing and taking a breath between bites, chewing your food completely or putting your knife and fork or spoon down between bites.
I hope this post has given you some insight in to mindful eating and what it is! If you have any other questions or ways to eat mindfully, please write them below in the comments section or on our facebook page here.
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