Intuitive Eating Principle 10: Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition


We have finally come to the end of the Intuitive Eating Principle series. Honoring your health with gentle nutrition means healing your relationship with your food, mind, and body first. A common misconception about Intuitive Eating is that you just eat “junk food” all the time and there is a lack of nutritious foods however this is not the truth. Intuitive Eating does recognize the importance of eating a nutritious diet which is what this principle is all about. It is important to develop a healthy relationship with food and have practiced the other principles of Intuitive Eating first before trying to address healthy eating. If you are still struggling with honoring your hunger, making peace with food, or ditching the diet mentality then you may not be ready to practice this principle yet. 


Healthy eating does not mean you have to eat perfectly all the time. Healthy eating means making food choices that honor your health but more importantly your tastebuds and that make you feel good. When we are in a dieting mindset, we often become very strict about the foods we can and can’t eat based on the labels diet culture has given certain foods such as “good” or “bad”. When you started to allow yourself to have those foods again when practicing the very first few principles of Intuitive Eating it was important to notice how those foods made you feel. Maybe eating a lot of a certain food after a while made you feel not so good but having a balance made you feel better. 


Gentle nutrition is a continuous process of learning and discovery based on reflections and experiences. The following reflections may be helpful when practicing this principle:

  • Notice how certain foods make you feel physically. Tapping into this internal awareness can be helpful when deciding what to eat which goes beyond just the taste of food as honoring your hunger is a full-body experience. 
    • What specific foods leave you feeling most nourished, sustained, and strong?
  • What motivates your food choices? Sometimes a certain way of eating gives a person an identity or makes them feel good about themselves. Reflect on if that may be true for you and if so, how might that be affecting your connection to your body?


The following guidelines may be helpful when practicing honoring your hunger with a gentler nutrition approach:

  •  Eat a variety of foods: when we are stuck in the diet mentality, we often restrict ourselves to only eating foods that we consider “safe”. When we begin to challenge our food rules and eat a variety of foods, we are most likely to increase our satisfaction and vitamin/nutrient intake. This does not just mean fruits and vegetables but proteins and carbohydrates too!
  • Eat a balance of foods: similar to eating a variety of foods, balance is key to having a healthy relationship with food. Although we are taught to have a perfectly balanced plate at every meal that is just not realistic. Some days you may eat little to no vegetables and others you may eat a lot. This is okay and over time it all balances out! Your body is smart and can handle fluctuations in nutrients to a certain degree. It is far unhealthier to stress about eating vegetables with every meal rather than just not having them.
  • Consider the taste of foods: when in the diet culture mindset, we can often be afraid to experiment with food flavor and texture. We generally go for the simplest way of cooking something that stays clear of using a lot of oil and seasonings/sauces. This can leave us feeling very unsatisfied after a meal. If you only ever eat raw or steamed vegetables, try preparing them differently to add more satisfaction such as grilling or sauteing with spices and sauces. The same thing goes for preparing protein and carbohydrates. 



If the previously mentioned felt overwhelming to you, it is probably a sign that you are not ready to practice this principle yet and that is okay. Honoring your health through gentle nutrition takes time, especially after years of engaging in chronic dieting or disordered eating habits. A reminder that there is no one right way of becoming an Intuitive Eater and that other individuals’ intuitive eating paths may look different than yours. 


Our bodies are complex and ever-changing. Gentle nutrition considers this and allows for flexibility. Be patient and strive for progress over time, not perfection. 

If you find yourself needing a bit more encouragement or help with this principle or any of the other Intuitive Eating Principles, the Food Ease team can help!

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