What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating (IE) is a book written by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, first published in 1995. Both authors are registered dieticians with backgrounds in nutritional counseling, particularly eating disorders. After years of advising clients on diets and eating plans and observing the outcomes, Tribole and Resch concluded: diets don’t work! Studies have shown that diets are not effective for long-term weight loss and ultimately cause the dieter to gain weight.

Intuitive eating focuses on mindfulness. You learn to eat, exercise and experience your body from your own internal cues, such as hunger and fullness, rather than external cues, such as calorie counting and weight scales. As children, we all ate by instinct and intuition. On a diet, you follow the rules of that diet, essentially forcing you to ignore your body’s signals. Intuitive eating helps you tune into your body and relearn those cues. Then you decide what and when you eat.

Intuitively eating balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure. But intuitive eating isn’t just about eating.

Click here to read the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

Health At Every Size (HAES)

Health At Every Size (HAES) is an approach to health and wellness that does not promote thinness but instead embraces diverse body shapes and sizes. The HAES model challenges current scientific and cultural assumptions and instead valuing body knowledge and lived experiences.

Click here for a fact sheet on HAES

Science shows that “obesity” is not the health risk it has been reported to be. BMI is a poor predictor of health, and its use to do so often misses people who truly need intervention. If our health care system applied this science and mindset, it would redirect efforts to ensure health care for people of all sizes without adding to the stigma surrounding obesity.

Click here to find out more about the HAES community

Click here to read more about each of the HAES principles.

Weight set point

The weight “set point” is where our natural weight falls and where our body experiences its ideal balance, also known as homeostasis. A person’s genetic makeup determines their set weight range at which the body performs optimally. Because of this, you meet severe resistance from the body when you try to change this weight range.

When we restrict certain foods or the amount of food we eat to try to lose weight, our bodies don’t like it, and they work to get back to this balance. When we make these changes to our diet, our bodies produce a hormone that makes us think about food all the time and sends signals to our bodies that we are hungry, specifically to work against our weight loss strategy. The overwhelming majority of people gain back all the weight they lose, and most of those people gain even more weight. When we diet this way, we actually increase our weight set point! So, the more we diet, the more we weigh over time.

Click here for more information about weight set point.

Learning to listen to your body and its cues will help you restore your body’s balance at your natural weight. Living at your natural weigh helps protect your health, for example your blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

Obesity paradox

The obesity paradox refers to the science that shows that, even though obesity is thought to be associated with a shorter life expectancy and as a risk-increasing factor for many diseases, people who have experienced a major injury or illness who are in the “overweight” and “mildly obese” BMI ranges have the longest survival times.

In the general population, obesity is associated with increased risk of adverse outcomes. However, studies of patients with chronic disease suggest that overweight and obese patients may paradoxically have better outcomes than lean patients.

In our current health care system, a person’s Body Mass Index, or BMI, is used as a measure of health; however, studies show this to be ineffective, especially because it is applied without regard to a person’s age or risk for certain diseases. It turns out that people with mid-range BMIs actually live longer than those with lower (and higher) BMIs! Health can more accurately be measured by tests and screenings measuring factors like cholesterol, blood glucose, and blood pressure.

Diets make people fatter and unhealthy

Another paradox is that dieting actually makes you fatter and less healthy. Studies have shown that dieting is a consistent predictor of weight gain. When we diet, our bodies go into survival mode because it thinks it is being starved. As a result, you start craving food and your metabolism slows. Every time you diet, the body adjusts, and you gain the weight back. Dieters often feel as though they have failed, but the truth is that the diet was destined to fail them. It seems dieting may actually be the cause of the “obesity epidemic” and not the solution.







—researched and written by Stevie Johnson, 2018

Be sure to check out our Events page for more information about upcoming classes and workshops!

Intuitive Emails

Welcome to Intuitive Emails!

My goal for this specialized mailing list is to educate and empower you to adopt the practice of Intuitive Eating in your own life. I truly believe that if I can break up with dieting and self hatred, anyone can.

I began eating emotionally to cope with trauma and a difficult home life at age 11. I tried alcohol at 14 and began binge drinking at 16--the same age I went on my first restrictive diet. Over the next 20 years I was either on a diet or binging on food and booze in preparation for the next round of starvation. I would punish myself for needing to eat by forcing myself to burn hundreds of calories before ingesting my puny Lean Cuisine or whatever fit into my Weight Watchers points for the day. I had a deep hatred for how my body looked regardless of how much weight I lost. Having my children in some ways was a first step toward gaining respect for my body, but the weight gain that came with pregnancy sent me into an emotional tailspin since my entire self worth was wrapped up in my weight.

In March of 2015 a therapist gently introduced the idea of Intuitive Eating and once I read the book and understood the science, I never looked back. Over the last four years, I've been able to gain complete control over my eating and drinking--without restriction. I've found acceptance and even love for my body. IE gave me the courage to try yoga and I became a yoga teacher in December 2016. (I'm also a physical therapist.)

If you haven’t already, please check out the “Intuitive Eating” section of our website for more information on the why and how of eating intuitively.

I’m very excited to guide and support you as you discover and adopt this practice for yourself. I will be in touch again soon with more information on how to do just that.

Why am I so vocal about ditching diets?

If you’ve known me since I discovered Intuitive Eating in 2015, or if you follow me on social media, you know I am very vocal (ok, even annoying) when it comes to the topic of ditching diets.  

It’s because they're THAT harmful. 

I have dedicated my professional career to the care and rehabilitation of others. I have been a physical therapist for nearly 17 years, and two years ago I became certified as a 200 hour yoga teacher. In 2017 I started an LLC called Compassionate Healing Services, and I am proud to say that I am making a name for myself in my little corner of the yoga world. Last year, I completed both level one and level two training for Thai Yoga Therapy. 

I list my credentials mostly so you’ll listen when I say this: PLEASE DON’T DIET EVER 

AGAIN. It’s incredibly harmful to your health and well being. I should know, I did it nearly continuously for 20 years. 

I read “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 2015 at the recommendation of a therapist and I have never looked back. The information in this and related books (such as Health at Every Size and Body Respect, both by Dr. Linda Bacon) is nothing short of revolutionary in the fight against obesity. I have seen this fight lost by too many family members and clients to be silent as people continue to blame themselves instead of the process and mentality of dieting. 

Spreading awareness and teaching others about Intuitive Eating is my life's work because it has healed me and my family from the inside out. I’d be honored if I played even a small part in helping it do the same for you. 

Ways to get started: 

  1. READ THE BOOK! Reply to this email to claim a copy for only $11 plus shipping if applicable. 

  2. Join our Facebook group! Search Intuitive Eating: Radical Acceptance for free support. 

  3. Follow us on Instagram @chsyoga for Intuitive Eating related posts. 

  4. Visit the “Intuitive Eating” section of our website to learn about set point theory, Health At Every Size (HAES), the obesity paradox and more! 

  5. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation call with Kathleen. 

  6. Invite a friend to join you and us! Having a support buddy makes ditching the diet mentality a lot easier.  

Watch out for the next email, which will contain a guide to making any meal an intuitive one. 

How to make any meal intuitive

One of the hardest parts of coming to Intuitive Eating as a dieter is letting go of any and all rules in regards to what, when, or how much you eat. Food rules are all a dieter knows! I enjoy the freedom of IE now, but I remember how disconcerting it was to understand the theory of IE but not really know how to put it into practice.

So, I created this general guide. I hope it helps!

  1. Realize you're hungry. Try your best to discern between physical and emotional hunger. If it's emotional hunger and you still want to eat that's FINE, just do your best to identify the emotion you're trying to soothe (boredom counts!)

  2. Decide what you REALLY want to eat. Hopefully that option is available to you in that moment. If not, make a plan to have that item soon and choose the most appealing option available to you.

  3. TASTE the food! Pay attention to the flavor and texture. If a food doesn't taste as good as you imagined, perhaps that's a signal that your initial assessment about physical vs. emotional hunger was off (or a confirmation of emotional hunger) or that you aren't eating what your BODY really wants. You could also be thirsty.

  4. When your stomach starts to feel full, take two more mindful bites of food, again really tasting it. Notice if the flavor has dulled. Consider taking a break up to 20 minutes to determine if you're actually full. If you know you're still hungry after a few minutes, there's no need to wait longer. If you’re still hungry but it isn’t tasting as good as it was, perhaps your body is asking for something different.

  5. Pay attention to how your body feels after you eat. Do you feel warm and satisfied yet light and energized? Perfect! No? No problem! Meet yourself with compassion and figure out what to tweak next time. Most importantly, DO NOT SHAME OR JUDGE YOURSELF. This is hard, and it won't become second nature overnight. Remember, every single meal is an opportunity to start again. Like any new skill takes a lot of practice to master. Have fun with it! Remember that you cannot fail—the only goal is to learn from your mistakes.

Intrigued but a little overwhelmed?! Kathleen offers personalized, affordable support via Zoom video conferencing. See “Prices” tab for information about coaching packages!

Here’s what clients have said about their experience working with Kathleen:

“My Intuitive Eating journey began a little over a year ago with Kathleen’s introductory workshop. Her extensive knowledge combined with gentle direction gave the feeling of comfort while discussing a new concept. Her passion on the topic kept me engaged during the course. The tools she gave me that day allowed me to free myself from diet culture and live my life more in sync with my body and mind. I highly recommend attending the workshop of this dedicated mentor.” - Elise G.

"I attended Kathleen's introductory workshop on Intuitive Eating almost one year ago. Little did I know at the time how impactful this new way of thinking would be on my life. I was never someone who thought that I was entrenched in diet culture. But attending this class gave me an awareness that I never think I was clear enough to see before. Kathleen's knowledge on the topic was extensive and she taught without judgement. It was a freeing space where there was comfort in expressing feelings and struggles, while learning to become more aware of the connection between body and mind. This is truly her passion, and she has helped to jumpstart a new way of life for me." - Jamie Y.

“Great workshop! Informative. We’ve been doing our best to stay cognitive of our eating. Thanks for a wonderful time.” Dan H.

“Saturday was a life-altering experience for me, even at this stage in my IE journey. It was profoundly impactful on the way I see myself and a powerful reminder of my worthiness to live a full and happy life at any size by shirking diet culture completely and honoring my body. The hypnosis and yoga sessions blew my mind. I have no other way to say it. I will treasure the learning, sharing, and transformation forever.” S.J.

“I enjoyed the presentation of IE. It seems as if you would work at these ideas and drop the obsession and constant worry about the scale, the food, etc. It would be fantastic.” - Ruth G.