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The Difference Between Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating

By Polly Neve Registered Dietitian & Katherine Kimber Registered Dietitian | March 25, 2022
Women in yellow dress smiling at her food, eating mindfully.
Are you confused about the difference between Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating? If so, you are in the right place.
 
This article will run through exactly what these two concepts are. It will also detail their key differences and crossovers.

Let’s start by defining Mindful Eating Vs Intuitive Eating….

What is Mindful Eating?

“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. Mindful 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.”
The Centre for Mindful Eating
 
So mindful eating is paying attention to sensations, thoughts and emotions that arise during eating.
 
A lot of us have idea’s about how we should feel about eating a particular meal or snack. For example, some may feel guilty for enjoying a “naughty” food or proud for sticking to a diet rule. With mindful eating, you remain curious and non-judgmental. This enhances your ability to truly connect with your body. Mindful Eating is a tool discover the way of eating that feels best for you, as an individual.

What is Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive eating is a framework, of which mindful eating is a key component.
There are 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating. They can be boiled down to these three core characteristics:
  • Eat for Physical Rather than Emotional Reasons
  • Rely on Internal Hunger and Satiety Cues
  • Unconditional Permission to Eat
Intuitive Eating incorporates your instinct, emotion and rational thoughts about food. This helps you to move past fear and judgement and find true satisfaction and peace when eating. It is an evidence-based, mind-body approach to break free from the diet mentality.
 
There are over 100 scientific studies that have shown the benefits of intuitive eating, such as:
  • Improved self-esteem & body image
  • Increased body appreciation
  • Decreased emotional eating
  • Decreased disordered eating
  • Improved emotional coping skills
  • Higher HDL (good) cholesterol and lower triglyceride levels
  • Increased satisfaction in life
  • And more!

If you would like to read more about the framework of Intuitive Eating, we have written a detailed introduction to it here.
As a Registered Dietitian and  Intuitive Eating Coach,   I often guide my clients through mindful eating exercises. It’s amazing to hear what flavours, textures, smells and emotions people notice when they pay attention. Eating mindfully and without judgement allows my clients to identify firstly, whether they actually like the food, and secondly, how much of that food is necessary for them to find the point of satisfaction.

Stop Obsessing and Regain Control With Food: Your 7-day Guide 

Practical, easy-to-implement tips to feel less obsessive and out-of-control around food.

Stop Obsessing and Regain Control With Food: Your 7-day Guide


 

What are the key differences between intuitive eating and mindful eating?

The key difference is that Intuitive Eating is a broader framework/philosophy that encompasses:
Mindful eating is one tool to better understand your body and food preferences.
Intuitive eating goes some steps further and provides more guidance about what to do with that information. It is also a more holistic framework as it encompasses the above bullet points. These points are all key in truly arriving in a place of being at peace with your body, and in your relationship to food.

Are there any similarities between Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating?

Both Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating encourage increased mind-body attunement to eating cues.
Neither mindful eating nor intuitive eating are diets. Neither are meant to promote weight loss or to change body size/shape. This would be going against the very core of these frameworks. In fact, they encourage breaking free from the diet mentality. 

 

Diet Mentality vs Non-Diet

I want to note that connecting with your body may not be possible or safe for everyone. If you’ve experienced trauma or have an active eating disorder, these tools may not be appropriate for you right now, and that’s ok. Consider discussing your unique situation with a Registered Dietitian or therapist who has experience in eating concerns. They will be able to give you the advice that is right for you.
At Nude Nutrition we are Intuitive Eating experts, offering both individual support for those seeking a healthier relationship to food and their bodies.

In Summary

Mindful eating is a tool that can helps you to bring non-judgemental awareness to the experience of eating. Both Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating promote mind-body connection. They both encourage listening to body cues such as hunger, fullness and satiety. Intuitive eating is a broader framework of which mindful eating is a key component.

Stop Obsessing and Regain Control With Food: Your 7-day Guide 

Practical, easy-to-implement tips to feel less obsessive and out-of-control around food.

Stop Obsessing and Regain Control With Food: Your 7-day Guide


Welcome to Nude Nutrition

I am Katherine Kimber, a Registered Dietitian, and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor with a first-class Undergraduate and Masters’s degree from Kings College London.

Are you fed up with not knowing what you should or shouldn’t be eating? Perhaps relying on external tools such as the time of day, points systems, calorie tracking or rigid rules to show you the way.

If you’re ready to get out of your head when it comes to food decisions, and more into your body then you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to strip the nonsense, so you can feel better in your body and figure out a sustainable approach to movement and nutrition.

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7 Steps To Food Peace & Food Freedom

If you struggle with yo-yo dieting, emotional eating, comfort eating, binge eating, compulsive overeating or feeling guilty when you eat, this 20-minute audio download with an actionable steps in a workbook is right for you.

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Client Stories

Ready to change your life?

Get inspired by recent clients who have transformed their lives. From battling with binge eating, feeling addicted to food, and yo-yo dieting, to normalised eating and food freedom. 

From an 8 year battle with “binge eating”, to “my life no longer revolves around food”.

Miss G – “Reclaim Your Intuition” + ongoing support

Sarah thought she was addicted to sugar, mostly chocolate. So much so, she was going to spend thousands of pounds to go to a sugar addiction rehab centre, leaving her 9 month old son behind. Her eating habits were out of control, and her weight was increasing rapidly. She thought a Dietitian would just tell her what to eat and was hesitant… however, realised this is far from the truth! She has now realised she does not have an addiction, now has normalised her eating, she can be around chocolate without needing to eat it, has more structure, more awareness, is more in tune with her natural hunger signals.

Miss M – “Reclaim Your Intuition” programme

From a lifelong battle with binge eating, dieting, and an attempt to end her life earlier this year because of it, to being able to look forward to social occasions without agonising over menus, being more present with friends and family, feeling less isolated, and a sense of absolute freedom around food. “This programme has changed my life”.  

Mrs P – “Reclaim Your Intuition” + ongoing support

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