What’s the Difference Between Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating?

Written By: Brianna Hanson and Elizabeth Beil

Mindful and Intuitive eating are two terms that have recently grown in popularity. They are both used by many non-diet dietitians and therefore, are usually perceived as interchangeable terms. So, what’s the difference between the two?

In its simplest form, intuitive eating is an umbrella term that encompasses mindful eating as an aspect. Intuitive eating goes beyond the eating experience and encourages people to actively reject diet mentality and change their relationship with food and their body.

Intuitive eating has 10 principles that can be summarized in saying…

  • Rely on internal hunger and satiety cues
  • Allow yourself unconditional permission to eat. 
  • You ultimately you make peace with food

Intuitive eating is designed to help you achieve not just being intuitive with your food and food choices, but also being intuitive with your movement, relationships, really all accepts of your life! This process can take awhile and so being patient with yourself is key!

What Is Intuitive Eating? - Nutrition Stripped® | Intuitive Eating Nutrition

Mindful Eating:

Mindful eating is a concept that involves paying attention to your eating experience without passing judgment on yourself. The eating experience begins when deciding what to eat and continues until the very last bite of food. Mindful eating helps us become aware of thoughts and feeling towards food while allowing us to tune into our hunger and fullness cues. This can increase the enjoyment of eating and prevent overeating. 

Other benefits of mindful eating include the possibility of freeing yourself from negative thought patterns around foods and shifting food decisions from external authorities to your own body’s needs. 

I like to use a method called the mindfulness plate. This plate includes many components that make up a mindful eating experience. 

Mindful Eating Plate - Eat.Q.
  1. Observe

Notice the hunger or fullness cues that your body is experiencing. Is your stomach rumbling, how is your energy level, are you stressed, satisfied, full, etc.? 

  1. Savor

Notice the characteristics of your food. Look at the colors on your plate, smell the food as you bring it close to your mouth, notice the texture in your mouth. It the food sweet, salty, crunchy, soft, etc.? 

  1. Nonjudgment

Shut down any thoughts that tell you there are “good” and “bad” foods, or that you “have to” eat a certain item on your plate. Practice compassion for yourself and your thoughts around food.  

  1. In-the-Moment

When you are eating, just eat. This is way easier said than done and not always realistic. However, if we want to truly be mindful during our eating experience, we have to cut out surrounding distractions such as work and tv shows. 

  1. Aware

Taste the food you are eating instead of mindlessly chewing on what is in front you. Ways to help you accomplish this include chewing 30 times, putting your utensils down between bites, and portioning out sizes so you have to pause before going back for more. 

For your next meal, try out a couple of these components of the mindfulness plate in order find more enjoyment from food and to pay better attention to your body’s needs. 

Working from a place of being mindful with your meals and snacks can allow you to experience those meals and snacks in an intuitive way which is ultimitly the goal I have for my clients. What are your thoughts and experience with mindful and intuitive eating.

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