The Difference Between Mindful Eating and Intuitive Eating

mindful eating and intuitive eating
Photo by Pablo Merchan Montes

Diet culture is everywhere. For some people, it works. For others, it’s damaging and dredges up a shameful relationship with food that’s never found healing. There are new concepts on the foodie front that inspire conscious cuisine and a healthy relationship with food that don’t require measurable results in the form of weight loss or a reduced caloric intake: mindful eating and intuitive eating.

Mindful eating is about paying attention to the food you are eating in the present moment and intentionally selecting food based upon the experience of eating and nurturing your body, judgment-free.

Intuitive eating is a concept developed by dieticians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in which you consume food that focuses on attaining a sense of “true health.” This is achieved by listening to your body and what it wants as well as paying attention to information on the foods you serve up for yourself.

While diets tend to force the dieter to focus on the rules of what can and can’t be consumed, mindful eating and intuitive eating both take the body on a journey of:

  1. discovering where there is a lack in nutrients,

  2. when it has reached the conscious point of fullness

  3. and highlighting those other inner cues to establish a healthy relationship with eating.

Mindful eating and intuitive eating are not

  • focused on food restriction,

  • ways to promote weight loss

  • or used to judge the food you put in your body and criticize what is being consumed.

According to Registered Dietician, Vincci Tusi, Tusi believes it’s possible to “engage in mindful eating without becoming an intuitive eater” but it's not possible to be an intuitive eater without incorporating mindful eating.

Mindful eating is about developing an awareness of how food is making you feel regardless of what it consists of, like keeping a food journal and recording how your body feels after eating. This means eating the meal you’re hungry for, but savoring every bite by thoroughly chewing your food, making a moment out of the meal, and stopping when you know you’re going to be full.

To engage in intuitive eating, maybe the pasta in the spaghetti is made of cauliflower and brown rice because you know the gluten will make you feel bloated or the cheese is vegan so that your body has an easier time digesting a non-dairy item. These examples, of course, vary from person to person. The bottom line is that listening to your body is taking place so that eating becomes less of another activity and more of a conscious action used for fuel, to promote longevity, and to set you up for a better day. By paying attention to what is in your food, you’re paying attention to what is going in your body.

It’s not the same old struggle of counting calories, forcing yourself onto a scale for measurable proof of change, or working out to please a calorie counter. What each of these practices does is breathe new life into the experience of eating. They bring awareness to where food is coming from and what your body is craving (and why) all while stripping away the notion of good food versus bad food.

How do you know which one is right for you? Try them! See how both mindful eating and intuitive eating impact your behaviors or the level of satisfaction you experience with your m