Intuitive Eating IX: I Like to Move It! Move It! I Like to... Move It!

Contributed By: Amber Sullivan UGA Dietetic Student


- What is Intuitive Eating? Intuitive eating is the art of listening to your body and eating whatever it desires whenever it desires it. Most importantly, intuitive eating is not a diet.
- Principle 1: Reject the Diet Mentality
- Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger
- Principle 3: Make Peace with Food
-Principle 4: Challenge the Food Police
-Principle 5: Discover the Satisfaction Factor
-Principle 6: Feel Your Fullness
-Principle 7: Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
- Principle 8: Respect your Body

Principle 9: Movement – Feel the Difference

It’s time to talk about the importance of exercise, and no, it’s not calories being burned. It’s moving and using your muscles for maintenance. Exercise is essential for maintaining overall health and should be a part of your routine. This doesn’t mean you have to follow a strict exercise regimen or spend one or more hours at the gym. It simply means moving your body in ways that are sustainable and enjoyable to you. This could entail walking, biking, hiking, snowboarding, skiing, and playing sports. You can make it more fun by doing it with a friend/family member, adding variety (don’t simply do cardio or strength-focused exercise, both are important), or listening to your favorite podcast, singer, or book.

To get the most out of your exercise, you have to give your body the nutrients it needs. This means eating enough calories when you’re exercising so that you don’t feel horrible. Exercise shouldn’t feel like a punishment. For most chronic dieters, activity isn’t enjoyable due to them participating in a fitness program during a diet that limits their calories (energy). The low amounts of calories resulted in them not having enough energy for their workout, making them feel sluggish and like the exercise was a chore. Some chronic dieters participated in crash exercising, which is similar to a fad diet in that it lasts for a short time. This brings up an essential aspect of exercising. If you’re doing it to obtain your “ideal” body, you’re going to find it challenging to sustain your routine, just like with fad diets. Starting with an intense program that is painful is also another reason exercising isn’t maintained. Yes, it’s essential to move your muscles. It can even be fun to challenge your body, but remember, exercise shouldn’t be painful. If it is, you’re doing more than your body can handle, and that’s not healthy. For those just starting to incorporate exercise into your routine, start slow and explore different movements until you find what you like. Starting slow will decrease the likelihood of you harming your body and increase the possibility of creating a sustainable and enjoyable routine.

Lastly, it’s okay not to exercise every day (resting your body is important too!!)  or spend hours at the gym. It’s okay to go a week or two without exercise when your first starting out (or you’ve been at it for a while) and making time for it in your schedule. As long as you don’t give it up, because movement is just as important as the food you eat.

Tips for Overcoming the barriers preventing you from exercise:

  • Focus on how it feels: Focus on how you feel after, before, and during exercising and compare it to how you feel when you’re inactive
    • Stress levels
    • Energy levels
    • General sense of well-being
    • Sense of empowerment
    • Quality of Sleep
  • Separate exercise from weight loss:
    • If your reason for exercising is weight loss, then the likelihood of you maintaining your exercise routine is slim. It also takes away from the multitude of benefits that impact your overall health for the better.
  • Physical activity is the ultimate stress buffer
    • Helps protect your body from effects of chronic stress
      • Chronic stress can cause a hormonal imbalance, increased production of cortisol (a hormone that increases appetite), and cause insulin to be less effective.
    • Improves quality of sleep
  • Focus on movement as a way of taking care of yourself
    • Improves stress tolerance, cardiovascular health, metabolism, satiety cues, appetite regulation, learning and memory, bone strength, and so much more
  • Don’t get caught in Exercise Mind Traps
    • Movement is movement. You don’t have to exercise for a minimum amount of time for it to count. No matter how long or intense the exercise is your body gains benefits.
  • The No-time-to spare Trap
    • Make movement a non-negotiable priority in your life, so it won’t slip through the cracks in your schedule
    • You don’t have to go to the gym or a group fitness class. Just spend some time moving your body. Whether that’s walking around a soccer field while your kids at practice or walking during your breaks at work.
  • Didn’t sweat then it must not count mentality
    • This isn’t true! Movement is movement. Exercise is exercise. The amount of sweat you produce has no impact on the validity of exercising



Tribole, Evelyn, and Elyse Resch. Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach. Fourth Edition ed., St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2020.