Intuitive Eating X: Let’s Finally Talk About Nutrition

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

Principle 10: Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

The final principle of intuitive eating tackles the importance of giving your body the nutrients it needs. First and foremost, nutrition is just as important as all the other nine principles. Simply put, nutrition is about variety.

It’s not one meal or snack that will make or break you. But it’s a series of imperfect meals with varying nutrients that provides your body energy and plays a role in your overall health. Health is a combination of confounding factors like social connections, socioeconomic status, genetics, stress levels, and so much more. Nutrition happens to be one of them. As a result, nutrition only plays a part in your overall health.

Eating to nourish your body isn’t about eating certain foods and demonizing others. Nourishing your body means you’re feeding your body what it desires in a way that’s manageable and pleasing to you. There are no feelings of guilt or pain from fullness. It’s all about feeling pleasantly satiated, having the energy to do everything you love, and having bountiful variety in your meals. Eat enough of the fruits and vegetables that you enjoy in all the different ways they can be prepared – steamed, baked, roasted, fried, sauteed, raw - you name it. Fruits and vegetables provide you with vitamins, phytochemicals, fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and energy. Eat your grains which provide you with carbohydrates, fuel, fiber, and B vitamins. Eat meats and legumes. They give your body energy, protein, and minerals. Enjoy dairy products. They provide your body with energy, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fats, which are needed to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, D, and K.  Make sure to incorporate all macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fat) in your diet. Your body needs fat, carbohydrates, and protein to feel at its best. Carbohydrates provide your body with energy. Your brain only uses carbs for energy. Protein helps your body to maintain and build muscles and produce amino-acid base hormones that are needed for homeostasis, blood sugar levels and so much more. Fats like olive oil and avocados provide your body with fat-soluble vitamins and supports lipid-based hormones which maintain function of your sex organs. Lastly, try to implement nutrition-dense foods in your diet. Nutrition dense foods provide a lot of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and fiber while also providing your body with energy, all in one food.

All food, no matter how you categorize it, provides your body with nutrients, and helps your body to function at its best. That means ignoring the nutrition label and focusing on the foods that you really enjoy and make you feel your best. Even though nutrition is essential, eating the foods you enjoy, like cakes, ice cream, and cookies is just as important (Principle I!). And with the last principle under your belt, you’re now on your to becoming an intuitive eater.

Cheat Sheet: What is …

  • Phytochemicals: Phytochemicals are a recently new discovery in the nutrition realm. They are chemicals produced by plants that may have health benefits; however, they are not essential nutrients that your body needs. How phytochemicals work and their functions in the body is unknown due to their relatively new discovery.
  • Fiber: Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body can’t digest. It can regulate blood sugar, aid in satiety, regulate cholesterol levels, promote regular bowel movement, and prevent constipation.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants are a nutrient that may prevent or decrease some types of cell damage. Antioxidants work by helping the body to clear itself of free radicals by binding them and preventing them from damaging your cells. Some examples of antioxidants are vitamin C, E, selenium, and carotenoids. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants.
  • Minerals: Minerals are inorganic elements and are important in maintenance functions that the body carries out like fluid balance, digestion, blood clotting, and so much more. They can be found in a variety of foods.
  • Vitamins: Vitamins are nutrients that have a variety of functions in the body. Like minerals, they help with maintaining function. There are also some vitamins that can be classified as antioxidants like Vitamin C and D.

It’s important to work with a dietitian to find out your specific needs, since everyone’s nutrition needs, and goals are different!

-Harvard. “Fiber.” The Nutrition Source, The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 28 Oct. 2019, Accessed: 10, Nov. 2021.
-Harvard. “Vitamins and Minerals.” The Nutrition Source, The President and Fellows of Harvard College, Accessed: 10, Nov. 202.1
-National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Antioxidants: In Depth.” National Center or Complementary and Integrative Health, Nov. 2013, Accessed: 10, Nov. 2021.
-Linus Pauling Institute. “Phytochemicals.” Oregon State University, Oregon State University, Accessed: 10, Nov. 2021.
-Tribole, Evelyn, and Elyse Resch. Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach. Fourth Edition ed., St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2020.
-University of Michigan Health. “Minerals: Their Functions and Sources”. University of Michigan Health, Regents of the University of Michigan, 17 Dec. 2020, Accessed: 10, Nov. 2021.