Introduction to Intuitive Eating

Tips for letting go of dieting rules and listening to your body

Ivey prepares the sweet potato for her Mac 'N' Cheez. Photo by Kent Anderson
Ivey prepares the sweet potato for her Mac ‘N’ Cheez. Photo by Kent Anderson

One of the first things I tell my health coach clients is that everyone is different; what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the next. 

There seems to be a new diet trend every year, and most of us have tried at least one. Some enforce ridiculous rules, like banning beans (one of the healthiest foods on the planet) or certain vegetables and fruits, such as bananas or eggplant. This can lead us to not only judge specific foods as “good” or “bad,” but also ourselves when we fall short. The more we demonize foods and forbid them, the more it leads to food obsessions and bingeing. 

The good news is there is a new trend on the rise: intuitive eating, a radically different “un-diet” that encourages you to listen to your body, trust your hunger cues and cravings, and enjoy food again without the heaviness of rules. Focusing on how certain foods make you feel can be a guide for mindful eating; identifying those that don’t agree with you and those that fuel your body might be the secret to effective weight loss, positive body image, and a healthy relationship with food. 

Letting go of rules might feel like a terrifying free fall, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Most of us innately know which foods make us feel our best and when our body truly is hungry—we just need to start listening to ourselves, jump off the roller coaster of dieting, and embrace the joy of eating.

Photo by Kent Anderson
Photo by Kent Anderson

How to Start Eating Intuitively

Options: Instead of giving yourself restrictions, give yourself options. When you feel hungry, take a moment to notice your cravings. What is your energy level like? Would fruit for breakfast feel good or does your body need something more substantial like protein-rich eggs?

Listen: Just because your friend has lost weight cutting out carbohydrates doesn’t mean that approach will work for you. Each of us has a different metabolism and different nutritional needs. Remember to take note of which foods make you feel good, energized, and fueled and which foods are hard for you to digest and make you feel sluggish. Let these become your individualized “rules.” If you notice beans are hard to digest or if common irritants like corn, soy, dairy, or gluten upset your stomach or cause joint pain, listen to your body’s red flags. Replace dairy, corn, soy, and wheat with alternatives, or consider soaked, sprouted beans that are easier to digest.

Kindness: Be kind to yourself. When you stop demonizing food, you give yourself permission to eat. Let’s say you’re craving M&Ms. By allowing yourself to have the M&Ms, you eliminate the feeling of being prisoner to your cravings. And guess what happens? You can have a few M&Ms and move on without eating the entire bag. What a sense of relief that provides—and a feeling of success versus failure.

Ivey's Mac 'N' Cheez. Photo by Kent Anderson
Mac ‘N’ Cheez. Photo by Kent Anderson

Mac N’ Cheez

Mac Ingredients

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 sweet potato, peeled and spiralized

Cheez Ingredients 

1 cup cashews (either soaked in cold water overnight in the fridge or soaked in boiling water for 5 minutes and drained)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 grated garlic clove

The juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. tahini

1/4 tsp. ground turmeric

1/8 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/4 cup hot water to thin

» Add all cheez ingredients, except water, to a high-speed blender. Blend to combine, adding the water last and gradually until a sauce forms. Set aside.  

» Using a cast-iron skillet, add the olive oil. Add spiralized sweet potato noodles and sauté for 4 minutes, until slightly golden and soft.

» Combine the noodles with the cheez sauce. Transfer to a plate and garnish with fresh basil leaf. 

Cookies 'N' Cream Milkshake. Photo by Kent Anderson; Props courtesy of Hive Home, Gift & Garden. Clothing courtesy of Hive for Her
Cookies ‘N’ Cream Milkshake. Photo by Kent Anderson; Props courtesy of Hive Home, Gift & Garden. Clothing courtesy of Hive for Her

Cookies N’ Cream Milkshake


2 frozen bananas

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 date

2 tbsp. cacao nibs 

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

» Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until thick and creamy.



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