Food

What Happened When I Started Intuitive Eating

kelsey miller intuitive eating

I turned to my husband in the kitchen this morning and said, “Huh, I think I’m going to have a piece of cake”…

It was 6 a.m. and we’d been up for five hours already, wildly jet lagged from our recent honeymoon. (The cake was a mini version of the one from our wedding, which he’d surprised me with the day we came home.) He nodded, then shuffled back toward the bedroom, utterly unfazed by my cake announcement. A few minutes later, as I forked through a slice of leftover passion-fruit cake, I had a thought, and smiled. I was utterly unfazed too. Five years ago, this moment would have been a crisis — another rock bottom from which I climbed up on the flimsy rope of the next diet plan, hoping like hell this one would hold until I made it to the top. Back then, I might have eaten three or four cake slices right out of the fridge, shoveling them in like a thief, keeping one eye out for witnesses and barely tasting a thing. And then I would have snuck back into bed, stuffed and panicked, and Googled “paleo” and “whole30 before and after” until the sun came up.

That was how I lived back then. I’d spent my whole life searching for the diet — or nutrition plan, or “lifestyle” — that would fix my body and therefore everything else in my life. The fact that none of them did was, I knew, my fault alone. I was the failure. I was the cake-hoarding maniac who didn’t know how to eat like a normal person (despite the decades of research I’d devoted to the subject). I wasn’t a person at all, really. I was just a “before” picture.

Then one morning in 2013, I was outside running through a punishing pre-breakfast workout when it suddenly occurred to me: Oh, diets are bullshit. I wasn’t the failure. I was playing a losing game. Dieting failed more than 80% of the time (I’d read the studies! I knew this!). I felt like someone raised in a cult, finally recognizing my leader as a fraud. But I didn’t know any other way. I needed some kind of diet deprogramming, but did that even exist? As it turned out, yes. It’s called intuitive eating.

That’s how I describe intuitive eating when someone asks me what it is. It’s not a new concept; the anti-diet has been around pretty much since the diet. Dietitians Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole were among the first to turn it into an actual program, which they laid out in their book, Intuitive Eating (first published in 1995, followed by two later editions). Intuitive eating was soon adopted by a number of nutrition professionals (and eating disorder treatment programs), but still, it’s the kind of mystical-sounding phrase that often raises eyebrows — which tend to shoot up even higher when I explain the fundamentals. In intuitive eating, you can (and should) eat whatever you want. There are no good or bad foods, no points, no goal weight — no focus on weight whatsoever. The point is to eradicate all those judgments and emotional hang-ups we’ve attached to eating, and learn to see food as just food again. Perhaps even crazier, you learn to trust yourself to make your own choices. Everything is on the table.

If that sounds bananas to you, rest assured, I felt the same. One of the first things I told my nutritional counselor, Theresa Kinsella (an RD trained in intuitive eating), was that I was unable to control myself around carbs. Her response? Eat them. She told me to listen closely to my cravings, as well as my hunger and fullness. The reason I felt so crazy around bread was that I’d spent so many years treating it like forbidden fruit. The only solution was to let myself off leash, eat all the bread my body asked for, and soon my brain would get the message that bread wasn’t going anywhere. Once it sunk in that this wasn’t another between-diets binge period, I wouldn’t feel the burning urge to fill up on starchy delights before the free-for-all was over and it was back to “being good.”

So, terrified as I was, I followed instructions. I ate bread, potatoes, pasta, all of it. I felt like the very hungry caterpillar, but with pizza. A couple weeks in, something happened. It felt like a fist slowly unclenching, in my mind. My intense carb cravings mellowed and suddenly I could hear my appetite beneath them. Can we get some more protein in here, please? And any chance a salad came with that pizza?

I reported The Great Carb miracle to Theresa. She simply reviewed the food journals I’d kept and said, “You know, you didn’t actually have all that many carbs, right?” I thought I’d been going hog wild, but Theresa pointed out that even at my high point, I wasn’t eating much more carbohydrate than that which my body and brain needed to function. Of course, it hadn’t occurred to me that my body and brain did need it to function. (FYI, we all have our own “forbidden fruit” foods, but this carb obsession is extremely common, particularly among dieters.) It had been a long time since I thought of carbohydrate as just a basic nutrient, rather than The Enemy. Theresa reminded me: “You need full permission to eat.”

Making peace with food and gaining permission to eat it is one of the ten principles of intuitive eating. These are not to be confused with food rules. Intuitive eating principles include honoring your hunger (if you’re hungry, eat!); prioritizing satisfaction (if your appetite wants chocolate, don’t try to trick it with a piece of gum); and respecting your body (because hating it won’t help). All of these pillars are crucial and life-changing, but permission to eat is, perhaps, the first and highest hurdle to leap — especially for a lifelong dieter and occasional disordered eater, like me. I was so accustomed to eating with guard rails and following plans that the idea of just asking myself, what do I want? and eating it — in public, even — felt like a radical act.

Frankly, this is all pretty radical in a diet-addled culture that insists all foods are either good or pure evil. In those early months, I felt less like an ex-cult member and more like a heretic. Friends asked things like, “But if you can eat whatever you want, won’t you just eat donuts all day?” or “What about health?” It always struck me as curious (and telling). Because if you take ten seconds to actually think about these questions, the answers are pretty clear. No, of course you won’t eat donuts all day. Has anyone ever eaten more than three donuts and not felt totally gross?

As I continued practicing intuitive eating, I noticed I didn’t actually like some of my so-called “favorite foods.” I used to lust after fried food like General Tso’s chicken — preferably the kind sitting under a heat lamp in a midtown salad bar. The first time I ate it after starting intuitive eating, I had to stop a few bites in. I could suddenly taste the reheated stale grease, and noticed how instantly queasy I felt. I was hungry, I realized — and this wasn’t going to fill me up. It was just going to make me feel lousy. I needed something with substance. I had similar revelations with frozen yogurt (Nope, my body said. If I want real ice cream, don’t try and fool me with this) and Diet Coke (yuck, that aspartame!). It’s not that I suddenly craved only organic, wild-caught, sustainable and ethically prepared fish. But I became a much more engaged and aware eater. I learned the specifics of my taste, the relationship between my appetite and energy level; I learned how to make myself feel satisfied and fueled.

I also learned it didn’t always work out perfectly. Sometimes I’d get held up at work, come home starving and stressed and scarf down a bag of chips. Other times, I didn’t have the cash to get the sushi I wanted, and made do with what I had at home. In this way, intuitive eating is like dieting: Neither of them will fix everything in your life.

And as for the health question, there is no conflict between healthy eating and intuitive eating. Quite the contrary, intuitive eating makes you a deeply mindful eater. It teaches you to listen to your hunger and fullness cues, and to pay attention while you eat (to your food and body, not your phone).

But will it “fix” your body? This is the third, sometimes unspoken, question that I get about intuitive eating. Will it make me thin, at last? No easy answers here, I’m afraid. Letting go of that question is one of the most important (and really tough) principles of intuitive eating. It’s what the authors call “body respect,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like: No more self-loathing. Your body is not some hateful thing, and food is not a weapon you use to punish it or whip it into some specific shape. That said, some people’s bodies do change when they do intuitive eating. Mine did. (Still is! Bodies change!).

Then again, my whole life changed. My eating and exercise habits changed, my relationships changed, my career changed big time. I went from living in constant pursuit of thinness to actually living. I stopped thinking about things I’d do when I was thin: the trips I wanted to take, the parties I wanted to host — even the wedding I’d never really let myself consider before. My life was suddenly full as I began to do everything I’d been holding off on, waiting until my body was acceptable. When I made the decision to embrace it as is, the whole world opened up. Anything that changed in my appearance was a side-effect — small potatoes, compared to the rest.

Body acceptance is not “giving up on yourself.” And eating without restriction is not mindless, wild bingeing. It’s the opposite. I thought of that this morning, standing in my quiet kitchen, eating cake before dawn. Had someone walked in and seen me, I suppose they might have thought I was “being bad.” But oh well, I knew better. I knew my sleep-deprived body was reaching for a quick hit of sugary energy. I’d given it some soft boiled eggs first, knowing that it needed protein, too. I knew as well that this was my favorite cake in the whole world, and that was as good a reason as any to have some.

Then I turned back to my plate. I wanted to enjoy every bite.

Kelsey Miller


Kelsey Miller is an author, speaker, freelance writer, and creator of The Anti-Diet Project. Her second book, I’ll Be There for You, came out this fall. Here’s her week of outfits, as well.

P.S. Seeing my body with new eyes, and wise words to remember.

(Illustration by Abbey Lossing. Portrait by Harry Tanielyan.)

  1. Loved this article and had a similar experience. Another book that was helpful to me was French Women don’t get Fat. The title is actually making me kind of cringe now BUT it’s about intuitive eating and when I read it over a decade ago it was eye-opening.

  2. This immediately made me think of that time when I’d just started my first job after college, came home to my flatmate and announced with great importance, “today I am having nutella toast for dinner, because it is what I WANT and because I AM AN ADULT and I can eat whatever I want!”

    A couple hours later I got my period.

  3. Allison says...

    I think this is great, but I also think that refined sugary foods beget more refined sugary foods. I woke up craving sugary cereal yesterday so I had some, but then just had the same craving today. For me, I need to watch my sugar intake because it starts me down a road where I’m eating dessert or a few desserts every day. It’s important to be both mindful and intuitive.

  4. Daphne Phillips says...

    I follow a low-FODMAP style of eating for digestive health (it really makes a difference for me) and I also generally follow an intuitive-eating style… I would emphasize that part of the intuitive-eating means listening to how your body FEELS when you eat certain things — it is not about what you WANT to eat, but really listening to what your body needs and what it can handle. I would love a slice of cake in the morning occasionally but I would feel TERRIBLE physically. However, a slice of real sourdough toast with butter and peanut butter? Yes! Mind and body happy! Do what works for you.

    • Becca Lynn says...

      I feel this! I wanted some donuts today so i had a few… and now my body is simultaneously craving more sugar and feeling pretty icky. Mindfulness and intuition have to go hand in hand for me.

  5. Madeline says...

    Love this. Needed it. Thank you <3

  6. Shena says...

    For me, if I eat the bread and carbs that I want to eat I actually get headaches. If I eat sugar my anxiety hikes up. I can’t do intuitive eating…I have to follow guidelines to stay comfortable, and to stay a healthy weight. I agree that diets can be difficult and usually don’t last. But they can also be helpful guidelines for a healthy ideal to aim towards. My daughter with autism does remarkably-well neurologically on the Keto diet. When she ate all her Halloween candy, she couldn’t concentrate with her tutor for 3 days afterwards. I have to say that my head swims sometimes with all the food rules. And when my imagination for dinners run out, the diets barely seems worth the mental energy. So I get where you are coming from. But in the end, I have to stick as close as possible to our annoying diets to keep the brood healthy and happy.

  7. MK says...

    If anyone is interested, “Dietitians Unplugged” is a fantastic podcast that explores intuitive eating and health at every size principles.
    I think it’s also important to note- intuitive eating is NOT a weight loss regimen. It’s not about that.
    One thing that’s clear to me reading these comments- there is a boat load of pain around these issues, so many of us struggling with binge eating or restricting. We feel so out of control that we can’t fathom what Kelsey is describing. But I have hope, both for myself and other women who struggle. <3

    • Ashley says...

      Thanks for the podcast recommendation and yes, yes, yes to everything else you said here.

  8. Beck says...

    There’s just something about this essay that doesn’t sit right with me. I feel like the author still believes thin = health or that thin is ultimately the goal. When dieting didn’t work to make her thin, she found intuitive eating. Not that intuitive eating is the route to get thin, but that the route to thinness was just too exhausting, so she’s giving up on the idea of being thin. And it doesn’t seem like any of the other commenters have a problem with this, maybe because so many of us are still indoctrinated with the above, that thin is healthy and ideal.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you for your note! oh i actually thought her take was really different. realizing that she wanted to move toward body acceptance (no matter what her weight is) and enjoying her life, versus watching and counting every bite she ate.

  9. Kelly says...

    I LOVE this! I have incorporated intuitive eating slowly over the past 5 years or so. I can’t say I’m 100% “there” yet. My current approach probably looks something more like intuitive eating + “everything in moderation.” I try every day to listen to my body, cravings, and hunger/fullness cues, but I also sometimes remind myself to eat more vegetables/fruits and exercise. I still get hung up on how I look occasionally and worry about gaining weight, but when that happens I try to redirect my thoughts toward how my body feels and what it can do. It’s a daily practice, that’s for sure, but I feel LIGHTYEARS ahead of where I was in my early 20s, obsessively counting calories and avoiding “bad” foods.

  10. Kerry says...

    Bravo, Cup of Jo team, for dedicating a whole post to the importance of intuitive eating. 10 long years in recovery and still a daily struggle. When social media is riddled with “do this” and “stop that” in regards to food and bodies, finally a place that shamelessly states: “trust yourself.” Validation is an understatement. Much love, Kerry

    • Alexa says...

      I felt the same way reading this. Every word resonated. Thank you, Cup of Jo!

  11. I feel like this is how most Europeans (the rest of the world?) eats, and we’ve just forgotten how in this country.

  12. Annie says...

    This is such a great post! It resonates with me because the only book that has ever really and truly changed my life (and I read for a living!) is “Breaking Out of Food Jail” by Jean Antonello. I used to be obsessed with food and pretty overweight. I am now not obsessed with food at all and a perfectly normal weight. I do not think about calories ever and I eat what I want, though I do eat pretty healthily because that’s what makes me feel good. I do eat dessert every day and many times several times a day though!

    I cannot stand anyone talking about diets; it literally repulses me when people I know start going on about the diet they are now on, because I just know deep down it is not the solution to anyone’s problem. Diets ARE the problem. It’s bizarre because I used to spend literally every waking minute thinking about food. (And again, I mean literally; there was never a time when calories and my weight wasn’t on my mind.)

    I do like the book Intuitive Eating as well, but for some reason this one clicked with me better. Also read “Fat is a Feminist Issue” by Susie Orbach at the same time and found it complemented it well. (I’m not connected with either of these authors, though I did send Antonello some fan mail once but never heard back!) Thank you so much for this post!!!!

  13. Tina says...

    I love this gal – Kelsey! What spunk and wisdom, and courage to speak out and share it with others. I popped over to check out her week of outfits too. Love them! And as for breakfast cake? Go for it! Actually, my go-to morning splurge is cold pizza – helps sooth the occasional next-day hangover.

  14. Robyn says...

    Love this approach. I follow it to some degree except at most meals I eat a fruit or vegetable first sometimes both then I eat other foods.

  15. Hilde says...

    I discovered intuitive eating by myself after constant arguments with my food and body as a teenager. Now I’ve been an intuitive eater for about ten years and all this time, I’ve stayed slim (not model style skinny). Lots of walking and the occasional workout session have helped too.

    I just had a baby and intuitive eating did however not work that well while I was pregnant. My body wanted lots of chocolate and I was used to giving it whatever it wanted. So six months postpartum, I’ve still got around 8 kilos of babyfat left. I’ll might need a stricter diet to get rid of those…

    • Kate says...

      Congratulations on your sweet new one! Have you heard of Kylie Mitchell at immaeatthat.com or Robyn Nohling at https://www.thereallife-rd.com/. They both talk about pregnancy and postpartum with regards to Intuitive Eating.

    • Hilde says...

      Thankyou, Kate!

  16. Felt like I’d written this myself – I related to every word. Brilliant read! I found that once I started eating intuitively, the weight fell off without even trying! If only I’d known this years ago!

  17. I’m so so glad to see this post on Cup of Jo. Kelsey – thank you for your vulnerability! I’m an eating disorder-focused therapist and yoga teacher and will go to my grave on the principles of Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size. I love that more voices are being heard and more truths are being told about food + weight + health that free us up from unhelpful and unhealthy pressures. These ideas can be so life-changing for people! Glad to see Cup of Jo featuring content like this that encourages freedom, permission, and acceptance of all bodies.

    • Natalie says...

      So well put! And glad to hear so many providers like yourself are out there!

  18. Hi, love this article! I’m actually a Weight-loss Life coach originally from Europe and love the Parisian approach…find pleasure in your eating by reconnecting to your body. Allowing yourself to be hungry and eating when we are brings us back to our own guidance. Diets are a blanket approach that don’t take into consideration in dealing with why we choose to overeat or eat when we are not hungry.
    The other part is that our culture here is all about the fast and furious eating while multitasking. We are constantly distracted and it’s when we slow down and enjoy our food, we are more able to recognize if we are hungry and stop when we are pleasently full.

    I love hearing the comments on feeding children. I read “Bringing up Bebe”. I like the idea of placing different foods in front of my 19 month old but I don’t force her if she’s not interested. I never say “one more bite for mommy”. Kids are the best intuitive eaters and do enjoy sweets.
    I also want to teach my daughter to feel neutral towards food not labeling it with moral characteristics of “bad” or “sinful” or “good” but more about giving her quality ingredient foods that allow her to really enjoy it.
    When it comes to dessert, I share with clients that when it comes to our children, we don’t need to deprive them but dessert could be offered say 2x a week and then if they made room for it and don’t want to finish their veggies but want more of the cookie, then they can have it but it’s not an everyday event…fruits and yogurt is a different story.

  19. This is fascinating! I kind of hate to admit it, but I used to think “intuitive eating” was just a euphemism for giving up on yourself, but now I see it’s a lot more than that. Certainly worth pondering more …

  20. KP says...

    I took me about 3+ years to really, truly eat this way—I got hung up when I found out I was gluten-intolerant—but not giving up (a.k.a going back to dieting or being *crazy* about working out) was so worth it. One day I woke up and it was like the dieting-chains broke off me. I haven’t looked back in nearly 3 years. Don’t let weight gain or impatience deter you! The freedom to think about other things and *feel good* about your relationship with food is worth every setback or struggle on this journey.

  21. Kate says...

    A simpler way of saying this is eat what you need, when you need. Another commenter mentioned eating off a plate with their newborn, and if you need to have a plate to feel good, that’s amazing. With a four month old, I’m lucky sometimes to be able to get a few bites in, but for me temperature is important. So, I’ve been known to wedge her bottle between my cheek and her mouth to hold in place while I down something that must be eaten hot.

    • NN says...

      meeee toooooo

  22. Mary Beth says...

    I am living my perfect retirement: Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired.

    • Sherry McLaughlin says...

      Oh, that is me also……..just had some pasta with peas and butter at 3am, will sleep when the eyes tell me to……..

  23. Sarah says...

    LOVE this post! I am 100% a believer in intuitive eating and love seeing others who share this same passion. Intuitive eating is a huge part of the reason I was able to recover my eating disorders. During that dark period in my life I could not even imagine what “normal eating” or normal living could be like, and now on the other side, it feels like I escaped from an awful prison. FREEDOM! One of the greatest blessings in my life.

    • Kate says...

      Me too! To all of it! I just became an Intuitive Eating counselor and was so thrilled to see this post! I want to shout from the rooftops that there is another (in fact healthier) way to live!

  24. Twyla says...

    I was raised by a mother that was constantly dieting (still is) and at a young age it was something that I intuitively rejected. I’ve always eaten everything in moderation – never denying myself any one food group, even though I’m usually the only woman at any event/gathering doing so. In our society, it’s sort of assumed (and often applauded) that women should deny themselves food. I work with a large group of women, many of whom are very thin, and I see them day after day preparing their canned tuna, cucumber and celery lunches, and it makes me so sad for them. Kelsey put into words something I’ve felt all along. Thank you!!

    • NM says...

      But maybe canned tuna, cucumber and celery lunches is just what fuels them, fills them and makes them feel good? Live and let live!

    • Erica says...

      “It’s sort of assumed (and often applauded) that women should deny themselves food.”
      You are so right! And what a horrible, perfect example of how society is set up to punish women. Even for the simple act of nourishing our bodies.

    • Caitlin says...

      Yes yes yes to this. I used to work on a team with 7 other women and one year as a fun activity at the beginning of a meeting we were all asked to say our New Year’s resolutions. I was literally the only one who didn’t have a resolution related to weight loss. I wanted to scream you can have other goals! It’s okay to admit you like yourself as you are! Women aren’t just what they eat!

  25. Ashley says...

    Thank you for this post! As a former binge and purge disordered eater, it took me a long time to come to terms with “everything in moderation,” and I really like this concept of intuitive eating. Thank you for bringing this concept to my attention.

  26. This is beautiful and perfect, and wonderful. Thank you for this gorgeous piece of writing.

    I wish we could all acknowledge the broken nature of diet culture, and accept our bodies and nourish them to be powerful and whole.

    • Aneta says...

      YES!

  27. Jordan says...

    As a therapist who works with client’s with eating disorders and disordered eating, I’m so happy to see intuitive eating discussed. It is so hard to overcome the normalized “diet mentality” that is so ingrained in our culture and I am hopeful that these discussions can help. AND, I’m also pulled to point out that eating intuitively is a privilege. When people don’t have access to a variety of food options, can’t afford different options, or don’t know where their next meal will come from on a regular basis, this approach is a challenge. These are larger problems and do not in any way negate the importance of intuitive eating, however, I find it hard to talk about one without acknowledging the other.

    • Hannah G. says...

      Jordan, I’m curious if our ideas of having a variety of food options are limited by what we think “good” food options are? For example, fresh veggies vs. canned. Canned vegetables are affordable and shelf stable, a good option for people who can’t afford the cost of fresh veggies, either the monetary cost or the time they take to prepare. But our general health-food culture says, “fresh good, canned bad.” That attitude limits the variety available, because the more approachable option is now not worth it or “good for you.”
      We’ve attached discouraging moral labels to food choices, instead of encouraging and educating people to do the best they can with their resources. I’m 100% with you that the ideal of healthy eating is a privilege, and that a larger concern for people often is whether or not they’ll be able to put food on the table at all. But I would love to see a shift in our attitudes and ideas of what healthy eating can be.

  28. Emily says...

    So love this post and approach…to life!

    Something I always admired from my cousin (who is healthy, happy, and moderate size): pick out the “perfect” bite when you’re almost full and finish on that. A little bit of everything or only your favorite bit, whatever wraps up the dish best for you!

  29. Thank you, Kelsey. This touched a tender part of my own story and reminded me to renew my commitment to being gentle with myself. I’m proud of you!

  30. Elise says...

    I recently started waiting to eat until I’m actually hungry. I know it’s not what you’re describing, but after years of eating with reckless abandon whatever I wanted, in the quantities my taste-buds wanted, even to the point of feeling kind of sick and definitely uncomfortable, it’s been helping me feel better about eating and listen more to what my body needs.

    Don’t worry, I still eat plenty, I’ve been blessed with a very healthy appetite that forces me to eat a full three meals a day! This just seems like a more healthy and sustainable way for me to fight the weight creep that comes with age.

  31. MW says...

    As a woman who lost her mother to an ED at a young age, I can’t thank you enough for covering such an incredibly important topic. While I’m sad my mother never found peace in her relationship to food, I love reading here that intuitive eating has worked well for those struggling with disordered eating and that it is widely taught in treatment.

    For anyone reading here who may be struggling with disordered eating, free resources and assistance is available from NEDA: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

  32. Hannah says...

    I remember discussing intuitive eating in therapy years ago for my eating disorder. Yes, it did help. But what REALLY helped was dealing with past hurts and learning to love and accept myself again. It’s not always “about the food” but something deeper. So as much as I love intuitive eating I’m a big proponent for just loving and accepting yourself! You’ll probably find you eat and take care of yourself better anyway. I may not be as thin as I was 5 years ago but I’m definitely happier. Anyone else experience this?

  33. Amanda says...

    My mom is going to laugh when I tell her about this. When I would tell her I was craving sugar or something salty, she’d tell me to listen to my body, it was telling me it needs something.

  34. Brynn says...

    I read Cup of Jo almost daily, but I’ve never commented. But THIS deserves it. Best post on Cup of Jo, hands down. 🙌🏻 Thank you Kelsey. I’ve been preaching this for years. The world needs to hear this.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, brynn. i’ll make sure kelsey sees this. and so great to have you here. xoxoxo

  35. SuzieQ says...

    Medicine is subjective and patriarchial. The “must follow advice” diet of this decade will be disproven in ten years. Start by paying attention to what works for the women you know and love. It’s the same for child birth, lactation, parenting strategies, and diets: Ignore what experts say you should do and pay attention to what works for you.

    It’s a very small sample size, but every thin woman I know closely eats in the same way. Coffee for breakfast, tiny lunch, intuitive eating/ whatever they want for dinner. Tons of water/liquids throughout the day. Workout in some way most days.

    I followed conventional medical dieting advice for 20 years and was 20 pounds overweight but convinced I was doing things “right”. For the past year, I ditched the need to be a “good girl” by social standards and started following what I saw working for my mom, aunts, and friends. I no longer have crazy sugar cravings, no longer binge, no longer feel fatigued l the time and in the best shape of my adult life.

    This is reflective of a broader shift in my life: Now, I chose to invest my trust in the women of my tribe, not a male scientific community focused on citations, sales, and reputation. Try it on for size.

    • Meg says...

      Suzie, this is a slippery slope. This is exactly the argument that anti-vaxers use – “listen to your heart and your community, not to doctors, scientists, and experts.” The world is full of different opinions, experiences, choices etc and I encourage people to figure out what works for them, but don’t demonize science, expertise, and truth at it’s expense.

    • Caitlin Scott says...

      SuzieQ, rock on, girl! I think we have forgotten how to listen to ourselves when everyone around us claims to be experts in living! It’s wonderful to have a good relationship with the whisper in your head :)

    • Lisa says...

      Agree 100% with Meg. Medicine may be patriarchal, but not all physicians and medical providers are – in fact, the vast majority are not. And the art of medicine is, and should be, subjective, but the science most definitely is not. I am a physician and I practice evidence based medicine, at the same time encouraging my patients to investigate any complementary and/or alternative therapies that may be of interest (and potentially of help) to them. But science is science and fact is fact. It is especially devastating to see babies and children suffer and die as a result of people choosing to “ignore what experts say” (re childbirth, lactation, vaccinations) at the expense of fact and science. Any good physician or medical provider really does care – we’re not just pushing science and fact for kicks.

    • Alex says...

      Hello SuzieQ, I just wanted to say that I really don´t think it´s healthy to have just coffee for breakfast, look I´m really very slim, and I definitely have large breakfast every day – it´s none of my business but I strongly reccomend having proper breakfasts :)

  36. I found this incredibly interesting – thank you for sharing – so beautifully written too!

    Rebecca

  37. Nina says...

    So interesting. I’ve started Intermittent Fasting. 16 hours (or more) of fasting, 8 hours of eating for the past two months. I’ve lost quite a few inches but only 3 pounds. The biggest change is its made me stop and recognize when I’m eating because I’m stressed or upset or when I’m doing it because I’m really hungry. I’m enjoying this self-discovery.

  38. Emily says...

    I recommend Feeding Littles if you want to learn about how to raise your toddlers to eat using intuitive eating principles. I’ve found it to be a really helpful way to approach food with my little one. (Basically, providing them with a variety of foods and allowing them to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. No “just take one more bite.”)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love this, emily. i’m curious: what do you do about dessert? for example, sometimes anton will say he’s not hungry for dinner and eat just a bite of chicken or broccoli or whatever. and then he’ll still want dessert. do you say, “if you’re still hungry, you can have dinner before dessert?” i’d love to hear, that’s the one part i’m stuck on :) thank you!!

    • Kristin says...

      I also want to hear more about this! I’ve tried to follow this concept with my kids (I guess mostly inspired by some of the French parenting books which voiced similar ideas of not forcing any certain foods on your kids, just offering a variety and no big deal if they say no). The catch is my husband and I never have had a lot of sweets around, but my 4 year old is just finally lately figuring out about deserts and treats and doing exactly what Joanna is saying Anton does. I hear myself saying things like “eat 2 more bites of broccoli and 1 bite of chicken first” and not loving it. :(

    • Hannah G. says...

      I haven’t read this book, but one similar and really like the author’s (Ellyn Satter’s)approach to dessert: she recommends giving a single serving of dessert along with dinner to “neutralize” it. This way, we are training our kids that there’s not “good” or “bad” foods, there’s just food. She says not to comment on what they do or don’t eat, or how much, because that only sets up a battle of wills. I know if you are starting this when kids are older there is an adjustment period where they only go for that restricted food, but eventually they realize they have regular access to it and it’s less of a big deal. That’s my understanding of it anyway 😊

    • t says...

      Hannah, I had twins and I love Ellyn Satter’s approach and have consistently stuck with it but I want to let people know that it doesn’t always work. My son will only eat his small dessert, will eat a bowl of cereal at breakfast and will drink chocolate milk at lunch (the school provides lunch and chocolate milk is offered daily. on the weekends he just doesn’t really eat lunch!). the child won’t eat one other bite of food offered to him except the occasional bite of fruit. we don’t make a big deal, we present all kinds of foods, we eat dinner as a family and it all works wonderfully with his twin sister but he prefers to just get by on the sweets. hoping he grows out of it one day but I am worried his body is now addicted to sugar since that is all it ingests. He is super, super thin but not dangerously underweight. We have taken him to the doctor and he now is anemic. I think we are going to have to change strategies.

    • Tori says...

      Can we talk more about this? I grew up in a family that was pretty health conscious though not ridiculously so (wheat bread instead of white, lots of fresh produce, only had fast foods on roads trip, etc.) I feel this naturally inclined me towards healthy choices. I had to go through my own process in the teen/college years which ended up basically being intuitive eating after falling victim to diet pressures ( teen years can be rough, esp for girls and body image).

      Anyway, I’ve never experienced or seen a family put desert out with dinner and allow that to be eaten. I think that is giving the child too much control. We don’t let children choose whether they want to be educated, we send them to school. In the same way we don’t let a child choose all their food, we instruct them on how to care for their bodies with healthful eating. I don’t have a problem with telling my daughter (3) she has to have a few more bites of veggies or protein if she’d like dessert because in my mind she is getting fuller on healthier foods her body actually needs rather than a treat which is not necessary.

    • Hannah says...

      T, thank you for your comment! I just have the one right now and we are totally just giving this a shot and fully expecting that it will look different for each member that may join our family. And like so many people have said, one thing does not work for everyone. Good for you for seeking out something different for you son and doing what’s best for him, best of luck!

    • Hannah G. says...

      Hi Tori! Your growing-up experience sounds very similar to mine, I never even knew white bread with smuckers jam was a thing until a playdate :)

      I definitely agree with your thoughts on control. We try and ascribe to a division of responsibility when it comes to eating: I, as the parent, choose what type of food to put on the table and when we will have mealtime (and snack time), as well as practicing appropriate mealtime behavior. My daughter gets to choose what to eat on the table and how much of it. This way I’m controlling her food options, and within that selection she makes her choice. I try and always have at least one thing she likes as well as an appealing vegetable, but she is offered what the adults are eating and doesn’t get her own meal. We have dessert maybe once or twice a week with dinner? More often I will let her have a small treat for a late afternoon snack.
      The point of dessert with dinner is to keep sweets from being a moral issue: ie, you get this if you’re “good” and eat your broccoli. We as parents get to encourage healthy eating by consistently putting healthy choices on the table. And like T mentioned above, it will look different for every child and every family! I so appreciate hearing other opinions and experiences.

    • Natalie says...

      Just here to say I also love Elyn Satter’s approach! Such a wonderful way to teach there are no forbidden foods. When people view a certain food as forbidden, it causes more desire for that food. Paradoxically, the antidote to binge eating is not restriction but permission! A real or perceived restriction (including food insecurity) can cause “last Supper eating” ie eat the whole tray of brownies now because starting tomorrow I’m not eating a bite of sugar ever again. So in a way, having permission to eat any food also alllows you to say “not today” knowing if you feel like it tomorrow, it will still be available. Also- a resource that has helped me times a million is Christy Harrison’s podcast: “FoodPsych” which interviews all kinds of guests about intuitive eating, health at every size and rejecting diet culture. Thank you, Joanna for publishing such a thoughtful article on such an important topic!

    • Tori says...

      Hannah G. —Thank you! That makes sense to me.

      Natalie— I agree with this, as well. The idea of permission allows us to eat something when we really want it as opposed to it being our “last chance.” I’m sure this is why so many diets backfire.

      Thanks all for sharing, really like hearing about everyone’s experiences.

    • Emily says...

      T, I haven’t had to deal with such an extreme situation so far, but I really do recommend that you check out Feeding Littles! Sounds similar to Ellyn Satter but they have a lot of techniques for getting extremely limited eaters to try new foods, including sensory play and gradually changing a familiar food. (I know I sound evangelical about them, but I’ve really appreciated their approach.)

      To clarify, it’s not a book but an online course. They also post great tips on their social media.

  39. Abbe says...

    Love this! I struggled with bulimia throughout my teens and disordered eating/restricting/dieting throughout my early twenties. Those beasts definitely still rear their heads from time to time (I always describe myself as “recovering” as opposed to “recovered” from an eating disorder), taking a mindful approach to eating has really helped me. I started working out regularly for the first time a year ago, and that really helped me set in my mind that I’m “fueling” my body with food — not using food as an emotional crutch/reward/punishment, just as fuel! I love to cook and I love good food, so that fuel better be delicious, but it doesn’t need to be anything else. As long as it nourishes some part of my body (including my mind — looking at you, KitKats), then it’s fine.

  40. Sarah says...

    I have grown up with fairly intuitive eating, in large part from many different influences (nannying for several different families in the US, living with a French family abroad), but I just want to say a few things: Intuitive eating can ebb and flow. Most days, I can really pay attention to how my body feels. Other seasons of life, my depression and anxiety get in the way, and I restrict my eating as a means of control. My mom relied heavily on bodily intuition. Her response to every ache or pain was always “your body is telling you something”… to the point where she wouldn’t necessarily take ibuprofen for a headache. She taught me the joy of eating. And yet she (then, and still now) equates her size with happiness, and it makes me so sad. Intuitive eating makes me feel like I’m in sync with my body, like I’m helping it help me. But I think it’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily the beginning– working on self image, mental state, and so many other things lay the foundation for intuitive eating, too.

    • Erin says...

      These are great points. Depression, sleep deprivation, and stress hormones can all definitely get in the way of intuitive eating!

      One thing that I’ve found helpful on my own eating and mental health/mental functioning journey is the book Dirty Genes by Ben Lynch. It explains how certain methylation genes affect things like neurotransmitters and certain food cravings, and how to best support their proper functioning. You don’t have to have your genetic info to use the book- we all have some variant of these genes and can support them based on the symptoms we’re prone to.

      For example, I have the fast version of the COMT enzyme gene, which affects how we process dopamine, estrogen, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. I learned that my variant causes one to blow through dopamine, which can lead to feeling flat, unmotivated, and easily distracted (which often isn’t recognized as being a form of depression). I learned that chemicals in tea slow that variant down, and eating enough protein at breakfast provides the amino acids to make more dopamine. For me, this has translated to feeling so much more motivated and able to follow through with tasks, which then translates to being motivated enough to be able to tap into intuitive eating throughout the day instead of falling into an unmotivated stupor and just eating whatever feels like the least amount of work. It’s been life changing!

  41. I absolutely love this. I just wrote something similar regarding not loving my postpartum body, but I’m happy and that’s all that matters!

  42. This was AWESOME.

  43. Alex says...

    I started intuitive eating after dieting and binge eating pretty much since my senior year in high school. I have a mother, grandmother AND a grandfather who all have low self esteem, self-worth, and an eating disorder so I grew up thinking that if I didn’t weight 100 pounds, I wasn’t beautiful or worthy of love. One day about three years ago, after gaining another five pounds in a couple days of binge eating after starving myself for weeks, I decided THIS HAS TO STOP. I would rather never lose another pound again in my entire life than go through this constant cycle of gaining and losing, and NEVER feeling good enough about how I looked. I decided I would focus on being at a HEALTHY weight. As long as I wasn’t overweight, my focus was to accept myself and my body for what it is. My entire life I was always trying to be thinner than I was, however thin I was was never enough. Those days were over. I read a book called “Breaking Free from Emotional Eating” and starting journaling every day, but not about what I ate, about how I FELT. In a year I lost 20 pounds, without dieting, exercising like a crazy person, and the craziest part is, letting myself eat whatever I wanted really turned in to me eating less than I ever did before, because I completely stopped binge eating. And what is even better, now that I am not so obsessed with my weight, I can focus on other aspects of my self-worth. I feel free.

  44. Carey says...

    Thank you so much for this post. 10 years ago I went into treatment for anorexia, and essentially had to learn how to feed myself all over again. It was scary, daunting, and seemed impossible that I would ever be able to “trust” my body (more importantly, my mind) again. My hope is for anyone reading this and struggling with disordered eating and thinking, to know that it is possible. Through letting go of “control” and trusting your body to take care of itself, you get your life back. I’ve always thought of intuitive eating as a pendulum, some days you sway one direction, some days you sway the other. But having faith that overall you’ll balance out is what has given me the peace of mind to accept the process.

  45. Elizabeth says...

    Thank you for this post! As a mom of 2 who has been “dieting” all her life, and who has felt like she’s constantly failing (particularly after kid #2). This was the perfect thing I needed this morning. Thank you, thank you!

  46. Lia says...

    I heard about intuitive eating on this Dear Sugar Podcast. The thing that struck me most was about fullness cues. I had always paid attention to when I was hungry, but never learned to notice what it felt like to be satisfied, full, and then, often, too full and uncomfortable! Our cravings are intelligent. When denied nothing, we can learn to tune in to what our bodies are asking for.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/09/podcasts/listen-to-dear-sugars-trust-your-body-with-hilary-kinavey-dana-sturtevant.html

  47. Tricia says...

    Sometimes it feels like women control their food because everything else feels so outside of our control. I’m hoping this is changing.

  48. Katusha says...

    Another long time reader, first time commenter – from the bottom of my heart, thank you for this.

  49. glad this post came after the brownie recipe. I WILL MAKE AND EAT THAT SKILLET WITHOUT JUDGEMENT! seriously though, very inspiring and thought-provoking piece! bravo!

  50. Toni says...

    I love this post so so so much. Thank you for your voice, Kelsey.

    So many women have disordered eating (myself included) and stories like this are important to share. Most of my female friends have at one point suffered from a “bad diet” (cabbage soup, juicing, or the dreaded fasts) or disordered eating. Sometimes it’s difficult to see that there is another way to do this. Another way to eat and live without food constantly on the brain.

    One thing I’ve learned through my journey with intuitive eating: it’s more important to listen to your stomach than your head! Because my head is like Regina George and if I see a healthy yet unappealing snack that’s 100 calories with zero carbs, I’m likely to derail my day and binge on cheese fries that I don’t even want!

  51. Marie Lamensch says...

    I have an eating disorder, anorexia. It’s not due to me trying to have a diet or something, it’s the result of something else. But the first thing you learn at the Eating Disorder clinic is that diets are useless and harmful.They don’t work and encourage restriction, which can lead to eating disorders. The aim is eat normally, according to hunger and bodily needs. My body would scream hunger and I would fight it so much, leading me to starve and get really sick. I am slowly re-learning how to it normally and to listen to my needs

    • Libbie says...

      Hugs to you Marie. You’ve got this. <3

    • Toni says...

      Sending healing vibes your way Marie. You are strong and you’re not alone.

    • Marie says...

      Thank you for your messages of support Linnie and Tom

  52. Liz says...

    Love this concept — my take is doing this most of the time, except incorporating seasonal (Ayurveda) cleanses to get a fresh start every season to try to rid my body of the toxins/unhealthy cravings I’ve built up over the past few months while trying to not to think too hard about what I’m eating. Doing this really helps me understand which foods make me feel good and which don’t (which is hard to tell when you’re eating all of the things), which I think further helps my intuition be more discerning. Regardless, I am 100% for guilt free, punishment free eating. Live your life! And that, of course, means to enjoy it! Also a big believer that when you try to restrict yourself from foods – it makes it so hard to not obsess over it/want it more, which can be so counter productive

  53. Jenna says...

    I grew up watching my mom yo-yo diet, her weight fluctuating and her agonizing over her portions or cooking herself separate meals. Even on Christmas morning, we would have cinnamon rolls, eggs, sausage, the whole thing… and she would eat a boiled egg and dry toast. It makes me profoundly sad for her and for the relationship I have formed with food as a result of this (and many other influences – friends, media, depression, etc.). I was introduced to intuitive eating a few months ago, and nothing has seemed more common sense with regards to eating. Now my focus is trying to eat foods that make me feel physically and mentally good after I’ve eaten them – not bloated, not exhausted, not shaky or hyper, no brain fog. This article really resonates with me and I feel like it should be mandatory reading for most women.

    Thank you Kelsey for your brilliance, and thank you Cup of Jo team for always featuring such thought-provoking and relevant content.

    • Blythe says...

      Hi Jenna! Sounds like our moms were very similar. My relationship with food was also totally wack from watching my mom (and grew into an eating disorder) but intuitive eating (+ therapy) truly changed my life. All this is to say keep on keeping on! Also I’d highly recommend checking out Kelsey’s 1st book – Big Girl: How I Gave Up Dieting and Got a Life. I read it early on in my recovery journey and it was really helpful.

  54. Angela says...

    Long time reader, first time commenter.
    Yes, yes, yes. To all of this. Thank you…

  55. Elise says...

    I thought I just ate this way because it feels right to me. I did not know it is a thing. I think it grew out of my parents never making a BIG deal about food. If you didn’t like it, you didn’t have to eat. No food drama. Now I am 74, eat what I want, when I want. I weigh a little more than when I graduated from high school. Also, I do not associate food and guilt. Darn I sure love a triple chocolate cake. However, I do not eat if I do not feel hungry. It seems to all balance out. Thank you for shining a light on this way of eating. And, Bon Apetite to all!

    • I second the importance of not associating food with guilt!! I love Trader Joe’s, but they have a line of branded “guilt free” snacks and I HATE that marketing tactic. Food never makes me feel guilty. Period. Cut the guilt and see how that changes things for you!! (And if you’re thinking: “how do I cut the guilt?” I literally envision guilt (almost any time I feel it) like a leaf that’s floating down a river, and I’m standing on the bridge looking at the leaf. And it floats under the bridge, and it’s gone. Xoxo)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “I literally envision guilt (almost any time I feel it) like a leaf that’s floating down a river, and I’m standing on the bridge looking at the leaf. And it floats under the bridge, and it’s gone” = LOVE this, joyce.

    • Glad it resonated, Joanna! I always feel slightly silly typing that because it’s so specific, and yet, it has helped me so much! I write a weekly email newsletter (it’s really just a letter, no news, haha) where I explore more things along this line: spirituality, emotional literacy, how to be, etc. Feel free to check out rejoyce letters if you’re interested :)

  56. katie says...

    This is one of the best pieces I’ve read. Truly! It should be a must read for everyone. In fact, I think I’ll print this out and give it to my nieces when I see them this weekend.

  57. Allison says...

    You couldn’t have shared this at a better time, right before the holiday season! Let us eat and be present, without the looming detoxes and resolutions to punish us come January. Thank you, Kelsey!

  58. Jordan says...

    YES!!!!!!!!! I started my intuitive eating journey about a year and half ago and i’ve never feel better, both physically and mentally. It has been the biggest gift I even could have given myself. Also, embracing Heath At Every Size has been a life changer. Thank you for helping make this more mainstream.

    • Jordan says...

      Also, “Hating your body will never get you as far as loving it will” is my daily reminder to be kinder to myself.

  59. Anne Elliot says...

    I feel conflicted about “not all women”ing such a positive thread, but I do feel it’s worth reiterating that no one WOE (way of eating) will work for everyone, that everyone has to find what works for them, and that if this doesn’t work for you, you’re not a failure, it just didn’t work. I spent much of my adult life between 240 and 260 lbs due to unrestrained consumption of simple carbs (sugar) coupled with a genetic predisposition to obesity. I simply do not have the ability to moderate my intake of simply carbs – a problem I firmly believe is biological, not a failure of will – and for me I know that consuming a piece of cake leads directly to consuming the entire cake, and no amount of intuition changes that. Either my intuition is to eat the whole cake, or my intuition is drowned out by the competing compulsion to EAT ALL THE THINGS, but the the result for me is the same and it is not healthy. So I know this would not work for me and I know it may not work for others and I just want to remind that THAT’S OKAY. But blessings on all who have found it a healthy and sustainable way forward for them, and now I’ll stop highjacking the discussion.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, for sure! everyone has a different body, mind, perspective, background, lifestyle, etc. and that’s wonderful. totally agree with you. this is just one way of doing things that works really well for kelsey and others. thank you for your note. xoxo

    • Ana says...

      Anne thanks for chiming in, I’m the same as you and was starting to feel bummed out reading all the comments about how this changed people’s lives but for me it just lead to months and months of extremely high sugar intake. I really believe that for me, sugar is like a drug I’ll probably never be able moderate. I am so happy that this works for the author and so many other commenters. I continue my quest for peace and balance!

    • kiki says...

      I’m with you. My sweet tooth would win out every time. And I have zero problem giving myself permission to eat. LOL. But, I have many friends with disordered eating and I love that this is an option. Definitely a message that needs to be heard!

    • Lisa Z says...

      I’m thinking you are eating intuitively when you KNOW for yourself that if you eat a little sugar, you will eat a lot of sugar and it won’t be good for your health or how you feel. That to me is using your intuition as wisely as you can. And for some of us, abstaining is indeed the better option (speaking as someone who does better abstaining too).

    • Nayla says...

      Thank you so much for saying this, Anne, I was starting to feel like I was the only one. For me it’s not one specific kind of food, but amounts. I love a huge variety of foods and love cooking/baking, so if I don’t conciously choose smaller amounts, I’ll eat all the things all the time without realizing I’m full. I let myself have what I want most of the time, while conciously choosing moderation. 1 scone, not 4. I love that intuitive eating works for some people, and I also love your reminder that it’s okay if it doesn’t work for me <3

    • Tanya says...

      I’ve been listening to a podcast around Intuitive Eating called “Food Psych” with Christine Harrington. She’s an intuitive eating counselor and a Health at Every Size (HAES) proponent. There are a number of episodes where binge-eating and the stigma around weight is discussed in a very positive and informative way. Just thought I’d mention it, because your comment reminded me of a number of her guest’s stories.

  60. Maria says...

    Wonderful! I just started learning about Intuitive Eating about 2 months ago. I had given up on diets when I realized that I did not gain weight until I started eating what other people told me I should be eating and that includes physicians. I have not lost weight but am much happier and obsessively exercing to the point of injury.

  61. I really loved this post it is so informative yet inspiring.

    Eme xo

  62. Off topic, but I’m listening to I’ll Be There for You and loving it! It’s so comforting and nostalgic and makes me want to binge Friends on Netflix immediately. I’m going to be giving to a couple people for Xmas this year!

  63. Vicky says...

    After a lifetime of the dieting cycle and obsessing about my size, I am trying to sort this stuff out for myself. Thank you for the article and for being honest that it may not change your weight. So many intuitive eating stories end with a casual, “Oh, and in the process I’ve lost 90 pounds” or “Now I don’t even want to eat sugar.” Deprogramming my thinking about this stuff is the hardest thing.

  64. Laura says...

    Also changed my life. I discovered this through

    How to Have Your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too: Stop Binge Eating, Overeating and Dieting For Good Get the Naturally Thin Body You Crave From the Inside Out

    It is a continuous practice for me though, and I’m not sure that I am truly free yet.

  65. DMS says...

    I find it unspeakably sad (particularly as the parent of someone with an eating disorder) that Intuitive Eating is even a thing. All it means is not buying in to the nonsense rules and myths peddled by the diet industry, eating real food, listening to your body and knowing when you feel full. This is such a well written and heartfelt article, and Kelsey is saying and doing something of great value. None the less, it’s heartbreaking that this way of eating has to be a conscious and difficult decision for so many and is no longer the norm.

  66. Vicki says...

    Yes! I love the – won’t you eat donuts all day? No one would do this and why is that not obvious?! I also notice that I also love eating veggies and sometimes amazing fried chicken (not the kind in the hot bar!)- but I think we uabe a whole culture of “food porn” where unhealthy and sometimes unyummy things (rainbow is not a flavor!) are presented as the thing we all want ( along side the thin people). We need a wake up, health without the all the restrictions or all of the aspirational goop.

    • Anne Elliot says...

      Except that I absolutely would do this. I would, in fact, eat donuts all day until I was sick. And then the next day I would eat however many donuts were again available. That is how my body works (unfortunately). How I deal with the donut issue (and it is an issue for people like me who cannot moderate their sugar intake) is to have a rule never to eat donuts at work, because that’s where 90% of the donuts in my life appear. I have lots of rules like that: desserts on specific days only (holidays, my birthday); or if on vacation but no more than one per day; no sugar in my house; etc. None of this is intuitive for me. Again, just reminding that different people experience food in widely different ways and it is as inaccurate to say that every single person would be healthy if they just ate mindfully as it is to say that every single person would be healthy if they only ate kale.

  67. Nina says...

    Yes to all of this!

  68. Breanna says...

    LOVE. THIS. Incredibly well said, Kelsey. I’ll be pointing others to this post! Intuitive eating has changed my life (not fixed my life, as Kelsey so wisely clarified, but changed it immensely for the better). I am now so much more free to live and enjoy (and be holistically healthier!) rather than just try to control in this area. As another commenter said, thank you, COJ, for consistently skipping the diet chatter, celebrating good food, and pointing to a sane, healthy perspective in this area! Love this. If anyone’s interested in learning more about intuitive eating, some resources that have really helped me have been the Real Life RD blog as well as ImmaEATthat’s blog.

  69. Nina says...

    I’ve had very good results with mindful eating (I did a workbook), which is similar to intuitive eating.
    Three big wins:
    1) Noticed I had the urge to eat even though not hungry when dehydrated (esp. caffeine and artificial sweeteners)
    2) Ditto if not enough minerals (esp. Magnesium)
    3) Eating a generous portion of complex carbs (rather than a smaller one) for breakfast significantly reduces cravings for sweets later in the day.
    Bottom line: My weight has gone down a bit. It’s also a big bonus to be out and about and not be tempted by all the food out there.
    That being said, I still see an increase in “real” hunger every year in the fall, which my doctor says is normal, and I try to accept that.

  70. FA says...

    I cannot agree more! Stopped dieting since 2007 and I haven’t felt better. Learn to listen to your body and kick out all those who promise you a better land through their new diet plan.

  71. Lauren says...

    Such a cool post! I didn’t know there was a name for this, haha. I felt at war with my body for most of my adult life — moments of awareness of what my body needed (pre-period: ‘steak STAT!!!!’; must have green things NOW!!!!; etc.), and then that yucky, stuffed feeling after overindulging in a sugar craving. I moved to Kigali a year ago for work, and something about the disruption I guess heightened my intuition(?). My body changed and I felt better — for no discernable dietary reason other than my relationship to food changed. Weird (and cool!).

  72. Robin says...

    I’m about three-months pregnant and have been hungry nearly all the time. But oddly, I haven’t needed to eat anything sweet or dessert-y at all. It seems what we think we want to eat when we can eat anything and what we REALLY want to eat are two different things. I found that if I ate ice-cream, the nausea and the hunger came back twice as angry. But if I ate an egg, oatmeal or rice (baby really likes rice with dishes) my body and I both felt satisfied.

  73. So good! This post is so positive and uplifting and I think that’s what a lot of people – myself included – need in this diet culture. We can eat what we want – whenever we want – and shouldn’t have to feel any guilt simply because we wanted a piece of cake or some pizza every now and again. It is insane to think about what society has done to us! This was also a very timely reminder for myself. To be kinder to myself, and my body will repay in kind.
    So, thank you.

    xo, Victoria

  74. Julia says...

    I am a slim person and for the last 20 yrs, my weight didn’t change much. I have total faith in my intuition. When I was pregnant, my body would long for nutrient packed meals with meat and a lot of flavor. After long hikes, I crave for hot chocolate, banana milk shake and the like. Since I don’t eat much sugar, my body doesn’t ask for much either. I think that if you stop to follow your intuition, the problem only begins. But, I admit that you need faith in relying on your inner voice instead of all the extern advices!

  75. Kate says...

    This is awesome. I had a heart procedure a few years ago, and was absolutely wiped out afterwards. In the first few days afterwards, my appetite was so powerful — I wouldn’t even know I was hungry, but I devoured a number of healthy, hearty meals in what felt like seconds. And even tiptoed around the house in the middle of the night for treats! Even though I felt awful — my morale was so low — it was amazing that I could trust my body to come roaring back like that.

  76. Owl says...

    This basically sounds like the choice I made at 20 years of age. It wasn’t a diet, just a decision that encompassed what you are describing. I was sick and tired of obsessing about weight and food. I was thin, by the way. Anyhow,at first I did put on some weight. But eventually I wound up in what has become “my normal weight “ . 26 years later now, and I’ve never looked back. I eat what I want and enjoy life. I am slim, fit and moderately athletic and love healthy foods, but also indulge in treats when I want. It’s about enjoying life and being grateful for the food we have. I recommend this approach to anyone. :)

  77. Kerri says...

    My sister introduced me to intuitive eating and it’s majorly helped me with my three young children. Dinnertime is no longer a struggle, there is no praise for finishing an entire plate of veggies and there’s no shame in asking for seconds or thirds of carbs. If they are satisfied after 5 bites of food or after 5 platefuls and they ask to be excused we just say “good job listening to your body!” It’s also helped me realize that my kids are incredibly different eaters and that’s ok! One barely eats breakfast but enjoys snacks and humongous dinners. Another wants three breakfasts and barely any dinner. It’s just another step to respecting them as the individual human beings they are ☺️

  78. Clara says...

    I love love love love love this.

  79. Kerry says...

    This is exactly how my kids eat. They just eat until they’re full and eat what they want. It’s just built in to them. This is how I’ve been eating and kind of beating myself up about it, but not too much because I just feel good about it. I don’t obsess about it. And when I eat what I want, then I don’t go nuts. I’m about 10-15lbs more than i ‘want’ to be, but I just don’t care enough to diet, you know? I really liked this post. Thank you

  80. Carly says...

    She’s glowing!😊 ❤️

  81. Lizzie says...

    This is incredible

  82. Elizabeth says...

    100% YES!!! you’re beautiful, full of light and there is no reason food should be a punishment. xo

  83. Elizabeth says...

    Diet culture is so violent to women and also so deceitful because it is under the guise that it will leave us healthier and happier. Instead it teaches us to be afraid of our appetites, that our bodies cannot be trusted, and then creates an endless cycle of guilt, hating our bodies, moralizing our cravings, and shaming ourselves for not adhering to its eating plan.

    I also had a similar relationship to food like Kelsey all throughout my twenties and one day after spending several engrossed hours feeling guilty over eating one of my “bad” foods, I realized how exhausted I was from this diet cycle. I finally understood that I could not hope to deepen the relationship with myself if I could not make peace with food. Preoccupation with dieting is so stunting and by giving myself permission to eat wholeheartedly I was allowing myself to blossom in all the ways it couldn’t when hungry.

  84. M says...

    https://www.thereallife-rd.com
    This Real-Life RD is an amazing blog and resource and is where I discovered intuitive eating!! Definitely worth checking out :)

    • Hilary says...

      Yes I love Real Life RD! Imma Eat That is also a great blog to follow on social media as well.

      Also at their recommendations I unfollowed any blogger on insta/fb that was promoting healthy eating under the guise of a diet. Now I just follow a lot of intuitive eating professionals and I love having such a healthy and supportive social media group to follow!

    • cate says...

      Yes! Would love to see Robyn featured here. She’s what started me on this path.

  85. A. says...

    Thank you so so much for this post! I just ate chocolate ice cream and lots and lots of chocolate chips because I had a huge craving. I was just starting to feel guilty when I opened up Cup of Jo and saw this post! I don’t feel guilty anymore:). I think it really is so important to listen to your body especially in a world that tells women that they are not good enough if they are not a certain size or on a diet to get to that ideal size. I believe we are all daughters of God and our beauty is more than skin deep.

  86. Kristen says...

    Intuitive eating also changed my life. From being anorexic for five years to 10 more years of the binge-restrict cycle, I finally took a leap of faith and tried to earn my body’s trust back. After several months of cake for breakfast, I heard my body’s voice for the first time since childhood. The last 15 years of intuitive eating have been liberating and allowed for healing that I never imagined possible. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Kate says...

      That’s so awesome. Congrats and well done!

  87. Bec says...

    I read this, loved it. But then I went and logged the calories from my lunch in an app (317). I feel like this will never be my life and that’s devastating.

    • Elena says...

      We are doing the best we can. Xoxo

    • Patricia says...

      Oh Bec, you can do it. Just because something is simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Wishing you lots of health and happiness. xo

  88. ohhhhh I have so many happy thoughts seeing Kelsey’s name here. I read her book when it came out a few years ago and it literally changed my life. I’ve recommended it to so many friends. It’s taken years of practice (which, btw, is also one of the major realizations of my 20’s… every single day is just a new chance to practice at basically everything) Intuitive Eating but I’ve really settled into it in the last year or so.

    After my lightbulb moment of realizing that diets were a battle I was never going to win, the most fascinating was when I talk to my friends about my new discovery. I’d try and explain Intuitive Eating by saying “Yeah – and you just listen to your body for what it needs. Whether it’s cookies or lettuce, you get to enjoy what you eat and feel no guilt about it! Our bodies are smart enough to guide us! Isn’t that cool!?” and then they respond with “Yes! Everything in moderation! Exactly!” and I’ll say “Well… sort of… but…” and it hits me again and again just how brainwashed we’ve all been by this damaging messaging behind diets and health. Friends who’s relationship with food I’ve envied for years and who’s skinniest bodies I confused with healthiest have started to breakdown for me. Of course I think all of my friends are totally beautiful, but their consumption with what they eat and how much of it they’re eating is evidence of the control the traditional definition of “healthy” has over their lives.

    • Heather D. says...

      Thanks for sharing, Julia! This is exactly what I needed today – and it’s so true. Thank you for articulating it that way. :)

      It’s taken years of practice (which, btw, is also one of the major realizations of my 20’s… every single day is just a new chance to practice at basically everything)

  89. Sarah says...

    YESSSSS. I can’t believe no one’s mentioned the podcast Food Psych! It’s hosted by Christy Harrison, an intuitive eating and Health at Every Size dietician. She’s also a genius. If this topic is at all interesting to you, please do yourself a favor and pop an episode on.

    My hope is that our daughters will look back at this time in history and be like, “Isn’t it so weird that people used to micro-manage what they ate to try to change their body size? What a drag!”

    • Laura says...

      Thanks for the recommendation Sarah! I’ve been looking for more ‘positive’ podcasts lately and this looks like it will be a good listen.

  90. I love this so much! I started practicing intuitive eating specifically around my period and it helped so much! I realized that I am not an out of control sugar fiend, and my body WANTS and CRAVES nutrient-rich food. Just listen to it.

  91. Standing on my chair and applauding! I loved this SO MUCH.

  92. Patricia Perez says...

    WOW! One of my favorite posts on Cup of Jo. I feel so overwhelmed with emotions I don’t know what to write other than–Thank you! This is what I needed. This is the permission I needed. I’m inspired and in awe. Thank you.

  93. Emily says...

    Intuitive eating changed my life and rescued me from anorexia. I still think back with joy when I discovered it and first started out having dessert for lunch!

    I’ve thought about re-reading the book, but now I’m pregnant and essentially intuitive ratings because I’m so hungry I don’t have time to overthink, and my cravings are strong. And I was just commenting to my husband that I feel so much better and am not wasting mental energy overthinking food.

    I’ve always wondered why this book isn’t more popular!

    • Chiara says...

      One of the most helpful things I ever read about cravings/intuitive eating and pregnancy was a part of one of Ina May Gaskin’s books where she suggests that none of the women on their commune (The Farm) ever had preeclampsia because the women used as much salt as they felt like using as part of their home grown diet. It’s really helped me realize that my cravings and tastes change because my body needs different things than it does when I’m not pregnant and the way for me to stay healthy when I’m pregnant is to listen to my cravings and hunger cues. If I need more salt on my supper, it’s because my body needs the sodium and if I want banana muffins, it’s probably got to do with something in the bananas (hey potassium).

      And honestly, eating this way while pregnant has also changed how I listen to my body when I’m not pregnant, too!

    • Hil says...

      Congrats! Pregnancy essentially taught me about intuitive eating. I initially feared my cravings, especially when it was something that I had formerly restricted (chocolate pretzels, specifically). I thought I couldn’t control myself so I only let myself have them sparingly. I started eating chocolate pretzels every day due to cravings and realized I was perfectly in control, stopped when full, and didn’t feel the need to eat a ton because I knew I could just have more later if I wanted some. So simple yet it seemed so hard! Now I’m comfortable keeping foods like that in the house because it’s not an all or nothing mentality!

  94. Kat Rosa says...

    Thank you for this! So important!

  95. Natalia says...

    YES!! Thank you for shining light on this approach. Well done, Kelsey and COJ team :)

  96. heather says...

    Love this post! I’ve been tiptoeing around this for awhile and this was just what i needed to read. Really appreciate it!

  97. Andi says...

    I LOVE this.

    We have a family nutritionist we see for our sensory kiddos, and this is exactly what she’s guiding us toward.

    But I honestly I never thought of applying it to myself. It just seems so…compassionate! And sane!

  98. Hillary says...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Kelsey did such a great job explaining what intuitive eating actually is, freedom. So many people package up intuitive eating as a way to lose weight (aka, a diet) when really it has nothing to do with weight. The purpose is to listen to your body and let your body settle where it wants to. Our set point is actually about a 20-pound range! Bodies change and shift, that is part of being human. With intuitive eating some people do lose weight, some people gain weight and some people stay the same. But again, the point is that it is not about the weight, it’s about nourishing your body, mind, and soul. If you look for an intuitive eating coach or counselor and they talk about intuitive eating and talk about using it to lose weight, run away! They will not get you to true food and body freedom. As someone who struggled with anorexia for 17 years (and still working really hard at being an intuitive eater) I wanted to say, thank you, to Cup of Jo for never featuring articles about dieting and ways to “fix” yourself. This is one place I can come that I know I will not be fed diets dressed up in wellness speak.

  99. Emily says...

    My mom has always advocated for ‘listening to your body,’ which is about the same as this as far as I can tell! I eat what I want, when I want it and try to listen to what I’m craving, whether or not I’m hungry, etc. Especially dealing with anxiety-related stomach troubles this is immensely helpful. Just a few mornings ago I decided to skip breakfast because I woke up after a huge dinner the night before feeling completely un-hungry and I didn’t notice not eating it, it helped me recalibrate. It helps when your stomach hurts, when you have the flu, in every day life.. such a great philosophy to live by!

  100. Gi says...

    It took me forever to work intuitive eating out for myself, it’s hard in this culture. I still sometimes dream (!) that I’ve binge eaten and I wake up feeling so guilty. It has been such a relief to feel hunger and fullness in its entirety.

  101. ashley says...

    I loved this post! I have tried to start doing this more and happened upon it accidentally. What happened first was that I decided to start exercising because I was feeling so lethargic and depressed (mostly because of work) and I thought this might help. I never ever maintained a fitness routine before, and would go through fits and bursts. I hated cardio and I hated the gym. I decided to try a bunch of different classes like boxing, things that I found more enjoyable. And while I try to go 2x a week, I do definitely still struggle with that and there are plenty of weeks where I dread going. But I tried to focus on just exercising for the sake of health, not weight loss.

    Anyway, I found that because I knew I was exercising regularly, it made me feel like I could eat the stuff I wanted to eat without feeling guilty. Over time, I realized that I was doing what you described – eating the foods my body craved, listening to what it wanted, balancing my pasta obsession with more veggies. Lately I’ve found that the justification part doesn’t feel necessary anymore (ie: I’m no longer like, I can eat this.. because I went/am going to the gym. I am like I can eat this because it’s what I want). It definitely feels freeing.

  102. Kate Shumaker says...

    I stopped thinking about the things I would do when I was thin… this hit home.
    Such a beautiful piece and I’m so thrilled to have read it.
    Thank you.

  103. Paige says...

    Came here to add that if you’re struggling with body image, the Instagram @beauty_redefined is awesome. It’s run by two twins (with PhDs) who have an awesome message about women being more than a body. Their posts help me remember that “my body is an instrument, not an ornament.”

    One of the things I love the most is they talk about the danger of every-body-type-is-beautiful thinking. Even though it’s a HUGE step in the right direction, we’re still focusing on our beauty and what we look like. We can do better than that!

    Cannot recommend enough. Check it out.

    • Anna says...

      I looked up beauty_redefined and found their blog. Thanks for the suggestion.

  104. Heather says...

    I sooooo needed this! I read the Intuitive Eating book, but I don’t personally know anyone who has transformed from a disordered eater into an intuitive one (mostly I know die-hard dieters), so I was skeptical about ever trusting myself in that way.

    Last week I told my internist about how I’d lost 18 pounds on WeightWatchers a year ago, and then gained it all back… plus. She responded, “Well, research shows that counting calories is what works.” I mean, maybe that works for some people? But I’ve been dieting since age 12, when my well-meaning mom bought us Slim-Fast. It’s not a case of ignorance about the mechanics and mathematics – it’s a much more nuanced problem. I’m happy to learn from your story that there are RDs “in the know” about intuitive eating – I’m going to find one!

    • Cait says...

      There are so many RDs in the know! I found mine through a combination of googling and recommendations for therapist friends. Here’s the clinician database: https://www.intuitiveeating.org/certified-counselors/. I have been in recovery for over a year from an ED and the only modality my team would use was Intuitive Eating. Its one of the only fully studied successful modalities for treating EDs and they have a TON of science and research to back it up. This has been one of the hardest and most liberating years of my life. I so hope you find a clinician who can work with you, I want all of us to feel this way. Good luck! May your journey be filled with allies :)

  105. Kristina says...

    I could have written this post. I had the same lifelong diet pattern (the midnight whole-30 before and after search is such a thing!) and the same body revelations post intuitive eating. The funny thing is my body didn’t change at all with intuitive eating. My weight stayed exactly the same. What changed was the constant battle against my body. It is incredibly liberating to finally fully embrace yourself and your body, lumps and bumps and all. And a huge portion of my mind’s real estate is now open to think about things that actually matter!

    • Yes, this is me, too! A couple of years ago, I heard Lindy West on This American Life, and she was talking about “coming out” as fat, accepting it, talking about it, ADMITTING it, and being okay about it. (TAL 589: Tell Me I’m Fat) I was knocked over by this idea. Admitting you’re fat, and not hiding behind the promise of “trying to do something about it.” I read Lindy’s book, Shrill. I started googling fat acceptance, body positivity, and Healthy at Every Size. I started following fat fashionistas and fat fitness inspiration on Instagram (Rosey Beeme, Kate Sturino, Jessamyn Stanley, and Fat Girls Hiking). I started buying clothes at stores like Torrid and Eloquii. I have always hated calorie counting and food journals, and I decided to never go there again. I stopped hating myself, and I started living. It was so liberating, and I’m happier and more active than I’ve ever been! (And I did not lose any weight either – I just stopped hating myself…)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i LOVED that episode of this american life. so, so good.

  106. Intuitive eating changed everything for me. I just got to a place where I couldn’t face yet another diet. I knew I needed a change and, through a google search, I found the most amazing therapist who helped me make my way to it.

    The one thing I really want to highlight here, though, is that it’s not just like ‘oh, no more dieting for me and I’m all better’. At an intellectual level, I totally understood why dieting didn’t work, but learning to eat intuitively was harder because for me because I needed to understand why I used food to handle my emotions. Food was a comfort to me through a really tough childhood and so I needed to literally rewire my brain to learn that I was safe, that I didn’t need to dull the pain of life with food anymore and that there were ways to handle my emotions without food. The process of learning to eat intuitively also caused me to have to revisit some intense childhood trauma and process it so that it didn’t have as much power and pain for me anymore.

    I don’t say this to discourage anyone from Intuitive Eating because it has honestly changed everything for me. I DON’T HATE MYSELF ANYMORE and that is so amazing. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I just remember trying to eat intuitively before working with my therapist and it led to lots of binges and panic until I could get to the root of things emotionally. I don’t want anyone to think it happens like magic, but when it does happen it is magic. You know?

    • Emma says...

      Hi Michelle – you have pretty much described my life and my thinking too. I am in the exact same boat as you, except I have yet to find the amazing therapist. Any chance you can recommend yours? Or a resource to find a great therapist who has experience in this? Gratefully.

    • Hi Emma – I’d be delighted to share my therapist with you. She is the in the Bay Area – do you happen to be around here? If not, she has a huge network of other IE specialists that she could refer you to. Do you want to email me at michelle dot diemer at gmail dot com and I’ll connect you??
      Michelle

  107. Lynn says...

    What a great topic. Paying attention to how I feel after eating has been huge for me. Sayonara heavy creamy pastas. Adios non-dairy creamer. Auf Wiedersehen fat-free yogurt. So long sugar candy. Luckily, things that were once so dear to me (like Twizzlers and other things with artificial coloring), have lost their appeal. Bad things WILL lose their appeal, trust. Kudos to all who try this and kudos times a millions for respecting your body.

  108. Lindsay says...

    Yep. Recently, I realized that no one diet is the end all, perfect way to eat. so I decided to look at my personal preferences like what food satisfies me, what I can’t live without, what are my favorite healthy foods,what don’t I like, as well as how many calories I personally need. They tell us eating less is better for our long term health so I wanted the lower range, also to gradually lose fat. I have finally found the perfect diet…. For ME. ;) I am losing weight at a perfect healthy rate and don’t feel like I’m sacrificing at all. Everyone is different so no one diet will be perfect for everyone. For me, too much starchy carbs gives me bad side effects if I eat them all day long But a little rye toast with my eggs works perfectly bc I am satisfied in so many ways. I choose foods I genuinely enjoy and are nutritious and make me feel great. But if I eat a couple cookies it’s not against any rules, there is no guiilt. It’s great.

  109. Calla says...

    It’s funny, I started reading this and thought “Isn’t that just called eating?” and then realized how easy it is to feel that way as someone who has never struggled with (significant) weight fluctuations or body/food shaming. Even so I often still feel the need to apologize to people for eating this way, for example when I admit that I eat some kind of dessert every single night. It’s really a shame that society has forced most of us into such a toxic relationship with food and our bodies that the idea of eating what you feel like and what your body needs is so revolutionary. I’m so happy that you were able to escape the diet cycle and enjoy eating well without shame!

    • Heather says...

      Yes!!! The judgments around food are deeply ingrained in our culture. Even some of the well-meaning commenters here refer to certain things as bad and good without realizing these are the kind of judgments that devil people with food issues.

  110. Emily says...

    Loved this article! I spent the summer trying to do better at listening to what my body wanted to eat and when – not just because it “was time to eat” but because I wanted to.
    Now I’m 7 weeks pregnant and intuitive eating all the time because I have to! With morning sickness and nausea the goal is just to eat whatever I can so that I can feel good. There have been some big shifts with this (aka no meal planning for me) but I’m also noticing that for my husband and I we are changing to purchasing groceries each day only as we use them, which is then reducing food waste from when we planned things but didn’t want to cook it yet and now the *insert item here* has gone bad. So yay intuitive eating!

  111. A Martin says...

    Aw this is wonderful!! I’ve learned that my excess weight is due to overeating. Corinne Crabtree’s podcast “how to lose 100 lbs Phit N Phat” has been a godsend and it is all about intuitive eating and addressing the mental BS. Ive lost 10 lbs so far that I’ll never gain back because I’m working mostly on the mental weight. On days that I lose control with eating, I have a starting point that is totally doable. Just focus on drinking 64 oz of water. Then focusing on sleeping 7-9 hrs..once Ive mastered that again, focus on the hunger scale she provides in her free course. It has been so empowering.

  112. I love this post. In my 20s I used to eat what I thought I ‘should’ and as a result was always sugar-crashing and hungry and eating far too much of things I didn’t really want. I was always somewhere between starving and nauseous. I’m so much happier now I just eat what feels right!

  113. Emily says...

    Another one to follow who helps people with this is Robyn at Real Life RD. She is an RD and an NP and specializes in intuitive eating and eating disorders. She writes on this topic frequently and talks a lot on IG stories about it.

  114. Marina says...

    So, so good! Kelsey, you are awesome and gorgeous!

    And I can’t wait to get your book.

    And now I can’t stop thinking about passion-fruit cake…

  115. Kate says...

    Kelsey! I’ve loved you on other sites and I’m so glad to see you writing about Intuitive Eating here!

  116. Hannah G. says...

    Great post! I read Ellyn Satter’s “Feeding a Healthy Family” this summer for ideas on feeding my daughter and LOVED the whole thing. Eating “healthy” these days feels a tad elitist and out-of-reach and very guilt-driven, especially for your average mama trying to feed herself and her kiddo well! Is that just me? But the practice of intuitive eating is so approachable and commonsense: pay attention to your body & don’t be afraid of food. I’ve already noticed it has removed a huge potential conflict from our home by approaching eating this way with our 2 yr. old.

    • emma says...

      I have always struggled with my weight and with some amount of disordered eating (starvation or binging). Being pregnant with a girl was the first time I made a conscious decision to just F it all and that sounds very similar to what this describes– listen to my body more, listen less to what society tells me what it should like like and how I should feel about it- focus on how it helps me do what I need to do (get around! grow a baby!). I didn’t want her to grow up with my same disordered thinking about food (and the bs I hear some of my friends say like it’s totally normal!) and had to make a very conscious decision to do this. W/ my now 3 yo I eat a balanced meal, offer it to her, and if she throws it all on the ground & demands cheerios now and again… well… we all need to get through the day. :)

  117. Emma says...

    YES to this! I can sooo so so relate. Isn’t it wild that once you stop trying so hard, the whole body/eating issue becomes so easy?

  118. Antonia says...

    YES to this! I’ve been working on this for years and it is really hard to stop the self-loathing, but it is so worth it working towards it.
    I really want to recommend the work of Geneen Roth on this topic, especially her book “Women, Food and God” – it is basically my bible and I want everyone to read it :-)

  119. Lauren says...

    I really needed to read this today. Thank you!

  120. Amanda says...

    YES YES YES. I grew up in a household that valued being thin far above many other qualities and my mother was always battling against her body type. Watching her struggles and dieting made me think my body was wrong, too (pear shaped, always had a BMI just shy of “healthy”). I’m only just now coming to love myself and treating my body AND mind correctly. I started a higher intensity workout earlier this year and gained 10 pounds. I freaked out…but my clothes still fit me–some of them better than before. I liked the way I looked and felt…I was healthier! The next step for me is to tackle my emotional eating. I’m going to get this book and follow the therapist one of the commenters here recommended on Instagram. Cheers to loving ourselves and living our lives to the fullest.

  121. Abbey says...

    I really appreciate the honesty about food – a topic I struggle with daily.

  122. Phoebe says...

    THIS IS EVERYTHING. Thank you for this post!

  123. Yas! I started Intuitive eating when I got into recovery from anorexia and bulimia 12+ years ago. Now I’m a counselor trynna help other women find peace with their bodies and relationships with food. I see Intuitive eating TRANSFORM lives! When I die, put that book in my grave with me y’all. Thanks for the shout out Jamie ♥️♥️

  124. Matty says...

    Thank you. I am six weeks postpartum and finally coming out of the fog. I am adopting an anything as long as it is on a plate approach to eating, you know, as opposed to scarfing things down out of plastic containers while standing in front of the fridge and not even tasting or enjoying it!

  125. Katrin says...

    Yes, love it! I basically started this (without knowing the term) when I was in my early twenties after having spent most of my teens counting calories and worrying about my shape. It was so liberating! I’ve basically been eating whatever I want to eat for 18+years and I can only recommend it and confirm everything Kelsey writes.

  126. Veronika says...

    ***message for Kelly re. “What has inspired you lately” ***
    Hi Kelly, we will meet on Thursday (tomorrow) at L’Osteria/Munich/Schwabing (Elisabethstr.) 7pm for our COJ-Readers “meet in real life” evening :) .. just typing this message here as you might not have had the time clicking trough over 600 (!) messages for to see our new location.
    Hope to see you, Veronika & Vaune

    • Antonia says...

      Hi Veronika and Vaune, is there a mailing list or whatsapp group I can join? I live in Munich and would love to connect with other CoJ readers :-)

    • Anna says...

      Such a great idea. I also live in Munich and would love to meet other CoJ readers! I already have plans tomorrow but would love to join next time, if possible.

    • Veronika says...

      That’s lovely! Antonia, see you tonight; Anna, you can mail me at dasisteineschoeneidee@gmail.com and I can create an oldfashioned ;) mailing-list for the time being. Obviously, everybody is welcome, should further COJ-Readers live in/near Munich/are on holiday here etc.. See you all tonight :) (Will book table under “Veronika”) V.

    • Antonia says...

      Bummer, I can’t tonight – I’m stuck at home with a mean cold :( But I’ll email you!

  127. Nicole says...

    Ohhh this came at a really perfect time where I just quit therapy due to lack of funds and I need to learn how to talk myself through my issues around food. I so appreciate this.

  128. Kate says...

    Yes! I refuse to be afraid of food. If I want pasta, I’m going to have pasta, dangit!

  129. Megan says...

    SLOW CLAP. Thank you so much for featuring this message (and Kelsey’s beautiful writing)! Intuitive eating has changed my life and approach to food dramatically and it feels so good to see it here.

  130. Jaime says...

    SO SO glad to see this essay today!! Intuitive eating has been LIFE CHANGING to me. HOT TIP for anyone interested to learn more: follow @mindfulcounseling on instagram. Tiffany Roe is a therapist and is all about intuitive eating. She is an amazing (free!) resource.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, jaime!

    • Heather says...

      When I read the headline of this essay, I immediately knew the comments would be a treasure trove! Thank you for sharing!

  131. asia says...

    Excellent!

  132. YES!!!! I love this. Thank you for this lovely piece, Kelsey. I’m an integrative women’s health doc and I am recommend intuitive eating to my patients every.single.day. There is so much diet/”healthy eating” advice out on the wild world of the internet, and while clinical nutrition can really turn things around for women with certain conditions like PCOS, autoimmune disease, etc., for most women the feelings of restriction that come with dieting and restricted eating patterns causes unnecessary stress and can make things worse! Thanks Cup of Jo for a great post and for spreading important, positive women’s health info!

  133. Julie says...

    Yes yes yes yes yes.

  134. Sasha L says...

    Kelsey, thank you for this! So well written and explained and thoughtful. I truly hope it helps many of us. I stumbled into intuitive eating decades ago, after anorexia, addiction, and a whole lot of other pain. It works. It really just works. And it’s so freeing. Every time I see a friend posting about her diet (and often pretending it’s not a diet), or go out with girlfriends and it’s nuts trying to keep up with who’s not eating what….I want to just say STOP. But I know how hard it is to get to that place of radically loving the person you are inside that body enough to just take care of her, and stop the punishing. So hard. To everyone out there struggling, hugs.

    For those wondering how intuitive eating affects weight, for me, it just doesn’t. I’ve weighed the same for decades, a healthy weight for me. And what it looks like on a daily basis? I eat the same oats for breakfast every day, leftovers for lunch, sometimes an afternoon snack of whatever, dinner is something yummy and vegetarian. Today I ate two chocolate chip PB cookies this morning, because it’s cold out and I needed something good to get me through waiting for election results. I’ve been eating leftover Halloween candy too, but by last night I’m actually tired of Snickers. My only real rule is I only eat what I like.

    • Katie Larissa says...

      Sasha, I gave myself the okay to eat as much of the Halloween candy I wanted – my very favorites, KitKats, specifically – and after 3 days, I was done. I put up all the rest to save for next year to hand out. It felt good to come to that place naturally and not forcing myself to.

    • Sasha L says...

      Katie, we had no kit Kats!! Dang it.

      I don’t usually buy candy at all (chocolate chips don’t count, right?) but my goodness, eating Halloween candy is such a treat. It feels good to feel the joy that having a real treat brings. I wish that for everyone.

  135. Mary says...

    I love a piece of cake for breakfast. Delish. Self love is where it’s at. That’s ultimately what Kelsey has learned to do – feed herself lovingly what she desires. Anything else is unhealthy. 💗

  136. amy says...

    this is a breath of fresh air. thank you Kelsey.

  137. Andrea says...

    Yes! Intuitive eating and therapy changed my life!

  138. Miriam says...

    I don’t know what to say, other than than that I love this post! So positive and uplifting ❤️