Mindful vs Intuitive Eating

Mindful vs Intuitive Eating
by Erika Zink, NBC-HWC


There are many opinions available about how you should eat to optimize your health. What many of these suggestions don’t consider is you are unique and how your body processes and utilizes food is going to vary from those around you. Knowing this, it could be said that taking the time to figure out what works well for you specifically is an important first step.

Two techniques that help you slow down and reconnect with your body’s responses to food are mindful eating and intuitive eating.  



Mindfulness is defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” Mindful eating is the process of incorporating these concepts into how you eat. The key is to reduce or eliminate distractions so that you can savor the experience and improve your behaviors around eating. 


The key principles that define mindful eating include: 

  • Deliberate, non-judgmental attention to the present meal
  • Consideration of both internal processes and external environments that influence how and what you eat
  • Awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations in relation to food 
  • Using your body’s hunger and satiety cues to influence when and how much to eat 



Intuitive Eating is “a self-care eating framework, which integrates instinct, emotion, and rational thought” that was developed by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. This weight-inclusive, evidence-based program guides people through 10 principles and is designed to create skills in how to begin listening to your body to honor your hunger cues and to reject the diet mentality. It is an approach that helps people create a new and healthy relationship with food that is not based on arbitrary rules.  


Central to the principles of intuitive eating are these key features: 

  • Unconditional permission to eat
  • Eating for physical not emotional reasons
  • Trusting internal signals of hunger and satiety 
  • Attention to how food feels in your body 



These two concepts are very similar. The key difference is mindful eating is a single skill that one can apply towards how they eat, and intuitive eating is a framework that incorporates several skills around eating and self-care.  


Both involve paying attention to and honoring your body’s signals around hunger and fullness, practicing a nonjudgmental approach towards your thoughts around food, and developing an inner wisdom associated with how food feels in your body.  


Intuitive eating takes it a bit further and incorporates the concept of rejecting the rules and mindsets associated with diet culture by challenging the rules that you and others have created around foods. It also teaches you to develop skills to help you find joy in movement and incorporating practices around gentle yet personalized nutrition. 


To learn more about either practice you can visit these websites: 



If you are someone who finds you often eat with distraction or have stopped paying attention to or enjoying your meals, creating a mindful eating practice may be a good place to start.  


If, instead, you have spent years jumping from one diet to another and find you have more rules around food than you don’t, learning to become an intuitive eater may be a more productive approach for you. 


Whichever path you choose, making those first steps can sometimes seem daunting. If you feel that you need more support as you begin to change your relationship with food, our health coach, Erika Zink, is trained in helping people to successfully make these types of behavioral changes, and she is also a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. To find out more about which path is right for you, schedule an Inquiry Call to talk more with Erika today. 




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