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Intuitive Eating
SagePlace:The Center for Well Beings
Tammie Fowles, LCSW, Ph.D
Lewiston, Maine
“When You wake up in the morning, Pooh,”
said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say
To Yourself?” “What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh.
“What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting
today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
“It’s the same thing,” he said.
-A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Diets Don’t Work Over the Long Term
Diets Can Disrupt Normal Eating
Dieting Can Cause Food and Weight
Obsessions and Lead to Disordered Eating
Binge Eating Disorder
Preoccupied with shape and body weight
Bingeing: Consuming an objectively large
quantity of food while feeling a loss of control
Declaring many foods as forbidden
Trying to go as long as possible without eating by
skipping meals, trying fad diets, etc.
Eating in secret; hiding food
Binge Eating Disorder Continued
Checking shape/weight by weighing daily,
pinching body fat, trying on skinny clothes
 Disrupted social life because you avoid
eating with others
 Feeling ashamed about your eating and
wanting to be more “in control”
 Feeling disgusted with your body
Reject the Diet Mentality
Diets Can Erode Self Esteem, Confidence and
Dieting Can Negatively Impact energy and
Dieting Can Put Your Life on Hold
“Losing weight isn't a dichotomy where
either you lose weight and you're
successful, or you don't and you're a
failure. Small losses can make a big
--Kelly D. Brownell
Yale Center for Eating and Weight
Eating Styles
Unconscious Eater
Chaotic Eater
Refuse-Not Eater / Waste-Not Eater
Emotional Eater
Careful Eater
Professional Dieter
Intuitive Eater
Honor Your Hunger
Don’t ignore natural hunger signs, honor
them by eating.
Keep your body fed with adequate energy
and carbs (the body’s primary and
preferred source of energy.)
Each time you eat, ask yourself , am I
hungry? What’s my hunger level?
The older you get, the tougher it gets to lose weight because
by then, your body and your fat are really good friends.
- Anonymous-
Food Journal
Type and quantity of food and liquid
Time of each eating episode
Emotional state directly before eating
Place where food was consumed
Food Journal Continued
Situation: Events that influenced eating
Type and duration of exercise each day
Each eating episode considered by
client to be a binge (these should be
underlined with a colored marker).
The best way to lose weight is to eat all you want
of everything you don’t like.”
Make Peace With Food
Deprivation Backlash
Last Supper Eating
Non Forbidden Food
Eventually Loses Its Power
Challenge the Food Police
Black or White Thinking
I can eat only foods with zero grams of fat!
Carbohydrates are “bad.” I’m never eating
bread, potatoes, tortillas, or pasta again!
I shouldn’t have eaten that cookie. Now, I’m off
my diet. I might as well eat the whole box and
start over again tomorrow!
I blew it and had a piece of cake for dessert. I feel
like such a loser! I can’t do anything
Catastrophic Thinking
I tried so hard this week, but I still didn’t lose a
pound. That's it! I give up. I'm never going to lose
I ate a whole bag of chips today. It’s hopeless!
I’m always going to be an overeater. I’ll be fat
and alone forever!
I can't believe I ate an extra serving of carbs at
dinner tonight. Now, I’m going to gain weight!
Pessimistic Thinking
All the food on campus is greasy and
All healthy foods taste terrible!
When I look in the mirror, all I can see is
my fat thighs!
I have no self-control!
Self-fulfilling Prophecy
If I get stressed out, I know I'll binge.
If I eat too much, I have to do something
to get rid of it.
If I eat one serving of ice cream, I know I
won't be able to stop.
When I go home for the holidays, I know
I'll eat everything in sight.
Should Statements
I need to eat only salad for lunch or else
I'll gain weight.
I should never eat fast food if I want to be
I must exercise every day or else I'll have
to really restrict my diet.
I shouldn't eat after 6:00 p.m. or else all
the calories will turn to fat.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
The Peace Pilgrim
Changing Your Mind
Listen to your thoughts.
I’ll never lose weight!
Decide if your thoughts help or hurt your
Re-word your negative thoughts to make
them into positive messages.
Challenging Negative Thinking
Cognitive Restructuring
Am I being rational?
Is is sensible or helpful to think that I’ll never
lose weight because I ate that piece of cake?
Learning Positive Self-talk
"I'm a good person, and I like the changes
I'm making."
"Sometimes I make mistakes, but I know how
to get back on track."
Feel Your Fullness
Eat Consciously
Pause in the Middle of a Meal and Check
in with your Body
Don’t Feel Obligated to Leave Food on
your Plate
Eat Without Distraction
Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Ask Yourself What You Really Want to Eat.
Savor Your Food
Eat When Gently Hungry Rather than Over
Eat in a Pleasant Environment
Check in and Stop When You’re Satisfied
Emotional Hunger is…
Sudden. One minute you're not even thinking
about food, the next minute you're starving. You
hunger goes from 0-80 within moments.
Your cravings are for one certain type of food,
such as pizza, ice cream, or chocolate. With
emotional eating, you feel that you need to eat
that particular food and that no substitute will do!
Emotional Hunger is…
"above the neck." An emotionally based
craving begins in the mouth and the mind.
Your mouth wants to taste the pizza,
chocolate, or ice cream.
Urgent. Emotional hunger urges you to eat
NOW! There is a desire to instantly ease
emotional discomfort with food.
Emotional Hunger is…
Paired with an upsetting emotion. Your husband
yelled at you. Your child is in trouble at school.
Emotional hunger occurs in conjunction with an
upsetting or distressing situation.
Often connected to automatic or absent-minded
eating. Emotional eating can feel as if someone
else's hand is scooping up the candy and putting it
into your mouth. You may not notice that you've
just eaten a whole bag of chocolate almond
Emotional Hunger…
Does not stop eating in response to fullness.
Feels guilty about eating. The paradox of
emotional overeating is that you eat to feel better,
and then end up angry or disapointed with
yourself. Next, you promise to atone ("I'll
exercise, skip a meal, etc.)
Physical Hunger is…
gradual. Your stomach rumbles. One hour
later, it growls. Physical hunger gives you
steadily progressive clues that it's time to
open to different foods. With physical
hunger, you may have food preferences,
but they are flexible. You are open to
alternate choices.
Physical Hunger is…
based in the stomach. Physical hunger is
recognizable by stomach sensations such as
gnawing, rumbling, emptiness, and even
pain in your stomach.
patient. Physical hunger would prefer that
you ate soon, but doesn't demand that you
eat immediately unless you have allowed
yourself to become over hungry.
Physical Hunger…
happens out of physical need. Physical hunger
occurs because it has been many hours since your
last meal. You may experience light-headedness
or low energy if overly hungry.
stops when full. Physical hunger originates from
a desire to fuel and nourish your body. As soon as
that intention is fulfilled, you stop eating.
From: Constant Craving: What Your Food Cravings Mean
and How You Can Overcome Them.” by Doreen Virtue
Childhood is that wonderful time of life
When all you have to do to lose weight
is to take a bath…
Emotional Eating Triggers
Boredom and Procrastination
Bribery and Reward
Frustration, Anger, Stress
Coping With Emotional Eating
Ask Yourself:
Am I biologically hungry?
What am I feeling?
What do I need?
How can I meet this need?
Research indicates that individuals who respond
to a negative situation with both positive thoughts
and constructive action are able to avoid emotionbased eating 85% of the time.
I Feel… Because…
I feel…
they expect me to visit too much
I can’t get home as much as I’d like to
They’ll think I’ve abandoned them
They’re going down hill so fast
They might need nursing home care soon
They don’t seem to appreciate me
They’ve ignored me for much of my life
My brother doesn’t take his turn visiting
From: “Life is Hard. Food is Easy.” Linda Spangle
Food Tracing
Memory and Feeling
Corn Chowder
Mom made it on snowy Saturday afternoons before
… we went sledding. I felt festive, excited, happy, anticipating fun.
Cheese Curls
My cousin and I pigged out on them
when she was pregnant. I felt older, more mature, connected
My grandmother made them each morning when we
went to visit. I felt loved, special, warm, safe, nurtured
From: “Life is Hard. Food is Easy.” Linda Spangle
Food and Needs
Simple Needs: Pleasure, fun, feeling better,
stress relief (corn chowder)
People Needs: Connecting, pleasing
others, attention, appreciation (cheese
Emotional Needs: Safety, love, reward,
comfort, avoiding painful feelings (donuts)
Gather Your Needs
What do I need?
How could I get it?
Limit house work
Make plans with friends at
………………………………least once per week
Be Centered
Establish some goals
Learn Mindfulness
Wild Geese
“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
Dream Work
Eating and Relationships
Who are the five people in your life you are
closest to?
How frequent is your contact with each of
What is your eating like before, during, and
after you see them?
Eating and Relationships Cont.
What are two expectations you have for each of
these people? When they are not met, what do
you do?
What roles do you tend to play in relationships
with others? Do certain roles that you play leave
you feeling "hungrier" than others?
What are the satisfying and unsatisfying aspects
of these relationships? How can you make your
relationships more satisfying?
Create a List of What you Love, and
Do at Least One Thing Each Day.
Soft, flowing, soothing music
Long, warm, scented baths
Bed with a cup of tea and a good book
Finishing a brisk walk along the river with a great
book on tape
Taking a nap with my puppy
A really good movie
Long, soulful heart to heart talks
“Enjoy life to the fullest. Remember all of those
women on the Titanic who waved off the desert cart.”
- Irma Bombeck -
Steps to Freedom From Emotional Eating
Love yourself
 Give up perfectionism
 Break out of the "Being-Nice" trap
 Find alternative means of coping
 Connect with self and others
 Use the mantra: “Is this what I really need?”
Use this mantra to get you through moments of
From: http://www.mental-health
Four Steps Before Eating
“Why do I want to eat right now?”
“Why this food?”
“Is this what I really need?”
Respect Your Body
Accept your genetic blue print
 You don’t have to like every part
of your body to respect it.
 Stop body bashing
 Your body deserves to be fed, treated with
dignity, dressed comfortably, etc.
 The Loving Heart Exercise (see
ht/feelings.htm for instructions)
From: Overcoming the Legacy of Overeating by Nancy
Kathryn Fuchs
According to Studies on Depression and
Exercise has proven to be a beneficial
antidepressant both immediately and over the
long term.
Although exercise significantly decreases
depression across all age categories, the older
people are, the greater the antidepressant effects
of exercise appear to be.
Exercise is an equally effective antidepressant for
both genders.
Depression and Exercise
Walking and jogging are the most frequent forms
of exercise that had been researched, but all
modes of exercise examined, anaerobic as well as
aerobic, were effective in lessening depression at
least to some degree.
The greater the length of the exercise program
and the larger the total number of exercise
sessions, the greater the decrease in depression
with exercise.
The most powerful antidepressant effect occurred
with the combination of exercise and
Exercise – Feel the Difference
Forget militant exercise
Shift your focus to how it feels to move your
body vs. burning calories
Don’t deprive yourself of needed nutritional
Focus on exercise as a way of taking care of
Include strength training
Make exercise a non-negotiable priority
Consider an exercise log
Honor Your Health
Eat a variety of foods per day including:
Fruits and vegetables
calcium source
8 glasses of water
Get enough sleep!!!!