Brief Summary of “Intuitive Eating” Book

June 3, 2023

Andrew Siegel MD   6/3/2023

I am intrigued and curious about the forces that drive us to eat and how what and how much we eat are such powerful determinants of our health and well-being.  I wrote a book on this topic in 2011: Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

Today’s entry is a summary of the principles of “Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach,” a non-diet approach to eating conceived by dietician Elyse Resch and nutritional therapist Evelyn Tribole, originally published in 1995 and now in its 4th edition.   Promiscuous Eating and the principles espoused in Intuitive Eating have much in common.

The intuitive eating philosophy is not about being on a diet nor about focusing on weight loss, but rather is allowing one’s intuition to be a guide to eating. 

in·tu·i·tion| ˌint(y)o͞oˈiSH(ə)n | noun 

The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning: we shall allow our intuition to guide us. • a thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning: your insights and intuitions as a native speaker are positively sought.

The principles of the intuitive eating philosophy are paraphrased and interpreted as follows:

1. Not a diet.   Dismiss the diet mentality and steer clear of the many nonsensical, “quick, easy, and permanent” absurd weight loss plans bandied about.  They rarely are effective, are often unhealthy, and weight loss is typically followed by weight gain.  Allow your intuition to guide your eating, taking direction guided by your inner feelings and perceptions about eating, without needing time to give it much thought.

2. Eat when hungry.   Pay attention to your body and eat when you are hungry, just as you would drink when you are thirsty and sleep when you are fatigued.  Excessive hunger can trigger a drive to overeat and overwhelm your abilities to eat intuitively, intentionally and moderately.

3. Eat whatever you want.   Depriving yourself of a particular food can lead to uncontrollable cravings and possible over-compensation with bingeing.  Moderation is key.  In my own words, eating a modest portion of anything you desire is the “vaccine to prevent the disease.”

4. No food guilt or negativism.   The binary concept that you are “good” for healthy eating and “bad” for indulgent eating is a recipe for guilt, negativity, and possibly reactive bingeing.  Embrace moderate, guiltless indulgence without judgment.

5. Enjoy eating.   Be present, mindful, and savor and take pleasure in the sensual experience and satisfaction derived from eating foods that bring you joy. Portion control becomes intuitive under these circumstances.

6. Stop eating when satiated.   Call it quits at the point of satiation, as there is no need to be goal-oriented (like me) and desire to complete the task at hand by eating everything on your plate (and cleaning up my wife’s plate as well). Your objective should be satisfaction and resolution of hunger, not stuffing yourself to a level of discomfort.

7. Recognize that eating is not the solution for dealing with emotional issues.   When emotions surface, whether negative (stress, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, etc.) or positive (happiness), eating is a short-term source of distraction and comfort but clearly a poor method of appeasing or rewarding emotional hunger that should be dealt with in more productive ways.

8. Be realistic about your body’s size and shape. Yes, “genes load the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger”; however, genes do matter and more so than you might think.  Respect your body and be sensible and not hyper-critical about your body’s size and shape.

9. Stay active.  Stay active, but no need for aggressive or super-rigorous exercise.  The key is to keep moving and avoid being sedentary. Walking is a great form of exercise, especially when it is done at a good pace, including some hills. Try to find activities that bring you joy, e.g., pickleball, which is getting incredibly popular for good reason as it is fun, sociable, and a great source of exercise.

10. Honor your health.   Make wise food choices — choices that are appealing to your taste buds and at the same time healthy, at least most of the time. You don’t have to eat “perfectly” to be perfectly healthy.

Bottom Line: The intuitive eating philosophy is comprised of solid principles that make for a healthy and psychologically sound approach to eating.  However, it is important to recognize that although intuition is a useful source of guidance for many aspects of life including eating, intuition at times can lead one astray and guidance by intuition alone is certainly not a cure-all for all eating issues.  Furthermore, at times one’s emotional state can overwhelm one’s intuition and may possibly lead to promiscuous eating.    

Wishing you the best of health,

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Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro AreaInside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community. He is a urologist at New Jersey Urology, one of the largest urology practices in the United States.  He is the co-founder of PelvicRx and Private Gym.  His latest book is Prostate Cancer 20/20: A Practical Guide to Understanding Management Options for Patients and Their Families. 

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Video trailer for Prostate Cancer 20/20

Preview of Prostate Cancer 20/20

Andrew Siegel MD Amazon author page

PROSTATE CANCER 20/20 is now available at Audible, iTunes and Amazon as an audiobook read by the author (just over 6 hours). 

Dr. Siegel’s other books:

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual, and Urinary Health


MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health

PROMISCUOUS EATING— Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destruct