Many people have tried some type of diet at least once, whether it be cutting out carbs or going on the South Beach diet — intuitive eating, however, offers an alternative that gives you a much healthier relationship with food.
The problem with dieting is that it almost never works long term, because restricting yourself and looking at certain foods as “bad” or “good” doesn’t foster a positive view on food or your body.
Since a lot of diets rely on the person feeling like a failure if they eat anything considered unhealthy, intuitive eating seeks to change diet culture. Intuitive eating was created in 1995 by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. It’s a non-diet approach to eating where you don’t count calories or macros, but instead rely on your body to tell you what and how much to eat with no guilt involved.
One of the most prominent platforms where fad diets and body negativity arise is Instagram. There are many accounts that promote dieting, feeling guilt over eating and obsessing about body image to an unhealthy degree. I’ve found some Instagram accounts that counteract diet culture and the obsession with a perfect body. They promote intuitive eating and body positivity by making inspirational posts and giving advice.
Molly Bahr is a licensed mental health counselor with 40,000 followers on Instagram, and she promotes intuitive eating as well as health for every size. Her posts consist of pictures of different foods and a variety of quotes where she discusses how intuitive eating is better than dieting and how important it is to have a healthy relationship with food.
On one of her recent posts, Bahr put up a picture of a Cuban sandwich and wrote: “Intuitive Eating is a mind-body approach where we respect, honor and reconnect with our body and its wisdom rather than ignore it and rely on an outside source telling us when, what and how much to eat. It’s a great option for people who want to make peace with food and their body.”
View this post on Instagram
Intuitive Eating is a mind-body approach where we respect, honor, and reconnect with our body and its wisdom rather than ignore it and rely on an outside source telling us when, what, and how much to eat. It’s a great option for people who want to make peace with food and their body. This process involves getting to know your body, the signals it sends, and aiming for satisfaction. What would a satisfying meal consist of to you? What makes you think you can’t have it and where did you learn that rule? Would you tell a child to follow this rule? My favorite part of IE is that it isn’t ‘pass/fail’. Each time we feel like we blew it, and this happens a lot as we step away from the black/white diet mentality, we can look at it as just data or an opportunity to learn more information. You did not fail anything, Monday doesn’t have to be filled with punishment, restriction, or regret – that’s an old story from the diet mentality! You can have your Cuban sandwich and eat it too – whatever that saying means… What’s the most challenging or confusing part of intuitive eating for you?
@mollybcounseling is a great Instagram account to follow for everyday inspirational messages about body positivity and detailed explanations of how intuitive eating works. She captions her photos with important information and questions for her readers to reflect on, like how our view of food affects our lives. Bahr’s account is a helpful resource for anyone looking to learn more about intuitive eating and how to follow it.
Krista Murias is a certified intuitive eating coach that uses her Instagram to educate people about how harmful diet culture is and how intuitive eating can help. One of her recent posts is a quote that says, “I’m willing to take care of my body by listening to its cues, nourishing it well and moving in ways I enjoy. I’m no longer willing to punish my body or try to force it to be smaller through restriction and deprivation.”
View this post on Instagram
Diet culture pushes this notion that in order to be taking care of our bodies, we should be actively trying to lose weight, or maintain our weight. We believe we’re not taking care of our bodies well enough if we gain weight, and conversely, we seem to believe that weight loss achieved by any means is always a good thing, and always good for our health. It’s not. Weight and health are not the same thing. Sometimes taking care of your body means gaining weight. Often, losing weight means restriction and deprivation, which does not equal health. Take weight out of the equation. If you want to improve your health and take care of your body, it doesn’t have to involve intentional weight loss. Focus on behaviours you can control, not a number that you have far less control over than we’re led to believe.
The @kristamurias account encourages its followers to think about how many diets they’ve been on, noting that if diets really worked, then they wouldn’t need to try so many. Murias spreads body positivity by saying that not all thin people are healthy, despite what society would have you believe, and you don’t need to be small to be worthy and healthy. Her message is that guilt should never be associated with food and no food makes you good or bad, nor should you be put down or praised for what you eat.
Alissa Rumsey is a non-diet dietician and intuitive eating counselor who does virtual coaching and online courses. Her Instagram account is more directed toward women, but men could follow it as well for messages about body positivity and intuitive eating. She talks a lot about body positivity and how stretch marks, cellulite, skin discoloration, etc. are all normal, natural parts of the body.
In one of Rumsey’s recent posts, she explains that “your size and your weight do not determine your value in the world.” She says women especially receive more compliments on how they look than their accomplishments, talents, personality or character.
View this post on Instagram
As women, we often receive WAY more compliments about how we look than we do about our accomplishments, talents, personality, or character. But our appearance – including our body size and body weight – do NOT determine our value. These are not the things that make us valuable in the world. You are MORE than a body (to borrow from one of my favorite accounts @beauty_redefined). • So what determines your value? Is it who you are as a person? How you make people feel? A career you love? Raising loving children? Let's start to make a list – share with me below 🤗❤️ #morethanabody #beautyredefined #defineyourvalue #seemorebemore #nondietdietitian #haes #bodyrespect #bodypositivity
She wishes to emphasize it’s not our looks that determine our value; we are more than a body. Diet culture puts size and weight as the most important aspect of a person, but Alissa shows with intuitive eating that you can take the focus off your body and stop obsessing about food.
@alissarumseyrd talks about the “food police,” a subject the other accounts I’ve mentioned have also discussed. People who have gone on diets or have restricted their eating to lose weight often have a voice that acts as a food police. It tells them they’re good or bad based on what foods they eat.
If someone with the food police voice eats pizza for example, they’ll immediately think they need to restrict for the rest of the week or work out excessively to make up for eating something “bad.” Rumsey explains we need to tune out the food police that society instills in us and instead listen to the cues of our body.
View this post on Instagram
Ever notice that voice in your head that declares you “bad” for eating a certain food, or tells you that you “should” or “shouldn’t” have something? That running inner dialogue that judges your food choices is the food police. When we approach our eating behaviors with judgment, it is really harmful. Judgment keeps you in the black and white thinking; it keeps you in the diet cycle; and leads to anxiety, low self-esteem, irritability and depression. Turning down the volume on those voices and judgments is an important part of healing your relationship to food. It’s an active process and one that requires building more self-awareness by using more curiosity and a big dose of self-compassion. A suggestion on how you can start to change that internal dialogue: Step 1: Recognize and name the food police thoughts and realize that they are not helping, only hurting. Step 2: Start to reframe the thoughts. A few tips on how to do this: 👉🏼Make observations without making judgments. Thoughts like "I skipped breakfast and was starving by 12pm" or "I had those cookies last night but didn't really pay attention to how they tasted" are free of judgment. 👉🏿Change the voice that plays in your head. After you identify a "food police" thought, replace it with a more realistic thought. For example "I am learning to include foods I find satisfying and enjoyable" and "I am learning to trust my hunger and body cues". 👉🏾Employ curiosity – this allows you to take a step back and get some perspective. Curiosity helps you tap into a place of self-compassion. When you're operating from a place of greater understanding, you end up with a more positive result. For more on this I’ve got a blog post up – go to alissarumsey.com/blog and search “food police” 🤗 #intuitiveeating #getcurious #selfcompassion #mindfulness #lessjudgment #nondietlife #nondietdietitian #nondietapproach #antidiet
Dr. Claudia T. Felty is a registered dietician and nutrition educator who uses her platform to inform people about intuitive eating, especially the myths verses the truths.
A lot of Dr. Felty’s posts are comparisons like myth vs. truth or silly vs. smart. One of her recent posts is a comparison where she says “Silly: Avoiding your favorite chocolate because carbs, calories, etc. Smart: Knowing you can have any food, any time, without guilt or shame.” She explains it’s completely normal to crave “unhealthy” foods after restricting yourself on a diet and that you shouldn’t fight those cravings. They’ll subside over time as you focus what your body needs.
View this post on Instagram
Reposting an oldie but a goodie today. Intuitive eating allows you to have any food, anytime, without guilt or shame. ⠀ This is really difficult to understand when you begin #intuitiveeating and that’s totally understandable since most of us come from #dietlife where we aren’t allowed to have any of the foods we crave without guilt. ⠀ That’s why it’s so important that you understand it’s COMPLETELY NORMAL to crave the foods you’ve restricted when you first start to remove the diet rules. ⠀ The intense cravings for cake, candy, pizza, or whatever your fear food may be, will subside over time. ⠀ Bonus, you’ll also start to crave foods like fruits, veggies and whole grains when you really hone into your bodies need to feel it’s best. ⠀ Trust in the process. It will not let you down 🙏🏻💕 ⠀ Are you struggling with this? Share with me and let’s get some support going your way 💕 ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ___________________________________________ #allfoodsfit #weightwatchers #flexibledieting #flexibleeating #balanceddiet #balancedlife #eatingwell #whole30 #bingeeating #dietrescue #edrecovery #selfloveisthebestlove #dietitian #weightlossplan #weightloss #fitfood #fitnessjourney #whole30life #eatwellbewell #fuelyourbody #haes #progressnotperfection #tiuloveyourbody #effyourbeautystandards #foodfreedom
Another one of Dr. Felty’s posts states “Myth: Intuitive Eating= no more alcohol. Truth: Intuitive Eating= balance with alcohol.” The most important aspect of intuitive eating is taking away the stress and obsession over what you put into your body. However, not focusing on what and how much you consume doesn’t mean you eat unhealthily all the time or drink too much.
View this post on Instagram
I get asked a lot by clients “do I have to give up alcohol?” ⠀ Short answer, no you don’t have to give up alcohol 🍷 🍺 to eat intuitively. ⠀ Long answer, as with anything in the Intuitive Eating realm, it may take some time to get to a place where enjoying a drink (or a couple) without guilt, shame, or stress is possible. ⠀ Restricting food in anyway is problematic if we’re planning on drinking. Think 💭 increased intoxication, poor decision making, and late night binge eating. We’ve all been there 💁🏼♀️ ⠀ The good news is it doesn’t have to pan out that way. You don’t have to “earn” your beverage of choice by saving up calories or getting in an extra workout at the gym. ⠀ If you want to enjoy alcohol: continue to listen to you body about your hunger and fullness cues, don’t skip meals when you plan to drink, drink water so you stay hydrated, and if you’re starting to feel like a saucey señorita hit pause on the 🍷 until you feel more like yourself again. P.S If you feel like you have a problem with alcohol, skipping drinking altogether is the only way to go and please make sure to reach out and get the help you need to live your best life 💕 ___________________________________________ #allfoodsfit #weightwatchers #flexibledieting #flexibleeating #balanceddiet #balancedlife #eatingwell #whole30 #bingeeating #dietrescue #edrecovery #selfloveisthebestlove #dietitian #weightlossplan #weightloss #fitnessjourney #whole30life #eatwellbewell #fuelyourbody #haes #progressnotperfection #tiuloveyourbody #effyourbeautystandards #foodfreedom #intuitiveeating #naturalweightloss
Instead, intuitive eating means that you can consume whatever you want without feeling guilty, which then then leads to you wanting to fuel yourself with healthy food, while not feeling like you have to restrict fun food or drinks either.
Dr. Felty discusses how she used to be terrified of going out to eat with her friends, only ordering water because she didn’t want to eat foods that she didn’t know the ingredients or calories for. She clarifies how unhealthy that mindset is and how everyone deserves to go out to eat whenever they want and order whatever they want. She suggests, “order, eat and move on with your day.”
Lauren Newman is a registered dietician and eating disorder and diabetes expert who uses her Instagram to educate people on intuitive eating, especially relating to eating disorders.
In one of her recent posts, Newman says, “Eating ‘healthy’ at the expense of feeling stressed about all your food choices and/or having food take up a significant amount of space in your brain isn’t actually healthy.” She explains that you’re not being healthy if a decision between pizza and a salad causes you an extreme amount of stress. There’s a time and place to eat both.
View this post on Instagram
When we talk about health, let’s not forget about: 1. Mental health. 2. The many ways mental health can directly affect our physical health. 3. How the pursuit of health may interfere with our social relationships. Is eating a salad instead of pizza really the “healthy” choice if it cost you intense anxiety to make that decision? If you have a stomach ache from the stress of that decision? If you have totally missed the conversation at the table with your friends because you were so in your head about pizza vs. salad? For all my followers with diabetes, this applies to you too. Blood sugar isn’t the only aspect of health that’s important to consider. Mental and social health are equally as important. Your relationship with food is important. How all these things affect your BG is likely an aspect of diabetes management that hasn’t been acknowledged nearly as much as it should. This example isn’t to say that salads are bad and pizza is good (or vice versa). There’s a time and a place for both. But “healthy” eating is about so much more than just the food.
Newman also talks about the types of people we surround ourselves with, and whether they’re supportive of healthy relationships with food. She asks, “What are meals like with your friends? Do you notice the conversation shifting towards good and bad foods? Guilt and shame around eating or movement?”
While it’s important to reflect on yourself and your view of your body and food, it’s also important to evaluate how you’re influenced by others in your life. People who diet, restrict or are obsessed with food do not comprise a healthy mindset to be around.
All these Instagram accounts are helpful ones to follow if you struggle at all with body image or dieting. Even if you don’t, the messages each account promotes are ones we should all acknowledge and follow in our daily lives. If you’re struggling in any way with eating and your body, you should see a professional, but following these accounts is a good start to understanding how intuitive eating works and why it’s so much healthier than diet culture.