Can you be a Healthy Intuitive Eater?

eating a chocolate truffle

As someone who identifies as an intuitive eater and a Holistic Nutritionist, I have struggled with the idea that the two cannot exist together. Can you be a healthy intuitive eater? If you are immersed in the anti-diet culture and involved in the intuitive eating space, I am sure you have come across numerous posts that talk about eating whatever you want followed by pictures of candy and anything else not labeled as "healthy."

So if I happen not to partake in a lot of this food, does that also mean that I am still immersed in diet culture in some way? I don't think so, but it can be really confusing to talk about intuitive eating and then only show pictures of smoothie bowls, salads and healthy desserts. So can you be a healthy intuitive eater? Let's discuss...

What is Intuitive Eating?

Let's start with what is intuitive eating exactly. Put in the most basic way possible, it is eating foods you want to eat when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Of course, there is much more to it than this and I would encourage you to buy the Intuitive Eating book and workbook if you want to read more about it, it really is life changing! To me, intuitive eating is all about embracing foods, repairing your relationship to food and listening to your body, you can read more about ow to eat intuitively here. For a long time, I did not know how to do this. I restricted foods, then would binge on things later, feel guilty and then start all over again. It was a vicious cycle that never seemed to get much better. When I really got into healthy foods and cooking in 2012, I fell hard!

When I graduated from school in 2015, I was still very much restrictive with some foods and embraced the "clean eating" industry wholeheartedly. But, after a while, I began to notice that my relationship with food was so toxic and in turn so was the relationship I had with myself. I was not eating intuitively, rather I was eating what I thought I should be eating, ticking off all the nutrition boxes but yet I was still so unsatisfied. What the hell was wrong with me, I often wondered?

pouring a green smoothie

Anxiety Around Food:

I experienced anxiety around food which in turn created the worst digestive issues. So, naturally I tried paleo, keto (for like a day), gluten free, grain free, sugar free and nothing worked. It seemed that no matter what I eliminated, those digestive issues were still there. It wasn't until I repaired my relationship with food that the bloating finally stopped (and everything made me bloated prior to this). For me, all those digestive issues were directly related to my own food issues and poor self image and self worth. When I discovered intuitive eating, I truly discovered a different way to live, look at myself and yes the way I look at food too.

Embracing Intuitive Eating:

When I first embraced intuitive eating, I ate ALL THE THINGS. I can't tell you how freeing it was to go out to a restaurant, not have to worry about what was on the menu and just order what I wanted. I was also cooking up whatever I wanted too. I still chose quality ingredients and food as those are things that are very important to me, but there was so much freedom. Truly, I'll never go back to the way I was, EVER.

So can you be an intuitive eater and still eat healthy?

It really should be an easy answer (hint, the answer is YES!), but it is truly something that I wasn't sure how to balance at first. Because those initial first months of IE were filled with a lot of foods that I had considered "bad" previously, I thought I would never crave a gluten free pizza again. The truth is, I still crave a lot of healthy foods. They make me feel good whereas lots of sugar doesn't. That doesn't mean that I don't ever have dessert when I am out, because I do. But, generally I don't crave them because I find them too sweet.

The other difference is that I don't fear white sugar or bread to the point that if it was the only option, I would choose to starve rather than eat the food. I don't fear what having sugar will do to my body.

What I've noticed (particularly on Instagram) is that a lot of IE bloggers/nutritionists/RD's all promote eating candy, or sweets and they often times tend to call out others for choosing not to eat these things or include them on their feed. They will often say that by only showing healthy foods or eating healthy foods that this means you are not an intuitive eater or you are orthorexic. I don't agree with this at all. One can still choose healthy foods and be an intuitive eater. I do intuitively crave lots of healthy things like smoothies, salads and green juice. Sometimes, I crave burgers, pizza or chocolate.

drinking a glass of wine

A Healthy Intuitive Eater:

I think that I have finally found that happy balance when it comes to food, health and my relationship to it and I would happily call myself a healthy intuitive eater. If I do eat something that isn't considered "healthy" it's all good, I don't think twice about it or punish myself for it by making up for it with a workout or food restriction. It just simply is. The fear that certain foods had over me is gone and I am left not stressing about how a meal is going to affect me. I know that if I am on vacation and indulge in gelato, wine and pizza its all good. I don't stress about it, try to make up for it or feel guilty. This has taken a long time, lots of work and an incredible amount of self love and respect. It was not easy, but is anything this amazing ever easy?

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only share products and services I have personally used and love. Disclosure here.

I want to know your thoughts on this? Do you identify as a healthy intuitive eater? Do you think it is possible to still eat healthy and also eat intuitively?

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jaclyn
September 21, 2022
Hi Marnie! You could use about 3 to 4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast instead of parmesan.
Marnie
September 21, 2022
Hi, how much nutritional yeast would you suggest instead of cheese?
Jeanette
September 21, 2022
Absolutely LOVE this recipe - it's delicious (especially for those that like a hint of spice)!! My finance and I are obsessed and it's become part of our weeknight recipe rotation. It has a limited number of ingredients, it's quick to make/cook, but despite all of that - looks and tastes like much more time was spent! Thanks for the great recipe Jaclyn!
Matt
September 3, 2022
Do these burgers taste at all like beef? Thank you.
Grant
September 1, 2022
Just tried your recipe. Holly Hanna..... was that good! I know how to cook but you must try this one. I'm new to the this way of cooking but now I'm a believer. Keep them coming and I'll be trying them. Thanks ! G
Shafia
August 2, 2022
This was delicious!!! It takes some prep time but each portion is packed with flavour! Will definitely make again ❤️
Cristina
July 31, 2022
I made this yesterday and HOLY MOLY it hit the spot!!! It’s been so hot and muggy out here, so I was craving something light, cool, and filling. This recipe did not disappoint. The flavor of the peanut sauce was delicious. It had been a while since I prepared something with such color and flavor, which made eating it that much better. I will definitely make this again and try your other recipes too!! 😍🙏🏻❤️
Jaclyn
July 25, 2022
Hi Henrik! Thanks for letting me know you made them. Depending on the size of your food processor, it can be a lot to pulse all at once, so maybe working in batches is better. I'm glad you liked them and they firmed up for you :) Enjoy the rest!
henrik bechmann
July 25, 2022
Yep, they firmed up nicely. I'm freezing four, and looking forward to having the other four, dressed with sauerkraut, pickles, mustard, vegan mayo, onions, banana chiles, and maybe even ketchup. Yum!
henrik bechmann
July 25, 2022
Well I ended up baking them for 23 minutes (@400F). They're delicious! A bit soft, but I'm hoping they'll firm up when they cool. Texture is good too. Thanks for this!
henrik bechmann
July 24, 2022
Seems like a good and tasty recipe. But I had to add a generous half cup of water to get any kind of movement in the food processor. I substituted flax seeds for hemp (what I had). The mixture was a bit loose because of the water, but still formed nicely into patties. Baking for 15 min at 400F. Looking forward to them!
Jaclyn
July 23, 2022
Hi Roxanne! So for the meatballs photos with feta, I just used regular olive oil. But for the one photo with the red looking oil, that was olive oil mixed with fried green onions and Aleppo pepper. I have that recipe in full on my Instagram account - if you head over there, you'll see it - https://www.instagram.com/p/CbQXM2IlH4L/.
Roxanne
July 21, 2022
Hi! The topping on your whipped feta looked delicious. It appeared to be more than olive oil. Or maybe an infused olive oil? Do you mind sharing that recipe? I can’t wait to make this recipe. Appreciate the tip on room temp feta.
ANYA
July 19, 2022
Make these now! Once you buy your ingredients, this is the easiest recipe to execute...it's so hands off! I started the beef in the instant pot an hour before we wanted to eat and prepped the toppings while all of that was cooking. I used stewing beef and a home-made taco seasoning. I didn't have any beef broth so I used half of a bouillon cube - worked just fine! The enchilada sauce was store bought (Frontera brand) and it was delicious. Highly recommend the Monteray jack cheese - I used some Violife mozzarella that I happened to have at home but I can see how the sharp taste would add to the overall flavour.
Jaclyn
July 18, 2022
Hi Carolyn! I'm so glad you are loving my recipes, thank you so much for taking the time to let me know. I don't provide nutritional information as it doesn't align with my brand or how I personally choose to live my life, having had a disordered relationship to food in the past. I hope you understand :)
Carolyn
July 13, 2022
I love your recipes and have tried them! What would be GREAT is if you could include the nutritional value with calories. It would be beneficial to those of us trying to lose weight. Thank you, Carolyn
Julia
July 11, 2022
Just made this for my family today. I can’t have gluten or dairy but they can and this got a RESOUNDING stamp of approval! Love the simple ingredients and it tasted fabulous! Thanks for such nourishing recipes ❤️ 😊
Chris
July 3, 2022
Thanks for this! I came across this recipe very late in life, at a family meal. I liked it better than my mother's potato salad of my childhood, and better than my sister's which came from her in-laws. DH likes it very much. Win, win, win! Tip: if you don't want to steam up your summer kitchen nor fight the mosquitoes for the grill, pressure cook the potatoes!
MATILDE PAGAN
May 12, 2022
I am on a short vacation and came across this recipe, looking forward in making this. It looks really good. Can’t wait.
Whitney Mullenax
April 22, 2022
I have these cookies in the oven right now (2nd time making them in a few weeks). They are perfection and will be a great gift for some coworkers tomorrow. I made the recipe as is, great texture! I saved some for me too, don't worry ;)
Olivia Garcia
April 15, 2022
I love the ingredients in these recipes… Can’t wait to start them all!!
Anya
April 14, 2022
Don’t sleep on this wing recipe. It is soooo good! I can see this being a staple for game days, casual dinners or honestly…any day. Such a crowd pleaser as well. Oh and please don’t skip the dip. It’s unreal stuff! I was grabbing random things in my kitchen to eat it with once the wings were done.
Christa Campbell
March 28, 2022
The simplest recipe to make a delicious desert! I left out the cacao and just made vanilla coconut flavor and it was heavenly. I plan to add different flavors in the future; cacao with Orange or raspberry essence, vanilla salted, caramel flour de sel- the options are endless. Glad to find a keto friendly treat that can be made easily at home.
Rich
March 24, 2022
When do you add the mushrooms back in the pot?
Heidi
February 13, 2022
These were good! I've been curious to try making a miso dessert for a little while now, but wanted it to be grain free. I've found that almond flour based chocolate chip cookies always have some kind of nut butter, and since I just use peanut butter, it's like a PB cookie. The miso did a great job replacing nut butter and achieved a great, chewy consistency! It's definitely strong, although I'm sure white miso would have been more mild. I used dashi miso, which in hindsight sounds pretty gross.. the cookies were not at all fishy tasting, but just bold and kind of salty/savory. I think next time I'll try a little less miso. I have a tendency to use less sugar than a recipe calls for, but I definitely needed it in this one to balance the miso flavor. I just used regular butter too, not ghee.
Susan Renee Hennings
January 12, 2022
Yes, I like it a lot. Lentils are nutritious and inexpensive.
Carole
January 2, 2022
I’m just learning about adaptogens and trying to incorporate them into my “healthy arsenal”. Thanks for the info!
MAdeleine
December 27, 2021
This is the first cinnamon roll recipe i've actually gotten to work! I let the dough rest in the fridge for 4-5 hours and then rolled and filled it, then let it rest in the fridge over night and it worked great for an early morning bake. I looked through the whole recipe and you never mention what temperature to bake at. It just says "place in your preheated oven to bake" I baked at 350. Also it would be really nice if the caramel sauce recipe was included here. All in all totally delicious, worth the effort, and I will be making this again.