Intuitive or Intentional Eating: Which Works Best for You?

A large family sharing dinner.

The need to eat is an essential aspect of human existence. (Image: Prostockstudio via Dreamstime)

Eating is an essential aspect of human existence. Not only is it necessary for people to eat to stay alive and healthy, but people’s daily lives also center around when, where, and what they eat for the day. It’s important to remember that food does more than make you feel full. It also gives you essential nutrients that help your body to be healthy.

People can get quite sick without these nutrients, and maintaining health might be difficult for them later in life. Also, many people have formed habits regarding what and how often they eat. No matter how long you’ve stuck with your eating habit, it’s never too late to begin making changes. So if you want to change your diet, keep reading to know which approach will work best for you.

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What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is easy to understand as it signifies that you learn to accept all foods for what they are. This approach differs from conventional diets because it does not dictate what you may or cannot eat while preparing a meal. Instead, you consume what makes you feel satisfied and pay attention to your body’s signals.

That doesn’t imply you can eat anything you want whenever you want, though. According to experts, this approach is listening to your hunger and fullness cues rather than forcing yourself on feeling a certain way.

Also, when you eat intuitively, you dismiss the belief that you need to control your weight to achieve a particular appearance. Instead, this approach aims to direct your attention toward foods that contribute most to your bodily and mental well-being.

Intuitive eating aims to direct your attention toward foods that contribute most to your bodily and mental well-being.
Intuitive eating aims to direct your attention toward foods that contribute most to your bodily and mental well-being. (Image: Msphotographic via Dreamstime)

What is intentional eating?

Intentional eating is a dietary approach that involves listening to your inner wisdom to take advantage of the nourishing possibilities presented by your food and the actions to prepare them. This approach is used when you want to be considerate of all of your senses in selecting meals that will replenish you and help you feel good. 

Also, this approach is acknowledging your feelings about food (positive, negative, or neutral) and accepting them without judgment. You will become aware of when your body is telling you it’s hungry, and when it’s telling you it’s complete will help you make better food decisions.

In a simple explanation, this approach is a powerful method that aids in balancing your connection to food. With the help of mindful eating, you may overcome the diet mindset, end your food obsession, and break free from mindless eating.

Intuitive vs. intentional 

It is not necessary to choose between the two. While you can find aspects of the intentional approach in several intuitive approach concepts, this does not guarantee that you will adopt these guidelines without further effort.

The similarities

These two ways of eating are based on how a human’s thoughts and emotions affect what they prefer to eat. Also, they teach similar habits, like paying attention to what your body is saying and enjoying every bite.

Further, they can both improve in reducing discomfort related to food. The intuitive approach focuses on getting back in touch with your body through skills like awareness and other practices. At the same time, the intentional approach emphasizes reducing external distractions during meals. Your choice between the two should depend on your health and wellness goals (or both).

Key differences

Intuitive and intentional eating share many similarities, but there are also some critical distinctions between the two approaches.

Comparatively, the intuitive approach is a more holistic approach that goes beyond the act of eating itself. This approach advises individuals not to pay attention to what society views in their diet and develop a healthier relationship with food and their bodies. In contrast, the intentional approach focuses on accepting your eating habits in their current state.

Intuitive eating is a more holistic approach that goes beyond the act of eating itself.
Intuitive eating is a more holistic approach that goes beyond the act of eating itself. (Image: Monkey Business Images via Dreamstime)

Which is best for you?

As mentioned above, these two approaches cannot be right or wrong for you. However, it will be best if you depend on it for your health goals. For instance, the intuitive approach may be more suitable if you wish to restore balance to a biased perspective on food. And the intentional approach can help you become more attentive to how you nourish your body.  

Eating habits for a healthier diet

Intuitive and intentional eating can be the approaches you are looking for for your dream healthier diet. The two approaches talked about above could be an excellent place to start for you. 

In either case, both approaches can help you form a more positive connection with the food, which is an essential step toward healthier eating habits and lifestyles. In addition, you will benefit from being present, eating only when hungry, and savoring every mouthful, whether you choose an intuitive or intentional approach.

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