Intuitive Eating

Reaction Paper on Intuitive Eating The book en d Intuitive Eating (Tribole and Resch, 1995) impressed me with its simple, clear message to throwaway calorie counting and strict dietary plans. This rather radical recommendation seems to run contrary to all the received wisdom about healthy nutrition and weight control and so my first thoughts on opening the book were that surely this was a gimmick that could not possibly be true. I have seen so many weird and wonderful diet and nutrition books on the market that I have learned to be somewhat sceptical when yet another new concept or new approach emerges. After further reading, however, I came to the conclusion that the book was making a very serious contribution to the field of nutrition, and that it was based on some good scientific evidence. The first chapter made it clear to me that the starting point of the book was one of the biggest problems faced by readers who have difficulty achieving and maintaining a healthy weight: a process that I would describe as diet fatigue. From my own experience I know that it is very difficult to stick to any diet and that there is a tendency for dieters to have a cycle of enthusiasm, initial weight loss, failure to maintain momentum, and finally a regaining of the pounds that have been lost and a search for a new diet. It was a new idea for me to consider this issue from the angle that dieting is the problem and not the solution. In fact the term that the authors use for this is diet backlash (Tribole and Resch, 1995, p. 2). The authors make the point that serial dieting is not only unsuccessful, it is actually harmful because it teaches the mind and the body to acquire all kinds of bad habits that counteract any good effects of the changes made in calorie intake. So far I was convinced by the argument, but I had a nagging worry that the authors would need to come up with something special to replace the tried and tested means of dieting for those who want to achieve a healthy body weight. Chapter two was an interesting exploration of different personality types which are reflected in eating habits. The three main categories of Careful Eater, Professional Dieter and Unconscious Eater. In my opinion this is an over-simplification because I have encountered many different personality types, both in my professional life and in my private circle of friends. The value of the descriptors is, however, that it encourages the reader to focus on the underlying motivations for people’s behavior in relation to food. I have one friend, for example, who constantly criticizes what other people are eating, and this can be very unhelpful when we go out together. It destroys the enjoyment that other people have, and it is often the case that going out is an occasion for treats, which other friends look forward to. This is an example of the careful eater personality which negatively impacts themselves, and on others too. I found the concept of the Intuitive Eater quite helpful as a way of changing my own perceptions. The ten principles, however, are very far reaching, and I thought that the advice given on each of those, though sensible, would be difficult for even the most motivated person to achieve. The section in chapter 14 about honoring your health made sense to me. It reminds me of the principle of mindfulness that is used in various other areas of psychology and counselling. Overall, I liked the approaches presented in this book. The chatty tone and use of humor and everyday language made it more memorable than some dry textbooks I have read in the past, and this suggests that the book has achieved its aim, at least in my case. It has changed my view from a focus on diets to more rounded appreciation of personality and lifestyle. I had already come to some of these conclusions before, independently of this book, but the book reminded me of them, and reinforced them, which is why I would recommend this book to clients and to colleagues working in the nutrition field. ReferencesTribole, Evelyn and Resch, Elyse. Intuitive Eating. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995.