Intuitive Eating vs. Mindful Eating: What’s the Difference?

I explain the differences and similarities between intuitive eating and mindful eating, and discuss if one practice is more beneficial than the other.

A few weeks ago, I introduced the topic of Intuitive Eating to my blog, mentioning that it’s becoming increasingly popular online and in the health/nutrition/wellness communities. You may have also heard of mindful eating, have at least heard someone mention eating mindfully. Maybe you’ve heard the practices of intuitive eating and mindful eating being used interchangeably. But should they be? Are they the same thing? I’ll tell you in this post.

Dietitian Hannah Magee explains the differences and similarities between intuitive eating and mindful eating.

Let’s start by defining mindful eating.

Mindful eating comes from the practice of mindfulness. To be mindfulness is defined by paying attention to the present moment, on purpose and without judgement. When we take mindfulness and translate it to the action of eating, we get mindful eating. So, to eat mindfully means to pay attention to the eating experience on purpose, without judgement.

So yes, that does mean paying attention to the eating experience when taking part. From chewing the food, recognizing the tastes and the textures, pausing to sip your beverage and recognizing when your hunger is diminishing and feelings of fullness are taking over. However, it is more than just paying attention to the experience of sitting down and eating your meal.

According to the Centre for Mindful Eating:

Mindful eating is also becoming aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities available through food and the process of selecting and preparing food. It involves using all senses to to choose food that is satisfying and nourishing to your body. It also includes acknowledging responses to food (a.k.a. preferences) without judgement. The Centre for Mindful Eating also notes that eating mindfully means accepting that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to eat and that all eating experiences are unique. It states that someone who eats mindfully has awareness of how they can make choices to support health and wellbeing, and is aware of the interconnection between earth, living beings and cultural practices and the impact of their food choices on these systems.

As you see, mindful eating is more than just paying close, moment to moment attention to the eating experience. You may even recognize some similarities to intuitive eating in there. I recognize how easy it could be to confuse the two. However, as mentioned, they are not one in the same.

How does intuitive eating differs from mindful eating?

If you haven’t already, take a peek at my Introduction to Intuitive Eating so that you’re all caught up.

While intuitive eating includes mindful eating – the creators of intuitive eating actually refer to it as ‘conscious eating’ it’s a more broad philosophy that addresses more than just eating. If you’re familiar with the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating, then you may be familiar that the practice of intuitive eating also involves rejecting the diet mentality and participating in physical activity for the sake of feeling good. Intuitive eating addresses your lifestyle rather than just your eating, encourages you to challenge diet culture, and encourages you to respect your body no matter it’s shape or size.

I wouldn’t argue that one is better than the other. As mentioned, intuitive eating includes mindful eating in it’s broader philosophy. I feel that both are practices that encourage normal eating and more positive relationships with food, as they encompass listening to your body, respecting it’s hunger and fullness cues, and recognizing that there is not a right or wrong way to eat.

What do you think? Are you familiar with mindful eating or intuitive eating? Was this post helpful? Let me know in the comments! Be sure to follow along on Instagram and sign up for my newsletter so you can stay up to date on things like blog posts, upcoming courses (!!!) and more.

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