Intuitive eating: the anti-dieting approach by Karine Gravel


Eat all you want when you want. Well, almost. The principles of intuitive eating run counter to traditional diets. Instead, this diet aims to re-establish a healthy relationship with food, by tuning in to what your body tells you.

Karine Gravel, a nutritionist and doctor in nutrition, is very enthusiastic about this approach and explains the idea behind rediscovering the pleasure of eating. What’s more, it’s healthy for you too!

Nearly 90% of people who follow a weight-loss diet arrive at the same sad conclusion: they end up regaining the weight they lost, two years or more after they stopped dieting. A vicious circle of failed diets ensues, leading to an increase in body weight in the long term, known as the infamous yo-yo effect.

According to Karine Gravel, “the human body cannot be considered as a mere reservoir of calories. On the contrary, the definition of eating is based on three concepts: feeding yourself, gathering with others and enjoying yourself in order to satisfy your biological, social and psychological needs while also better regulating your food intake”. Welcome to the world of intuitive eating!

How does intuitive eating also help control your weight?

Karine Gravel – Intuitive eating is not about keeping your weight under control. Instead you start from your natural weight, also called your set point weight or genetic weight. This is your weight if you were to eat when you are hungry and until you are full and satisfied as well as live a healthy life. This may not necessarily be your ideal weight or your perfect weight.

Intuitive eating is all about changing your habits, which in turn may cause you to lose weight even though you did not originally intend to. Intuitive eating is not another diet fad, in other words.

Intuitive eating rejects the notions of depriving yourself of food and controlling what you eat, which ultimately may give rise to binge eating and other problems. Instead, this pragmatic approach starts by analysing the reasons:

  • that make you want to eat even though you don’t feel hungry,
  • that make you eat past the point of satiety.

This is a successful approach in the long term as it is not associated with a sense of deprivation or frustration. Current studies also indicate that people who start to eat intuitively have a lower body mass index, are less inclined to be overweight and have fewer eating disorders.

The positive effects are therefore measured both in terms of weight and in terms of people’s relationship with food, even though the results of these studies must be interpreted with caution as they establish correlations rather than causal relationships.

How is this different from mindfulness?

Karine Gravel – Intuitive eating and mindful eating are both inspired by the new weight paradigm. Instead of relying on external stimuli, these approaches tune in to the physiological cues of hunger and satiety, which regulate our food intake.

They also take due account of the emotions that are associated with eating, and aim to stabilise weight in the long term. The main difference lies in the meditation aspect of mindful eating, often in the form of yoga in studies.

Intuitive eating, meanwhile, is based on 10 principles that will make you feel good and maintain a harmonious relationship with food and your body.

If you wanted to share the message of intuitive eating,
how would you go about this?
(video in French)