Eating disorders are harmful mental disorders highly prevalent worldwide, especially in women.1 A systematic literature review in 2018 found that the prevalence of eating disorders has increased from 3.5% in 2000-2006 to 7.8% in 2013-2018.1 The increased prevalence of eating disorders highlights a growing public health concern and a challenge for those providing treatment and recovery. There are many approaches to treating eating disorders; some have included intuitive eating in the treatment program.
Initially developed in 1995 by the registered dietitian nutritionists Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, intuitive eating is a mind-body health approach that aims to help people
In 2020, Hazzard et al. found that people with higher intuitive eating scores had better predicted psychological outcomes and reduced disordered eating among young adults and adolescents from 2010-2018.4 Participants with a greater baseline intuitive eating score and participants who increased their intuitive eating score over time were associated with a lower risk of severe depressive symptoms, low self-esteem, unhealthy weight control behaviors, extreme weight control behaviors, and binge eating. Notably, higher intuitive eating scores and increase in score over time were the strongest protective associations against binge eating behaviors.4 These findings promise the effectiveness of intuitive eating when treating eating disorders over time. It is more promising that individuals with eating disorders are taught intuitive eating practices. Richards et al. demonstrated the integration of intuitive eating in an established inpatient-residential eating disorder recovery program, which was effectively taught to patients with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and eating disorders not otherwise specified.5 Collectively, all patients were able to increase their baseline intuitive eating score
Although these studies demonstrate that intuitive eating can
1.Galmiche, M., Déchelotte, P., Lambert, G., & Tavolacci, M. P. (2019). Prevalence of eating disorders over the 2000–2018 period: A Systematic Literature Review. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 109(5), 1402–1413. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy342
2.Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2020). Intuitive eating: A revolutionary anti-diet approach. St. Martin’s Essentials.
3.Bruce, L. J., & Ricciardelli, L. A. (2016). A systematic review of the psychosocial correlates of intuitive eating among adult women. Appetite, 96, 454–472. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2015.10.012
4.Hazzard, V. M., Telke, S. E., Simone, M., Anderson, L. M., Larson, N. I., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2020). Intuitive eating longitudinally predicts better psychological health and lower use of disordered eating behaviors: Findings from EAT 2010–2018. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 26(1), 287–294. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-020-00852-4
5.Richards, P. S., Crowton, S., Berrett, M. E., Smith, M. H., & Passmore, K. (2017). Can patients with eating disorders learn to eat intuitively? A 2-year pilot study. Eating Disorders, 25(2), 99–113. https://doi.org/10.1080/10640266.2017.1279907
By Julian Robles