What is Intuitive Eating? What is Mindful Eating?

Written by UConn Dietetics Student Ben Giroux

Teens eating lunchYou have all heard the phrase, “trust your gut”. While this is a figure of speech, it can also be a general description of intuitive eating. When eating intuitively, you eat based on when your body tells you it is hungry and when it is full. A growling, empty stomach, a lack of energy, light-headedness, grumpiness, and weakness are all signs of hunger.


  • Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues
  • Eat balanced meals including foods from different food groups per meal or snack
  • Get rid of diet mentality that one specific diet will work

Mindful eating is different than intuitive eating, but they can work together. Mindful eating is an awareness of the food, and the amount of food, that is being taken in, including observing the taste, satisfaction, and fullness it provides2. It is also the opposite of mindless eating, which contributes to over-eating because we are unaware of what we are taking in. This commonly happens with mid-day or late-night snacking when the full bag of potato chips accompanies you to the couch to watch TV, instead of the serving size of the chips being placed in the bowl.


  • Look at the Nutrition Facts Label to check serving sizes
  • Measure out serving sizes of foods into a bowl/plate
  • Slow down the pace of your eating, enjoying taste and texture
  • Choose foods that are both pleasing and nourishing
  • Eat away from distractions (Examples = TV, working at home)

Our bodies are intelligent and are able to understand when we need food in order to provide us energy.  The understanding of the concepts of mindful eating, and intuitive eating can be very beneficial to those who are trying to improve their eating habits. This knowledge of how foods affect the body has the potential to result in a better relationship with food and the ability to manage food and drink choices3


  1. Schaefer, MS, RD, J. T., & Magnunson, PhD, RD, LD/N, A. (2014). A Review of Interventions that Promote Eating by Internal Cues. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(5), 734–760.
  2. What Should You Know about Mindful and Intuitive Eating? (2009). Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 1982–1987.
  3. Bruce, L., & Ricciardelli, L. (2016). A systematic review of the psychosocial correlates of intuitive eating among adult women. Journal of Appetite, 96, 454–472.


This material is funded by UDSA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

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