An introduction to intuitive eating

intuitive eating an introduction

Intuitive eating: Getting started


Intuitive eating is a relatively new term that you may have heard floating around on the internet, or maybe someone you know mentioned it in a conversation and you weren’t quite sure what it meant.

Here at Embody Health London, we describe intuitive eating as an evidence-based self-care eating framework that combines our emotions, our thoughts and instinct. It involves rejecting the harmful mindset of dieting and restriction and instead tuning in to your body’s own signals to nurture balanced eating patterns.

This lifestyle encourages you to grow and become connected with your emotional and biological needs on a much deeper level.

New research supporting intuitive eating is emerging constantly, with many studies showing that intuitive eating has a positive impact on people’s relationship with food, improving body satisfaction and decreasing eating disorder symptomology1.


The ten principles of intuitive eating

  • One: Getting out of the diet mentality

Let’s be honest: diet culture is harmful and can have negative effects on both our mental and physical health! Crash dieting has been known to increase the risk of overeating, binge eating and even disordered eating2.

That’s why intuitive eating encourages you to ditch dieting and rediscover the joys of eating, creating positive associations with food rather than negative ones.


  • Two: Honouring your hunger

Hunger is our body’s way of telling us what we need. These hunger cues shouldn’t be suppressed or ignored, because ultimately this is what leads to becoming trapped in the cycle of restricting and overeating.

Listen to what your body is telling you: food is fuel!


  • Three: Making peace with food

Food is NOT the enemy! When we think about foods as being “good” or “bad”, we promote fear and stress around eating. Food should be something that brings us happiness and joy, not something that holds us back.


  • Four: Challenging food “rules”

Intuitive eating means pushing aside the unhelpful, often inaccurate, messages that diet culture tries to feed us. The sooner you learn to deconstruct these concepts, the happier you will be in your relationship with eating.


  • Five: Appreciating when you’re full

Just like when we’re hungry, our bodies will tell us when we’re full! A positive relationship with food and our body includes tuning in with your feelings of fullness and satiety; learning to recognise your natural bodily cues and responding appropriately.


  • Six: Exploring the satisfaction in eating

Eating should not only satisfy your taste buds, but it should satisfy your appetite as well! We need to make sure that not only are we enjoying our food, but that it fills us up and nourishes us too.

If you’re still feeling hungry after finishing a meal, think to yourself – what could I add to make this more satisfying and fulfilling?


  • Seven: Honouring your own emotions

Your emotions are valid and need to be acknowledged to build a healthy relationship with food. After all, eating is an emotional process and can stem from a place of unmet emotional needs.

Eating as a way of coping with your emotions most of the time is probably not going to make you feel any better in the long run – it’s important to find healthier ways of dealing with these emotions so that you can feel better in yourself and diversify your toolbox.


  • Eight: Respecting your body

Our bodies are truly amazing, and they deserve to be respected. After all, they do a lot for us! How can we expect to have a good relationship with food if we don’t have a good relationship with our bodies first?

If loving your body feels too far away now, intuitive eating will help you to accept your body as it is and appreciate everything it does for you.


  • Nine: Exercising because you enjoy it

We all know physical activity is good for us, but NOT when it becomes a regimen you feel trapped in and no longer enjoy.

Exercise should be something that brings you pleasure, not something you feel compelled to do to burn calories, or because that’s what diet culture has told you. Movement should be joyful, not punishing.


  • Ten: Incorporating gentle nutrition

Eating should of course be an enjoyable experience, but it should also nourish you and provide you with all the nutrition you need.

Once you have fully understood and appreciated all these key principles, then you can work on incorporating intuitive eating into your life with the right skills and knowledge to feed your body and your brain. Gentle nutrition is a dynamic integration between your internal body wisdom and external health guidelines.


Will intuitive eating help me lose weight?

When you begin your intuitive eating journey, it’s important to be in the right mindset and to do it for the right reasons – not because that’s what diet culture says you should be doing to lose weight.

During the process of intuitive eating, our bodies will often return to their natural set points and stop fluctuating above or below: recent research supports this idea and shows that intuitive eating has been associated with weight stability3.

Intuitive eating will help you nurture a positive relationship with food, improve your body image, enable you to make more informed food choices, and empower you as a person – you may not lose weight if this is where your body wants to happily sit, but you will gain so much more!

Here at Embody Health London, we can support you on your intuitive eating journey. Get in touch with us now at [email protected] to find out more!


Robin Wileman, EHL Dietitian Student Intern





1 Stewart, T., Martin, C. and Williamson, D., 2022. The Complicated Relationship between Dieting, Dietary Restraint, Caloric Restriction, and Eating Disorders: Is a Shift in Public Health Messaging Warranted?. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, [online] 19(1), p.491. Available at:

2 Tylka, T., Calogero, R. and Daníelsdóttir, S., 2019. Intuitive eating is connected to self-reported weight stability in community women and men. Eating Disorders, [online] 28(3), pp.256-264. Available at:

3 Warren, J., Smith, N. and Ashwell, M., 2017. A structured literature review on the role of mindfulness, mindful eating and intuitive eating in changing eating behaviours: effectiveness and associated potential mechanisms. Nutrition Research Reviews, [online] 30(2), pp.272-283. Available at:


What is emotional eating therapy and how does it work?

emotional eating

Emotional eating is normal and okay until it interferes with your quality of life


Emotional eating is a common ‘problem’ that affects millions of people worldwide. It is often triggered by stress and other negative emotions such as guilt, shame, anger, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, fear, and depression.

In fact, over 40% of people reported eating more when stressed1.

Emotional eating therapy is a form of psychotherapy that can help clients identify their own triggers and develop coping mechanisms to manage them. It teaches clients skills in recognising and challenging thoughts and behaviours associated with emotional eating.

This article will discuss everything you need to know about emotional eating therapy and what you can do to help overcome emotional eating.


What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating is a way of coping with emotions that might be hard to deal with. It can involve eating foods that seem to make you feel temporarily better, even if they don’t satisfy your hunger.

Unfortunately, this can lead to weight gain body distrust over time.


What is the root of emotional eating?

Emotional eating often stems from stress, boredom, or unpleasant feelings. If food becomes our primary coping mechanism, a habit is quickly formed. When we are stressed, our body releases chemicals such as cortisol, a hormone which has been shown to make us crave certain foods – particularly sugar, carbs, and fatty foods2.

So, when we’re feeling stressed, we tend to reach for these so-called comfort foods. When we eat emotionally, we are seeking to satisfy or deal with an emotion, not physical hunger.


What is emotional eating therapy?

Emotional eating therapy is a form of treatment that teaches people how to deal with their negative emotions in healthier ways. It’s targeted at people who struggle to control their food intake and eating habits and is based on this idea that emotional factors play a role in why people eat what they deem to be too much.

This approach focuses on helping clients learn to identify and understand their emotions, then develop the skills needed to manage them in ways that won’t lead to overeating or feeling uncomfortable in their body.

Emotional eating therapy aims to help patients live healthier lives by not only regulating their food intake but improving their overall mood and mental wellbeing.


So, how does it work?

Emotional eating therapy typically involves working with a therapist or specialist dietitian to identify which emotions trigger food cravings and why. Once your thoughts and feelings surrounding food have been addressed, the therapist or dietitian can help you develop personalised strategies for managing those emotions.

This might include mindfulness exercises, learning how to cope with cravings, letting go of binge guilt, group therapy, and practising methods for regulating food intake.

It’s based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, a well-established method used by health professionals worldwide. CBT focuses on changing unhealthy thinking patterns and replacing them with more productive ones, teaching people to think differently about themselves and their bodies.

Studies have demonstrated that emotional eating therapy is an effective treatment option3 and could help you break the cycle of emotional eating once and for all.


Top three tips for tackling emotional eating

Tip one

We know it’s tempting but don’t restrict your food intake. This often backfires (not that you need us telling you that!). Instead of skipping meals or trying to cut down on what you’re having, aim to eat balanced meals and snacks more frequently throughout the day.


Tip two

Be mindful of your feelings and practice not reacting. Remember, we are aiming to change your habits so the next time you feel like you’re about to binge or eat for emotional reasons, set a timer for 10 minutes, close your eyes and breathe.  If you still end up bingeing or eating for emotional reasons once the timer goes off, that’s okay!

The aim here is to build in a pause so you can give yourself the opportunity to slow down, do a mindful check-in and ask yourself “is food what I really need, or do I need something else?”


Tip three

If you choose to eat for emotional reasons, then let the food soothe you. Food is innately comforting, and you have permission to eat for emotional reasons. The trick here is to give yourself permission to eat for comfort and then allow the food to soothe you. This is a game changer for most of our clients so let us know how you go with this one by sending us a message on Instagram. Our handle is @embodyhealthlondon_

Would you like more support from a specialist dietitian who gets it? Here at EHL, we work with clients every single day to help them reclaim their power around food and to nurture a healthy relationship with their body. 


Robin Wileman, EHL Dietitian Student Intern



1 Emotional Eating Definition, Treatment & Causes. (2020, September 30). MedicineNet.

2 Geiker, N. R. W., Astrup, A., Hjorth, M. F., Sjödin, A., Pijls, L., & Markus, C. R. (2017). Does stress influence sleep patterns, food intake, weight gain, abdominal obesity and weight loss interventions and vice versa? Obesity Reviews, 19(1), 81–97. 

3 Carroll, E. A., Czerwinski, M., Roseway, A., Kapoor, A., Johns, P., Rowan, K., & Schraefel, M. C. (2013). Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating. 2013 Humaine Association Conference on Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction, 252–257. 



7 causes of unexplained weight gain

weight gain

Top tips on how to cope with unexplained weight gain


Weight gain can happen for a variety of different reasons – some of them more obvious than others. However, it’s important to note that despite what you might think, this isn’t always a bad thing!

Although society will often try to tell us that weight gain should be avoided at all costs, it’s often a completely normal, natural process. Gaining weight doesn’t mean that you should jump onto a crash diet or run to the gym immediately – sometimes there are other factors at play that you may want to consider.

This article will discuss some of the potential causes for unexplained weight gain, and why our health is not defined by the number on the scales.


Why am I gaining weight?

  1. Emotional factors

Emotional factors such as stress, anxiety or depression can play a role in weight gain. When people are experiencing these unpleasant emotions, they may use food as a coping mechanism: this is known as emotional eating and is much more common than you might think.

  1. Hormonal imbalances

Hormones are chemicals which regulate many aspects of our daily lives, including weight. When our hormones are out of balance, it can trigger physiological changes within the body such as an increased appetite and decreased energy levels.

  1. Low thyroid function

If the thyroid isn’t working correctly, the body will struggle to burn calories and may be inclined to store them instead. This can manifest itself as around 5-10lb of weight gain1, or more depending on the severity of the hypothyroidism.

  1. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a condition affecting the hormones that control ovulation, but it can also impact insulin and androgen, both of which can lead to weight gain. Up to 80% of women with PCOS reported being overweight2, making it an extremely common side effect of PCOS.

  1. Insulin resistance

One potential cause of unexplained weight gain is insulin resistance, where the body’s cells become resistant to the hormone insulin. Insulin is an essential part of glucose metabolism, so if your body can no longer respond to insulin effectively then you may begin to gain weight.

  1. Physical activity levels

If you have been less physically active than usual, your body is not going to be using up as much energy as normal, meaning more of the nutrients you take in will be stored instead. Alternatively, if you’ve been doing a lot of resistance training, you’ll be building up muscle mass, which is around 15% denser than fat mass3!

  1. Other lifestyle factors such as drinking or smoking

Drinking and smoking can contribute towards weight gain over time. More specifically, drinking in excess can lead to weight gain, whilst stopping smoking has the same effect – this is because smoking is an appetite suppressant.


When should I see a doctor or health care professional?

If you start to notice an increase in your weight despite your nutritional intake and physical activity level staying the same, it may be the case that you have an underlying medical condition causing you to gain weight.

If you are experiencing any other unusual symptoms alongside this weight gain, you may want to consider seeing a doctor for further investigations.

For example, changes in mood, appetite or energy levels, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, increased thirst or more frequent urination may indicate that there is something else going on.


What should I do if I start to gain weight unexpectedly?



Don’t panic! Weight gain is completely normal, and this doesn’t mean you should be trying to lose it.

Weight gain might be a sign that you are becoming more comfortable in your body, or that your muscles are growing to keep you fit and strong.

Maybe you’re going through a big life change, such as pregnancy or menopause, and this is causing natural fluctuations to your weight.

Whatever the reason, you don’t need to worry unless you are experiencing other symptoms that might indicate an underlying condition. If you are truly concerned and are feeling uncomfortable in your body, we urge you to book a free discovery call with a member of our team to investigate this further.



Consider what might be causing you to gain weight. If you think you may have a medical problem that is causing your weight gain, it might be worth checking in with your doctor to get to the bottom of it.

Weight gain can also be a side-effect of many different types of medication.

For example, individuals taking long-terms antidepressants are up to 85% likely to gain weight secondary to this4.

If you think you might be gaining weight because of a prescription medication, it could be a good idea to discuss with your GP whether this needs to be altered to discuss your concerns and expectations.



Embrace and accept your changing body. We are all human beings, after all – we’re not designed to say the same weight throughout our entire lifetime!

Sadly, weight stigma is still prevalent even currently, but the key thing to remember is this: you don’t need to be on a diet to be healthy.

Health comes in all shapes and sizes – gaining weight doesn’t change or define who you are as a person. Your weight is the least interesting thing about you!

Here at EHL, we’re here to smash diet culture and help you see your worth as more than a body! Our team of specialist dietitians can help you to build a healthy relationship with food and your body and guide you to becoming embodied.

Contact us now at [email protected] to start you journey towards food freedom!


Team EHL x

Robin Wileman, Student dietitian & EHL intern





1 American Thyroid Association (2019). Thyroid & Weight.

2 Sam, S. (2007). Obesity and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Obesity Management, 3(2), 69–73. 

3 Norman, J. (2018, August 24). But muscle is heavier than fat, right? – LifestylesFitness. Medium.,whereas%20fat%20tissue%20is%20just%200.92%20kg%2F%20litre

4 Uguz, F., Sahingoz, M., Gungor, B., Aksoy, F., & Askin, R. (2015). Weight gain and associated factors in patients using newer antidepressant drugs. General Hospital Psychiatry, 37(1), 46–48.