Listening to Your Body: How to Incorporate Intuitive Eating

By Ashley Danielson, RDN, LD

Wake up. Check. Eat breakfast. Check…maybe? Immediately get to work. Check. Down your cup (or three) or coffee. Check. Lunch? Eat quickly at your desk. Check. Work some more, head home, down your dinner because there are 10 things on your to-do list tonight, and then try to get some sleep. Check, check, check, check.


That may or may not feel like a normal day to you, and even though we don’t wish our days to fly by, they can. When we create stress and frantic time frames, our eating habits can get out of whack. To add on, when we are trying to eat healthier options, but our schedules make us reach for other items or an extreme amount of food in one mealtime, these actions can create thoughts that tend to bring us down. Insert Intuitive Eating. Evelyn Tribole, Registered Dietitian, coined this term and wrote a book on it in 1995. Intuitive Eating, or IE, is evidenced-based (which means there is a significant amount of completed, scientific evidence) and focuses on 10 principles to create a positive relationship between the mind and the body in order to meet physical and physiological needs.


  1. Reject the Diet Mentality. Millions of people try new diets all the time for quick weight loss. In reality, diets are not a permanent lifestyle change and if we constantly try to tackle a new diet every couple of months, we will never be able to truly listen to our body.
  2. Honor Your Hunger. Feed your body with energy. That means combining macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates – yes, we need them)! If you feel hungry, check in with your emotions. It is easy to push away a hunger feeling because you feel guilty, but when you don’t honor your hunger, the typical outcome is that you may overeat later on.
  3. Make Peace with Food. Brussel sprouts are good for you, and milk chocolate is bad for you, right? When we label foods, we restrict anything that we believe is bad. But, when you finally “give in” to that bad food, you may end up eating an extreme amount, bringing on that cycle of guilt and restriction.
  4. Challenge the Food Police. Two words: diet culture. The world has created this thought process that we should police how we eat and make us feel guilty if we don’t eat the “right” way.
  5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor. Eating food should provide pleasure and satisfaction. It should taste good, and it should feel good to put nutritional food in your body. Set a tone and a positive environment so you can tune in to see how you feel when you eat.
  6. Feel Your Fullness. As we eat, our bodies send us signals – when we need more, and when we are full. This includes eating slowly and chewing our food more than just a couple of times. Next time you sit down to eat a meal, try to pause in the middle of it. Ask yourself how your food tastes and what your current hunger level is.
  7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness. Do you find yourself restricting food? This can go hand in hand with emotional eating, which can be brought on by anxiety, boredom, stress or anything else that you may be going through. Instead of using food to solve the problem, dig a little deeper to find that underlying issue. Once you are able to recognize it, find ways to resolve your issues. Yoga, anyone?
  8. Respect Your Body. This is a big one. Respecting your body will make you feel better, more confident, and more loving towards y As Tribole puts it, “Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally futile (and uncomfortable) to have a similar expectation about body size”. Love yourself.
  9. Movement – Feel the Difference. Since we are all yogis here, we all know what it is like to move, and the amazing effects of being on your mat. But, we all have different motivations to come to our mat. I know that my reason for coming to my mat for the first time is different than what it is now, but it is all connected. Feel the difference. Instead of focusing on setting your Apple Watch to find out how many calories you are burning, feel how moving makes you feel.
  10. Honor Your Health – Gentle Nutrition. Think about your health, but also think about the food that makes you feel wholesome. Where can you find that common ground? Just because you ate differently today doesn’t mean that you are unhealthy. Progress, not perfection, is what counts.


As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I talk with so many different people who are moving through different paths in their lives. My goal is to help them feel good, enjoy food and work with them to get them where they want to be. Part of that is incorporating Intuitive Eating. Instead of worrying about the last 10 pounds to shed, what diet is the most popular, or how “clean” you can eat, let’s try to focus on eating for your body. Maybe you take one of these principles and try to apply it. When that works, try adding another. Don’t become discouraged; our lives can be roller coasters and most of the time, we really don’t have control over what is going to happen next. So, continue to enjoy your food and listen to your body. Then, continue to come to your mat and see how that changes the expectations that you have of yourself, day in, and day out.


Speaking of listening to your body, the recipe below sounds quite fabulous to me:


Lemon Basil Marinated Salmon


2 (12-oz). pkg. skinless sockeye salmon fillets (fresh or frozen)

½ c. apple juice

¼ c. olive oil

1 ½ tbsp. soy sauce

1 ½ tbsp. honey

2 tsp. lemon zest, divided

1 clove (s) garlic, finely chopped

1 small red onion, sliced

¼ c. fresh basil leave, plus 1 teaspoon chopped and additional for garnish

1 lemon, cut into thin slices, plus additional for garnish

¼ c salted butter, melted

1 (12-oz). container Hy-Vee Short Cuts Brussel Sprouts

1 c. grape tomatoes

2 c. cooked wild rice, for serving



  1. Place salmon in a large resealable plastic bag. Combine apple juice, oil, soy sauce, honey, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and garlic. Stir in red onion and 1/4 cup basil leaves. Pour marinade over salmon in bag. Add lemon slices. Seal bag. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly grease a sheet pan. Remove salmon from marinade; discard marinade and solids. Combine butter, remaining 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and chopped basil. Microwave Brussels sprouts in 2 tablespoons water, covered, on HIGH 3 minutes. Add salmon, sprouts, and tomatoes to prepared pan; brush with half of butter mixture. Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until salmon flakes with a fork (145 degrees). Serve salmon with rice, sprouts, and tomatoes. Drizzle with remaining butter mixture and, if desired, garnish with additional lemons slices and basil leaves.


Questions about Intuitive Eating? Feel free to contact me, or hop onto the website for more information on how to integrate IE into your daily life: 





The purpose of this blog is solely for guidance and enjoyment.The information included on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider before altering your diet, changing your exercise regimen, starting any new treatment or making changes to existing treatment.


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About Kirk: 

Kirk was working 80-hour weeks and wearing his shoulders as earrings when he found yoga in 2005. Forever the competitive athlete, he loved the physicality of yoga. When the spiritual and philosophical side of yoga were exposed to him, Kirk was hooked. Yoga provided him with what other activities couldn’t -- the ability to foster the benefits of practice both on and off of the mat. Yoga was something that Kirk could bring into all aspects of his life. 

Kirk knows that yoga can be intimidating, so he crafts a class that is playful and inviting, while still being challenging and safe. His creatively planned classes build strength and flexibility in your body and mind while establishing clarity, giving you more confidence to overcome obstacles in your life, and keeping you injury-free. His classes are themed with a message that is relatable and will inspire you to take it with you off your mat. Kirk has been teaching yoga since 2008 and lead his first teacher training in 2012. Where Kirk truly shines is in coaching, developing and bringing out the best in others.  

Kirk enjoys traveling (40+ countries to date!), snowboarding, and cherishes time with his wife and two daughters. 

About Christen: 

Christen Bakken’s yoga journey began in 1998 in a Bikram studio that provided a safe and secure place to practice. She saw the yoga mat as a place to remember her purpose and a place to play. As she continued her studies and began her journey to teaching in 2006, Christen infused yoga classes with devotion and the yoga mat became a place of personal transformation and healing. Her classes are filled with laughter, song, sweat, and usually heart openers. In 2013, Christen began training yoga teachers. This is the place where she finds the most joy - in community with folks looking to grow and be of greater service in their homes, on their mats, and in the world. Over the years, she has led trainings in Denver, the Midwest, Florida, and now abroad. She has trained in continuing education modules, 200-hour, 300-hour, and 500-hour programs. Beyond the mat, Christen is a passionate adventure seeker - she loves to bike, snowboard, and spend time with her husband and pups. She sees each day as a blessing and hopes to remind all who interact with her of this truth.  

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Listening to Your Body: How to Incorporate Intuitive Eating Info