Beyond the Scale: Embracing Body Positivity and Intuitive Eating for Long-Term Wellness

Intuitive eating

The numbers on the scale have held far too much power over our sense of self-worth for too long. As a society, we’re obsessed with pursuing thinness at any cost, restricting foods, and over-exercising in hopes of attaining society’s unrealistic beauty ideals. This toxic diet culture has led down the path of chronic dieting, disordered eating habits, poor body image, and decreased quality of life.

Isn’t it time we shift the focus away from the scale and outward appearance to what truly matters – overall wellbeing, self-acceptance, inner peace, and joy? The principles of intuitive eating and body positivity aim to do just that by encouraging:

Rejecting the Diet Mentality

Chronic dieting is physically and mentally exhausting. Plus, it often leads to weight cycling, binge eating tendencies, and decreased self-esteem. In contrast, intuitive eating teaches us to let go of external food rules and the diet mentality. We need to learn to trust our inner wisdom when it comes to eating.

When you get too strict with calories and food rules, it’s mentally draining. It’s like trying to hold your breath – you might be able to do it for a little while, but eventually your body rebels. When it rebels, you have intense food cravings, feelings of deprivation, and even binge eating. Plus, you feel like a failure when those cravings hit, or you break your diet rules. On top of that, research shows that strict dieting causes our metabolism to slow down over time, so you regain weight, leading to that yo-yo effect.

That’s where intuitive eating comes in. Instead of following external food rules, it teaches you to become reconnected with your own inner wisdom around eating. You learn to honor your hunger, nourish your body with a balance of nutritious foods, and respect your fullness cues. The focus shifts away from weight control and toward developing a trusting, healthy relationship with food and your body.

Many people find that intuitive eating allows them to ditch the exhausting diet mentality, stop overthinking every bite, and enjoy food again in a balanced way. It helps boost self-esteem because you start trusting yourself. Over time, most people find their weight stabilizes at a natural level. There’s freedom in no longer battling your body!

Honoring Your Hunger

Rather than ignoring hunger signals, intuitive eating encourages us to pay attention and respond appropriately to hunger cues. Nourishing your body when hungry can prevent overeating later. We must give ourselves unconditional permission to eat rather than waiting for “cheat days.”

No matter how much willpower you thought you had, if you put off eating for too long, you’d end up ravenous and making not-so-great choices out of desperation. Intuitive eating teaches you to tune into your body’s signals. Now when you first start to feel those early signs that you need nourishment – a little stomach growl or lightheadedness – you’ve learned not to override them. You’ll take that as your cue to go ahead and eat something satisfying.

Even if it’s not a typical mealtime, giving your body what it needs in the moment prevents things from escalating into desperately shoveling food in your mouth later because you’re so famished! When you know another meal or snack is coming soon, it’s easier to eat slowly, savor each bite, and stop when you feel content rather than stuffed.

Intuitive eating gives you unconditional permission to eat rather than making certain foods forbidden and setting up this “on/off diet” mentality. That kind of black-and-white thinking about food inevitably makes you obsessed more about when you can finally eat this or that. Now you know you can have cookies or chips or whatever when you want them, not just on “cheat days,” which makes them less tempting.

Making Peace with All Foods

No food is inherently “good” or “bad.” When you categorize foods as such, it can lead to intense cravings, feelings of deprivation, binge eating, and guilt. Intuitive eating promotes body wisdom to determine which foods make your body feel best. The key is moderation of all foods.

Intuitive eating teaches that no foods are inherently good or bad – it’s all about how you approach them. A slice of cake isn’t nutritionally the same as a salad, sure, but they both have a place. When you give yourself unconditional permission to have a little of any food you truly desire, without attaching judgment to it, it takes away that crazy psychological power and intensity.

Now if you decide you want ice cream, even if you just had some last night, you could enjoy a small serving, savor it slowly, and determine if your body feels good afterwards or if you overdid it. You use that as guidance going forward rather than inflexible rules about when you “should” be able to eat certain treats. It’s freeing to ditch the diet mentality!

Moderation ends up happening naturally when you tune into your body’s wisdom and fullness signals. No more deprivation leading to binges. Just listening and honoring what your body really needs. That’s intuitive.

Exercising Feel-Good Movement

Movement should not be a means of manipulating weight. Rather, exercise should promote overall health and be enjoyable. When we engage in physical activities that connect us to our bodies and that we genuinely delight in, we are more likely to stick with them long-term.

Intuitive exercise encourages you to reconnect with movement that makes both your mind and body feel good. The goal becomes supporting your health and wellbeing rather than judging yourself on calories burned or pounds lost.

When you intentionally choose physical activities that connect you to your body in the present moment – walking outside in nature, dancing with friends, or playing a sport you love – it doesn’t feel like a chore. You look forward to exercise because you enjoy the experience itself.

The remarkable thing is that when movement leaves you energized and happy, you naturally want to keep doing it. But if you dread another exercise session, it’s hard to sustain that motivation.

Practicing Self-Care

Nurturing you through adequate sleep, stress management, saying “no,” meaningful connections, acts of self-compassion, and other forms of self-care helps you establish a healthy relationship with yourself. This inner peace empowers us to tune into our mind and body wisdom when it comes to food and movement choices. Makes sense, right?

Embracing Body Diversity

All bodies deserve respect, not just thin ones that meet unrealistic beauty standards. The body positivity movement is trying to get us to celebrate all bodies, not just the ones we see in magazines or on TV that show this one version of “perfect.” It encourages us to move away from putting people down if they don’t match an unrealistic ideal. Instead, it encourages gratitude for all the cool things your unique body allows you to do and experience.

The research also questions if dieting really works in the long run for weight loss or health. In fact, studies find that intuitive eating, where you listen to your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals, is tied to lower BMIs, less disordered eating patterns, better body image, and improved mood compared to dieting.

We also can’t expect friends and family to instantly understand why this new body-positive, anti-diet approach is so much healthier. Diet culture was all around us for so long! If loved ones seem confused, inform them compassionately about this paradigm shift.

Most of all, go easy on yourself on this journey of breaking free from disordered patterns with food and negative body image. It’s a process of moving toward self-love and self-care after years of being given messages that kept us feeling “less-than” satisfied.” As we learn to trust and care for our whole, wonderful selves, our relationship with food, exercise, and body image will slowly transform too. Be patient and speak kindly to yourself if you slip up; change takes time.


  • “Exploring the Body Positivity Movement | Psychology Today.” 27 Nov. 2022, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fit-femininity/202211/exploring-the-body-positivity-movement.
  • “Learning to eat intuitively: A qualitative exploration of the ….” 01 Feb. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360478/.
  • “Intuitive Eating | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of ….” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/intuitive-eating/.

Related Articles:

Say Goodbye to Dieting: 5 Reasons to Embrace Intuitive Eating

Can Intuitive Eating Help You Lose Weight?

5 Ways to Curb Mindless Overeating

5 Things to Do When Your Eating Habits Get Off Track

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