Balancing Nutrition Science with Intuitive Eating

There’s been a bit of a discussion lately that supporting intuitive eating and health at every size is the equivalent to giving the middle finger to good nutrition. I’m here to assure you, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Kicking diets to the curb, ending restriction, and embracing true food freedom allows you to improve your nutrition without all the guilt and crazy rules dieting creates. You also get to embrace nutrition from the perspective of healing your relationship with food.

balancing nutrition with intuitive eating

Great nutrition is balance over time.

First, great nutrition is a balancing act. It isn’t black and white. Our needs fluctuate depending on our activity levels, genetics, age, gender, stress levels and a multitude of other health conditions that alter our needs for basic nutrition. This fluctuation is normal and a fully scripted meal plan will never account for these variations. Intuitive eating does. When you learn to listen to your body signals you learn to vary your food intake based on you individual needs. Have you ever had a craving for more protein, or maybe a big bowl of pasta? That’s your body’s way of saying “Hey girl, I need a little more of…”. 

We don’t just throw out nutrition science when we embrace intuitive eating. That’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Intuitive eating allows you to create individualized nutrition.
— Dr. Claudia T. Felty, RD

Blood work tells so much more than weight. 

This is a big one for me. The reality is I can’t tell your health status just by looking at you. Even the most experienced practitioners know we always need to dig a little deeper. Lab work allows us to do just that. Measuring your cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, inflammation markers, nutrient status, and hormone levels give a much clearer picture of how your body is working than weight alone. The good news is taking lab measurements allows you to use nutrition science as a tool to help your body instead of a weapon used against it. Labs can work hand in hand with an intuitive eating practice. Imagine this, you have your labs drawn and we find out your cholesterol is high and your blood glucose is elevated into pre-diabetic ranges. Using intuitive eating we would find foods you actually like and look forward to eating while improving your blood markers. You learn to become more in tune with your body signals. This allows you to binge less on foods you previously feared and kept off limits until you couldn’t take it any longer. You end the cycle of yo-yo dieting that makes your blood markers worse each time you lose and gain weight. You find balance in eating again. 

Supplements can remove the stress of meeting nutrient needs. 

Using supplements in a balanced and nutrient dense diet is not something I shy away from. While I always want you to maximize your nutrition through the foods you eat, I also understand that supplements can play a key role in intuitive eating. When you’re learning to listen to your body again they help you meet your vitamin and mineral needs, allowing you to drop the stress of hitting micros and macros when choosing foods. When choosing supplements an individualized approach is always best. There’s research (pretty cool research in my opinion) that shows supplementation can assist with chronic conditions like diabetes, fatigue, depression, heart disease, arthritis and a range of other conditions. 

As a non-diet dietitian, I help you use nutrition as a tool that helps you heal your body and your relationship with food. Supporting food freedom doesn’t equal eating cake for every meal for the rest of your life. What is means is that you can have cake and not feel bad or guilty over your choice because you know that you’ve listened to what your body needs and your fueling yourself with good nutrition and self compassion. You know that you’ll have cake until it doesn’t feel like the right choice for your body anymore, and the fact that you know those signals allows you to live your live free from food stress. 

Till next time,

Dr. Claudia T. Felty