Image by Debbie Digioia
One of the reasons I looked forward to reviewing The Intuitive Eating Workbook: 10 Principles for Nourishing a Health Relationship with Food by Elyse Resch, MS, RDN and Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN is because I remember so clearly when their first book, Intuitive Eating, arrived on the eating disorders’ scene in 1995. Although I’d pretty much turned around my wildly disordered eating by then, I was still scouting out books on the subject to make sure that I’d covered all the bases. Intuitive Eating reinforced how much I never wanted to diet again and laid out the basic principles of appetite-attunement in a relatable way that helped me easily explain the process to others.
The authors’ new Workbook expands on their original premise: Giving up weight-loss dieting and connecting—really connecting—to body signals involved in eating is the only way to establish a permanent, positive relationship with food and your body. The book first explains the perils of dieting to mental and physical health, then goes on to describe the negative impact of weight-cycling, which is the process of losing and gaining back weight repeatedly. Right up front, the book explains and encourages the necessity for self-compassion, an essential ingredient in forging a loving relationship with oneself.
The next few chapters cover the basics of appetite attunement: hunger, making peace with food preferences, beliefs about eating/food/appearance, and how to know when you’re full or satisfied. If you aren’t sure when you’re hungry, don’t know what you want to eat, are still hung up on “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts,” and want to learn ways to identify when you’ve had enough food, these chapters will teach you step by step. For those of you who are emotional eaters, the authors stress the importance of self-care, which includes getting enough sleep, not feeling deprived, and balancing work and play in such a way as to feel nourished by each.
The latter part of the book focuses on the benefits of not comparing your body to other bodies, the importance of feeling comfortable in the clothes you wear, the value of positive self-talk, and ways to more fully appreciate your body no matter what its size or weight. Right in step with the rest of their philosophy on attunement is their chapter on exercise and how it needs to feel right for your body and not like a chore that you “must do” to get in shape or lose weight.
Having written a workbook myself, I greatly appreciate the thought and care that the authors put into the written exercises they provide. These include several assessments; excellent questions about eating habits and, moreover, how life impacts on eating and activity; and useful scales that make practicing intuitive eating concrete and accessible. Written by two dieticians, the workbook wouldn’t be complete without a chapter on what to eat entitled “Gentle Nutrition” which helps you decide what foods would be good for your body rather than telling you what you should or shouldn’t eat.
Whether you’re tired of dieting and looking for a new approach to stop fighting with food or are seeking more direction on how to become a “normal” eater, The Intuitive Eating Workbook will give you the guidance you need to meet your eating and health goals.