A guest blog by dietetic intern Darrien Harris MS
Intuitive eating is a practice, usually accessible farther along in eating disorder recovery, that can help to heal body-mind disconnect by using instinct, emotion, and rational thought to increase awareness of physical and emotional needs. 1
One of the 10 principles of intuitive eating is interoceptive awareness, the process of recognizing and processing internal, physical sensations that can exist as hunger, satiety, rapid heartbeat, or the rush of heat felt during panic. Interoception promotes conscious awareness of these sensations through attunement or being “in tune” with oneself and one’s body 1,2. In recovery this means asking questions like “where in my body do I feel hunger, fullness, or stress?”.
The practice of interoceptive awareness ultimately helps cultivate a deeper trust in one’s body, which is essential to be able to recover from a dysfunctional relationship to food.
People who practice interoceptive awareness have been shown to display increased well-being and self-confidence, less disordered eating habits, a more positive self-image, and a better relationship with food. 1,2
One simple way to practice interoceptive awareness and increase body attunement is by trying to detect your heartbeat without touch or by following your breath in your body.
Yoga is also powerful way to practice interoceptive awareness.3,5 When practiced with full presence and internal connection, yoga offers the opportunity to increase body connection through mind-body awareness. Each breath, pose, and meditation promotes the body’s innate wisdom allowing one to recognize, process, and trust internal sensations.3,4,5 In this way, yoga facilitates interoception, by promoting awareness of the whole self: body, mind, and soul self .
1. Tribole, E. Intuitive Eating Workbook: Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy
Relationship with Food. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.; 2017.
2. Herbert BM, Blechert J, Hautzinger M, Matthias E, Herbert C. Intuitive eating is
associated with interoceptive sensitivity. Effects on body mass index. Appetite. 2013;70:22-30. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2013.06.082.
3. Dittmann KA, Freedman MR. Body Awareness, Eating Attitudes, and Spiritual Beliefs of
Women Practicing Yoga. Eating Disorders. 2009;17(4):273-292. doi:10.1080/10640260902991111.
4. Khalsa SS, Rudrauf D, Damasio AR, Davidson RJ, Lutz A, Tranel D. Interoceptive
awareness in experienced meditators. Psychophysiology. 2008;45(4):671-677. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8986.2008.00666.x.
5. Costin C & Schubert G. 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder. New York, NY:
W.W. Norton; 2017.