Book Review: Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

I’m carrying around 20 – 30 extra kilograms of bodyweight, and my plan to get rid of it was a fairly standard one: starve myself as long as I can manage. Turns out the science says this is incredibly bad for you, and that it is unlikely to succeed in the long run. The premise of this book is that my body can tell me when, what and how much to eat, if only I would learn to listen to it again.The authors, Tribole and Resch, are both registered dieticians, with practices in California. Their concept “Intuitive Eating” grew out of their clinical experience, and since its publication in 1995 has been the subject of a large number of scientific studies; their method holds up.The early part of the book introduces the concept of Intuitive Eating, and in making the case for it, highlights the growing body of scientific evidence showing how harmful dieting can be: dieting is starvation, and if we starve for long enough instinct takes over and we sort it out (the eventual binge eating); meanwhile our metabolism has slowed down to cope with the lack of resources, making successive diets harder and harder.A lot of the book deals with the psychology of food, giving oneself permission to eat when hungry, and equally, to leave food on the plate when not hungry. If we can remember that there will be more food later if we get hungry again, there is no imperative to eat more than we need now. I think they did a good job of weaving this through the whole book, gently, constantly reminding the reader that there is no need to place judgements on “good” food versus “bad” food, and no need to worry about what other people think of our eating!All in all, the authors make a compelling case for abandoning dieting, understanding what drives our current over-eating, and then learning to listen to our bodies’ signals instead. It will probably take me longer to get back to a healthy weight, than through starvation, but I think my odds of success are higher, especially in the long run.

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