Intuitive Eating vs. Counting Calories?

I’ve seen many dietitians decide between using intuitive eating and counting calories with their clients.  Intuitive eating, coined by dietitian Evelyn Tribole, means separating the emotional and physical aspects of food and learning to eat entirely on physiological hunger and satiety cues (read this article for more information: Counting calories means, well, counting calories (food logs etc. – see previous post from a few days ago).  However, I view the two as not mutually exclusive.  When it comes to nutrition there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach that works nearly as well as individual customization.  

How do you know which one to use or whether you should use both?  First, it comes down to your goals.  Granted, many people are solely motivated by weight loss for physical appearance purposes.  Others realize that losing weight is the ticket to help them break free from hypertension medication, Type 2 diabetes medications, osteoarthritis knee pain etc. (the list goes on and on).  And there are also those who realize they better start engaging in resistance exercise and good eating to build muscle mass so they can lift their grandchild out of their crib safely.  
After writing down your specific goals, it is important to realize what works for you.  Does counting calories help hold you accountable or aggravate those nagging and deep rooting emotional eating issues that you cling on to during times of stress?  Is intuitive eating enough to help you gain the weight and muscle mass you need to get stronger after a round of chemo and radiation?  If your answers to these questions are not immediately evident, read more on intuitive eating and consider working with a dietitian who can help design an individual approach specifically for you.  Though there are many great group programs out there (I’ll cover these tomorrow), nothing beats a one-on-one setting to help you meet your goals.

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