The Life Changing Benefits of Intuitive Eating

Hi friends!

It’s been a desire of mine for a while to open up this space to feature the expertise and stories of others. I want to make this a community that you can come back to and feel like someone “gets you” or take away a bit of information that will make your life better.

When Casey Voorhies Bonano reached out to me to write a piece on Intuitive Eating it was a big fat YES! In my twenties I suffered from an eating disorder and fell into the trap of yo yo dieting, restricting, over-exercising, and binge eating… intuitive eating saved me! Well a bunch of things saved me: personal growth, therapy, meditation, medication and journaling with my negative thoughts and emotions just to name a few. But when I was at a low point with my relationship with food and thought there was no way I could ever eat without fear, I learned the principle of intuitive eating and a light bulb was turned on. My relationship with food and fear changed from that moment on. So meet Casey!

Casey Voorhies Bonano RD, LD, CEDRD is a Texas Christian University graduate with a BS in Coordinated Dietetics. Her experience in various fields includes clinical, foodservice management, nutrition education, long-term care, diabetes, community, residential/PHP/IOP eating disorder treatment, and private practice. Not only does she have experience in these various areas but she has her own story to tell of how Intuitive Eating helped her overcome her fear and anxiety around food. Here is her story and expert knowledge of “The Life Changing Benefits of Intuitive Eating”.

I was sitting in front of the television with a bag of pretzels and a bag of M&Ms,

feeling nauseous and uncomfortably full. I had just completely ruined my appetite
for dinner by snacking and then snacking some more, and then before I knew it, the
snacks were almost completely gone. I remember thinking, “What just happened?” I
was in such a daze. I had been tracking calories on a well-known app for a couple
weeks, and then I had just thrown it all away for some food I didn’t even think was
that great. This is the moment I realized something had to change; what I was
currently doing was obviously not working. My attempts to lose weight were
actually backfiring. What I did not know then and I know now is that anytime you
restrict, you are more likely to over eat or binge eat as a result. This episode was a
complete product of restriction.

Can you relate? Does this story sound familiar?

Perhaps your story is one of yo-yo dieting, always losing and gaining the same 10,
20, 50, or 100 pounds. Maybe you allow your weight to hold you back from living
your life or achieving your goals. Perhaps your story is one of anxiety and fear
around food. You may have so many rules and regulations, you feel guilty no matter
what you eat. Maybe you think about food or your body all the time, you may even
use the word obsessed to describe your relationship with food and body. Healthy
eating feels out of reach, unrealistic, and with each attempt you end up hating your
body or yourself more and more. I understand what it’s like to live in a society
constantly telling you what to eat, how much to eat, and what your body should look
like. Our culture teaches us to be at war with our body.

It’s time to let it all go.

Fast forward in my story, and I was a college student in the last rotation of my
internship to become a fully licensed registered dietitian, and I was introduced to
Intuitive Eating. It clicked. This philosophy is what I actually believed about food,
weight, and my body. Intuitive Eating allowed me to heal my relationship with food
and let go of the diet beliefs that were not serving me.

What is Intuitive Eating?

Recently you may have heard more about Intuitive Eating. The philosophy is gaining
some serious traction, but it actually has been around since the early 1990’s. It all
began with a book written by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.
Intuitive Eating is a set of 10 principles, based and validated by scientific research,
which allows you to heal your relationship with food and make peace with your
body. Intuitive Eating allows you to be the expert of your own self, by connecting
mind and body, instead of following external rules or guidelines. It is a personal journey of honoring health that balances both your physical and psychological

What are the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating?

1. Reject the diet mentality

Stop dieting, restricting, following specific ways of eating, and let go of all external
rules around food and eating. Begin to figure out what is the best way to eat for you
based on your preferences and what makes you feel physically well.

2. Honor your hunger

We are born into this world with the innate ability to regulate our food intake.
Babies will cry until they are fed and will not eat when they are full. Over time we
lose track of this ability, but we can become reconnected with this mechanism. Our
physical hunger is our body’s way of telling us it needs fuel.

3. Make peace with food

Give yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods. I know, this may seem really
scary. You may even find yourself eating large quantities of foods you previously put
off limits. Eventually this honeymoon phase will end, and cravings will begin to
gradually subside. Once you can consume the food at all times, you will actually
want it less often.

4. Challenge the food police

The food police are everywhere. It could be friends, family, food packaging, media,
celebrities, influencers, or even random strangers. The food police are anyone or
anything promoting diet mentality. Set boundaries with friends and family, do a
complete social media cleanse, delete unhelpful apps, and unsubscribe from
anything promoting diet mentality.

5. Respect your fullness

Just as our body has a natural way to signal it needs food, our body also has a way to
signal it no longer needs food. Begin to slow down and observe the natural signs
that our body has had enough.

6. Discover the satisfaction factor

In order to feel satisfied with food we must slow down and savor what we are
eating. So often we speed through a meal not even tasting what we are eating.
Slowing down increases mindfulness, and when we increase mindfulness at meals
we become satisfied while being able to honor our fullness.

7. Honor your feelings without using food

Begin to differentiate between physical and emotional needs. Many describe using
food for emotional purposes. Find other ways to comfort, soothe, reward, and

8. Respect your body

Stop the war with your body. We all have specific genetics, which include our body
shape, and at a certain point we are fighting biology. Our bodies are meant to change
over time, and fighting that natural course is futile. Try to increase appreciation for
what the body allows you to do day-to-day, instead of how it looks.

9. Exercise- Feel the difference

Find ways to engage in joyful movement or exercise that feels more like play. Shift
your focus away from calorie burn, toning, or changing the way your body looks and
focus on feeling good in your body. Start small. All forms of movement are valid.

10. Honor your health- gentle nutrition

Eat in a way that makes you feel physically well. Remember that no one meal, snack,
day or even week will completely destroy your health. Focus on increasing healthful
behaviors, no matter how small the behaviors may seem.


What Intuitive Eating is Not

With the rise in popularity and media attention that Intuitive Eating is receiving,
there is no doubt people are co-opting the movement and using these principles in a
way that they were not meant to be used. First and foremost, Intuitive Eating is not a
diet. These principles are meant to guide you through the journey of understanding
how to meet your individual needs. They are not meant to be used as black and
white rules.

Intuitive Eating is not a tool for weight loss. Through the Intuitive Eating process
you may experience weight loss as a natural side effect, just as you may experience
weight maintenance or weight gain. It truly depends on what your behaviors with
food and exercise look like prior to this journey.

How to begin your Intuitive Eating Journey?

Begin by eating every 3 to 5 hours to regulate your metabolism and your hunger and
fullness cues. In a journal, make note of patterns in behavior or anything interesting.
Make sure you are eating carbohydrates, dietary fat, and protein at all your meals. If
you are hungry between meals, allow yourself to have snacks.

I know this process may seem overwhelming. You are undoing years of unhelpful
thinking about food. In my Dallas practice, I work one-on-one with women everyday
to navigate this process, but I just knew I had to make this process more accessible.
That’s why I wrote, The Food Freedom Guide – stop dieting for good, eat the food
you love, and feel confident in your body. In my new e-book, I walk you through the
process step-by-step. Each principle has a dedicated section with specific exercises
and concrete skills you can use in order to navigate this process. Food, weight and
body do not have to be this complicated. Let’s simplify it.

If you are interested in finding out more information about my e-book visit and use code CHRISSY to receive 20% off your purchase.
You can also find me on instagram @dallasnutritionalcounseling or my website

This is a piece written by Casey Voorhies Bonano for

*Photos by Katherine Elaine Photography

Casey Voorhies Bonano

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