Wellness·7 min read

10 Books That Make Intuitive Eating Easy to Digest

 Intuitive Eating: 10 Books That Make It Easy to Digest
Design: theSkimm | Images: Victory Belt Publishing BenBella Books St. Martin’s Essentials
Jul 20, 2022

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You’ve probably heard the phrase “intuitive eating.” And you can probably intuit what it means: listening to your body about what, when, and how much to eat. You know, like you did when you were a baby. Before you were exposed to diet culture (see: the idea that ‘thinner is better’) and family influence (think: being told to 'clean your plate'). 

Intuitive eating is intended to be a “a non-diet, self-care approach to nutrition, health, and wellbeing,” registered dietitian Alissa Rumsey told theSkimm for our explainer on fat stigma and diet culture. And having that kind of relationship with food likely means you’ll have to take a close look at external factors (think: diet fads, fat stigma, and filtered instagram selfies) that can interfere with eating for enjoyment, hunger, and energy.

Today, reading your body’s cues likely isn’t as simple as it sounds. And the concept of intuitive eating could take some time to digest. The good news: There are a number of books that could help you understand the practice. Which is meant to “help people get back in their bodies,” as Rumsey put it. And she’s written one of those books.

Rumsey, along with fat-positive registered dietitian nutritionist Kimmie Singh, helped us put together this list of intuitive eating and anti-diet culture reads that could help you on your journey to body awareness and healthful eating. 

“Unapologetic Eating: Make Peace with Food and Transform Your Life” by Alissa Rumsey

The founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness emphasizes in her book that if you’ve had a troubled relationship with food, that has nothing to do with you and everything to do with society.Let her explain. In a read that’s divided into four parts: Fixing (which helps explain what diet culture does to your brain), Allowing (she gets into the practice of mindfulness and intuitive eating), Feeling (how to honor and respect your body), and Growing (which ends with a chapter called “Embracing Your Power”). (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Decolonizing Wellness: A QTBIPOC-Centered Guide to Escape the Diet Trap, Heal Your Self-Image, and Achieve Body Liberation” by Dalia Kinsey

“Decolonizing Wellness” has journal prompts, affirmations, and practical tools that can help turn food into a source of pleasure. As opposed to a source of shame.It’s written by registered dietitian Dalia Kinsey — who also hosts the “Body Liberation For All” podcast — specifically for BIPOC and queer folks. But it has insight for everyone. Rumsey said that “as a white cisgender woman, it was a helpful read for me to better understand how to create more inclusivity in the anti-diet community.” (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

More than 25 years ago, registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch coined the term “intuitive eating.” Well, here’s their first bestseller on the topic (with some updates). In the book, they explain the science behind intuitive eating, encourage readers to respect their bodies, and talk about how to “feel your fullness.” (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America” by Virginia Sole-Smith

Journalist Sole-Smith started investigating nutrition, food, and the history of diet culture after her daughter had a medical crisis and stopped eating.She wound up writing a book all about why so many people can feel so guilty about the food they eat (or don’t eat).Her reporting for “The Eating Instinct”— and for her parenting and fatphobia Substack, “Burnt Toast” — is informative and accessible. On the way in 2023: her book “Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture.” (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat” by Aubrey Gordon

It’s time to talk about the F-word. This book, endorsed by Singh, is all about fatness and fat stigma. It’s not about intuitive eating per se, but about cultural attitudes around people in bigger bodies.Which can get in the way of feeling connected to your body and eating in a mindful way. It’s written by Gordon, who you might know as @yrfatfriend on social media, or as the co-host of the anti-diet podcast “Maintenance Phase.” (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Gentle Nutrition: A Non-Diet Approach to Health Eating” by Rachael Hartley

Eating intuitively doesn’t mean you need to ignore nutrition science. But it should give you space to be kinder to yourself and remember that “one snack or meal won’t make or break your health,” Hartley writes. Her book is also part cookbook. Think: It has more than 50 nutritious recipes. “Gentle Nutrition” is “one of the only nutrition books I feel totally confident recommending,” said Rumsey. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“How to Raise an Intuitive Eater: Raising the Next Generation With Food and Body Confidence” by Sumner Brooks and Amee Severson

Quick reminder: There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. But according to this book, you can embrace being an imperfect caregiver who cultivates a positive relationship with your family and food. “How to Raise an Intuitive Eater” lays out how to do that, all while preserving kids’ natural (intuitive) eating habits. Hint: By implementing a flexible and consistent feeding routine. Rumsey recommends it for parents, parents-to-be, and people who work with children. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness” by Da'Shaun L. Harrison

Although not specifically about intuitive eating, this book’s about fatphobia. And Singh suggested adding it to our list because stigma around weight can be a major barrier for many people looking to improve their relationship with food. “Belly of the Beast” is also about discrimination and disenfranchisement when it comes to race, disability, and gender. Harrison — a fat, Black, disabled, and nonbinary trans writer — challenges readers to unlearn a number of harmful cultural norms. Like the notion that “fat is bad.” (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“Eat to Love: A Mindful Guide to Transforming Your Relationship With Food, Body, and Life” by Jenna Hollenstein

If you’re into mindfulness, this might be your intuitive eating read. Hollenstein is a dietitian and meditation teacher who writes about freeing your mind from the negative associations you’ve had with eating and “feeling comfortable inhabiting the bodies we have right now.” Rumsey had good things to say about both “Eat to Love” and Hollenstein’s forthcoming title, “Intuitive Eating for Life,” out later this year. (Amazon, Bookshop)

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“End Emotional Eating: Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Cope with Difficult Emotions and Develop a Healthy Relationship to Food” by Jennifer Taitz

This is the therapist’s eating book. Specifically, it’s written by clinical psychologist Jennifer Taitz — who we’ve interviewed before — all about emotional intelligence and how to manage distress. So that you’re not “eating your feelings.” But rather, eating with intention. “End Emotional Eating” uses a science-backed behavioral therapy (see: DBT) to help readers have a better relationship with food. Another book of hers: “How to Be Single and Happy.” (Amazon, Bookshop)

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