What is intuitive eating? What is it not? Why is diet culture a cult and how can you remove yourself from it so that you can live a peaceful, happier, and satisfied life with food and your body? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about intuitive eating with expert Elyse Resch. 


Elyse Resch, MS, is a private practice nutritionist with forty-two years of experience, specializing in eating disorders, Intuitive Eating, and Health at Every Size. She is the co-author of Intuitive Eating, now in its 4th edition, the Intuitive Eating Workbook, and The Intuitive Eating Card Deck—50 Bite-Sized Ways to Make Peace with Food.

Elyse is also the author of The Intuitive Eating Workbook for Teens and The Intuitive Eating Journal—Your Guided Journey for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food and a chapter contributor to The Handbook of Positive Body Image and Embodiment.

Her philosophy embraces the goal of reconnecting with one’s internal wisdom about eating and developing body liberation. She is a social justice advocate and holds the belief that all bodies deserve dignity and respect.

Visit Intuitive Eating and Elyse Resch's website. Connect on Instagram.


  • What is intuitive eating?
  • What intuitive eating isn’t 
  • “Diet culture is a cult”
  • Find peace

What is intuitive eating?  

There’s a standard definition that it’s a self-care, self-compassionate process to reconnect one with that internal wisdom that we’re born with because most babies are born with, you know, all the knowledge they need to have about eating … That’s a great definition … But it doesn’t really tell you what intuitive eating is! (Elyse Resch) 
There is, of course, a lot of information out there about what things are and aren’t. Elyse is an expert in intuitive eating and hears the above-mentioned definition a lot, but to her, it doesn't fully encapsulate what intuitive eating means.  While she was writing her book and publishing chapters in others, she worked on her definition of intuitive eating to try to fully explain its core meaning. 
I call [intuitive eating] a dynamic interplay of instinct, emotion, and thought, and what’s behind that. (Elyse Resch) 
Elyse was reading Peter Levine’s book Waking the Tiger, which explains three parts of the human brain: 
  • Instinct: the reptilian brain based on survival, without feeling or thinking 
  • Limbic: in mammals, the part of the brain that provides and controls feelings and social behaviors
  • Neocortex: only so far in humans, the part of the brain responsible for thinking, thoughts, and rationality 
To me, an intuitive eater and intuitive eating is about taking into consideration these three parts; what our instincts tell us … Looking at how our emotions might impact our instincts … We have to take the thinking part to calm our emotions … Even if our emotions or illness are interfering with the instinct for hunger signals. (Elyse Resch) 

What intuitive eating isn’t 

As Elyse explains there are ways in which intuitive eating has been changed to mean different things or to be used in different ways which reduce or impact its life-changing approach.  Intuitive eating is a dynamic interplay, so when people lean too far on one side or the other, it becomes something else. According to Elyse, intuitive eating is not: 
  • Just about hunger cues and fullness cues 
  • About reducing emotions or eating without emotions 
  • Eating a full free-for-all 
That’s very reductionist. Yes, we need to make peace with food and we need to have the freedom to choose to eat what we feel is going to satisfy us, and - not but - and we also want to look at how our bodies are feeling. (Elyse Resch)

“Diet culture is a cult”

You are engaging in an oppressive activity when you look at weight, both on yourself and others, as the one thing that is connected to someone’s value.  Diet culture is everywhere; in social media, films, music, advertising, and so much more. It makes sense that after a while you will begin to believe these messages, but they are not true, and they only serve to make you doubt and dislike yourself so that you will buy into the industry. 
I understand that you want to lose weight. Of course, you live in this culture, how could you have avoided it? It’s a cult … Diet culture is a cult … I get it. So, tell me about your life? Tell me about how much of your life has been stolen by dieting. How has that [actually] worked for you? (Elyse Resch) 
Fatphobia is a way to degenerate certain people and elevate others, and it’s rolled into a massive industry that specifically preys on your insecurities - or even creates insecurities for you that you didn’t have before - just to sell you a product that’s bound to fail.  Get out of the cult of diet culture so that you can live your life unburdened by issues that are make-believe to get to your money. 

Find peace

Commit to doing this work for yourself because it can - and does - bring you a sense of peace. To finally release yourself from unattainable expectations, to let go of the false sense of urgency or failure, and to just allow yourself to be, with love and compassion.


Visit Intuitive Eating and Elyse Resch's website. Connect on Instagram. BOOK | Elyse Resch - The Intuitive Eating Journal: Your Guided Journey for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food BOOK | Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole - The Intuitive Eating Card Deck: 50 Bite-Sized Ways to Make Peace with Food BOOK | Peter A. Levine - Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma



PILATES: TRANSFORMING YOUR LIFE WITH LESLIE LOGAN | EP 182 Visit speakpipe.com/behindthebite and submit your comment via voice message! Sign up for the free Behind The Bite Course Practice of the Practice Network Email Dr. Cristina Castagnini: info@behindthebitepodcast.com


I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "Hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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