Looking for some intuitive eating quotes to help inspire you to kick diet culture to the curb? Look no further! I ran through some of the best books on intuitive eating to gather some inspiring quotes.
One of those books is Women, Food, & God by Geneen Roth, whose books are near and dear to my heart. In fact, it was Women, Food & God that started my journey many years ago (and no, it’s not about God in the biblical sense, it’s about God in the spiritual sense).
Other great books are straight-up Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, and Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon.
I organized these quotes into three categories: intuitive eating quotes, anti diet culture quotes, and conscious living quotes that take intuitive eating to a DEEP, deep level. Are you ready?! Let’s rock and roll.
Inspiring Intuitive Eating Quotes
Many of these intuitive eating quotes come from Evelyn Tribole, who wrote the Intuitive Eating book together with Elyse Resch. Although I haven’t finished the book, or even read much of it, because I try to stay in my lane here with Psycho-Spiritual Wellness, I still love these quotes!
Each intuitive eating quote has some commentary underneath to help you gain even more inspiration with the ones that resonate!
“When you rigidly limit the amount of food you are allowed to eat, it usually sets you up to crave larger quantities of that very food.” ― Evelyn Tribole
This is an eloquent way of saying that, for every restriction there is an equal and opposite binge. When we stop restricting, we stop binge eating, not the other way around. Of course, this is hard to belief for those of us that are new to intuitive eating or haven’t yet given up dieting because we are afraid of weight gain. And that’s why I write lots of posts about the path to giving up dieting, because it IS scary, and the more you mentally prepare yourself, the better off you’ll be.
“Having a healthy relationship with food means you are not morally superior or inferior based on your eating choices.” ― Evelyn Tribole
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a client say something like, “Well, I got the salad because I didn’t want to look like a total slob.” I feel that! When you’re overweight, there is so much unfair stigma placed on you for eating a burger in public. So we opt for salads. And I love this intuitive eating quote because it reminds us that we are not bad people for eating foods that other people consider bad. Food is food, and a human is a human.
“We eat the way we eat because we are afraid to feel what we feel.” ― Geneen Roth
This is by far my favorite intuitive eating quote ever. Because it touches upon the very heart of overeating tendencies: a resistance to discomfort. Whenever there’s a desire to eat when you aren’t hungry, there’s a feeling that you don’t want to feel. This is what the Stop, Drop, & Feel is for. It’s a tool that helps you address the feelings behind a binge. When I first created the tool, I was astounded by how well it worked.
“The moment you banish a food, it paradoxically builds up a “craving life” of its own that gets stronger with each diet, and builds more momentum as the deprivation deepens.” ― Evelyn Tribole
One of my clients was keto when she first met with me, and I gave her some “homework” to eat pancakes for breakfast. She was so excited, and that helped me really know that it was important for her. Because the more you restrict sugar and carbs, the more you crave sugar and carbs and binge on them as a result.
“When underfed—whether from a self-imposed diet or starvation—you will obsess about food.” ― Evelyn Tribole
Thinking about food 24/7 is usually the result of not eating enough food.
“And if you worry that not finishing the food on your plate is a slap in the face of all the hungry people everywhere, you are not living in reality. The truth is that you either throw the food out or you throw it in, but either way it turns to waste. World hunger will not be solved by finishing the garlic mashed potatoes on your plate.” ― Geneen Roth
Geneen Roth has some of the best quotes on the fear of wasting food. She just makes too much sense! And this made the list of intuitive eating quotes because it’s hard to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues when you’re preoccupied with anxiety about wasting food.
“Children deprived of food in an attempt to be thin become preoccupied with food, afraid they won’t get enough to eat, and are prone to overeat when they get the chance.” ― Evelyn Tribole
Also known as Last Supper Eating Syndrome. Maybe you’ve experienced this when you throw away a “good week” of eating on Sunday and binge through Sunday night until you “start fresh” Monday morning… yeah. That’s yo-yo dieting, and that the cycle that intuitive eating helps you stop.
“In fact, groundbreaking work by therapist and dietitian Ellyn Satter has shown that if you get the parents of overweight kids to back off and let them eat without parental pressure, the kids will eventually eat less.” ― Evelyn Tribole
Rebellion is a thing. The more rules we place upon ourselves, the more we have to rebel against. Fortunately, when the food rules are lifted, there’s nothing to rebel against, so our little inner child saunters off and looks for something else to rebel against. And you get to go back to eating like a normal human being (aka. eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full, and living your life without thinking about food all the time).
“Treat yourself as if you already are enough. Walk as if you are enough. Eat as if you are enough. See, look, listen as if you are enough. Because it’s true.” ― Geneen Roth
Why did this make the list of intuitive eating quotes? Because the fear of not being enough is, in my opinion, the #1 cause of self-sabotage around food. And yeah, Geneen said it a long time ago.
Motivating Anti Diet Culture Quotes
Many of these anti diet culture quotes came from Linda Bacon. Her book Health at Every Size is a must-read.
“Once you consider the extent of the magical thinking that tends to be tied in to the fantasy of thinness, you can understand how threatening it is to consider the idea that you may never get the thin body you crave. It means that you never get to become the person you want to be. Wow! No wonder it’s so painful to let go of the drive to lose weight!” -Linda Bacon
Magical thinking… yeah. Add that to the list of reasons why it’s so hard to stop dieting. But giving up dieting is ultimately the thing that will set you free. So many of us worry that we will gain weight if we let go of all the food rules, and that fear is valid! Diet culture has taught you that you cannot be trusted around food.
And that’s why I created Psycho-Spiritual Wellness, which is about so much more than giving up dieting. It’s also about navigating all the psycho-spiritual issues that tie into our eating behavior.
“Food is a wonderful source of pleasure—but it will get you into trouble if it’s the only source of pleasure you have in your life.” ― Linda Bacon
When we don’t get pleasure from life, we will compulsively seek it from food because both pleasure and food are basic human needs. This is what hedonic eating is. Hedonic eating refers to the craving for high-fat, palatable foods in response to a lack of pleasure elsewhere in your life.
“Eating when you’re hungry helps maintain your setpoint and keep you at the weight that’s right for you, and denying your hunger leads to compensatory mechanisms that trigger fat storage and weight gain.” ― Linda Bacon
Yes yes yesss. When we diet and restrict our calories, we push our bodies into starvation mode which slows down our metabolism. So while we’re “being good” and undereating, our metabolism is slowing down. And when that “being good” leads to a binge (as it always does!) we binge while our metabolism is slowed, and it does exactly what we don’t want it to do: turn into fat, because our body is trying to conserve and store energy so that you don’t DIE. (Yeah, so many intuitive eating quotes end dramatically like that, because it really is a life or death situation for your body when you don’t eat enough.)
“If you feel driven to eat for emotional reasons, you don’t have an eating problem. Nope. You have a caretaking problem. You’re not taking proper care of yourself.” ― Linda Bacon
I love this! So many of us beat ourselves up for overeating, when what we really need is compassion. We eat the way we eat for really good reasons. And I know it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. I know it feels like overeating is only bad. But any time I sit down with a client, and I start asking questions about a specific moment of overeating, I’m always able to trace it back to a really good reason.
For example, one client was actually a caretaker for a disabled woman, and that woman was pressuring her to have some of the pizza she ordered. Although my client wasn’t hungry, she ate the pizza anyway, and then she beat herself up for it. She felt stupid and guilty, and that shouldn’t be the case! She didn’t eat the pizza because she was weak. She ate the pizza because she really cared for this woman and didn’t want to hurt her feelings.
And this is where boundaries come into play. Many times, overeating stems from a lack of boundaries and people-pleasing. We eat to make others (especially hosts) feel happy. And, just as Linda said, this is a caretaking problem. We are putting the happiness of another person above having respect for our bodies. Learning to say no thanks is hard but necessary.
“In one study, women were told they were going to rate the quality of certain foods. Some women got a milkshake followed by three bowls of ice cream; some just got the ice cream. The restrained eaters who didn’t get the milkshake ate very little of the ice cream (trying to be ‘good’), but those who drank the milkshake also ate most of the ice cream. (The ‘what the hell’ effect. . . i.e., ‘I drank the milkshake, I ruined my diet, what the hell, I’ll eat the ice cream, too.’) The idea that there will be a restriction in the future paradoxically motivated these women to act counter to their internal restriction, ‘to get it while I can.'” ― Linda Bacon
This intuitive eating quote directly touches upon Last Supper Eating Syndrome, which describes the feeding frenzy that happens the night before we restart a diet. I love this quote because it provides evidence that not dieting leads to less feeding frenzies!
“Diets are based on the unspoken fear that you are a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic…The promise of a diet is not only that you will have a different body; it is that in having a different body, you will have a different life. If you hate yourself enough, you will love yourself. If you torture yourself enough, you will become a peaceful, relaxed human being.” ― Geneen Roth
Like I said earlier, Geneen Roth just makes too much sense!!! I love this one. It’s definitely a favorite among these anti diet culture quotes.
Conscious Living + Intuitive Eating Quotes
Now let’s dive into some of my favorite quotes from Geneen Roth. No one dives straight into the heart of compulsive eating the way Geneen does.
Let’s dive DEEP.
“When you ignore your belly, you become homeless. You spend your life trying to erase your own existence. Apologizing for yourself. Feeling like a ghost. Eating to take up space, eating to give yourself the feeling that you have weight here, you belong here, you are allowed to be yourself — but never quite believing it because you don’t sense yourself directly.” ― Geneen Roth
There was day that I had a mini meltdown when I sat in the bathtub and placed my hands on my belly… I broke down and sobbed. I heaved. Because I realized that I was living my life like a floating head, completely detached from my body. And when I finally placed some attention toward my belly, from a place of love not hate, it cracked me open. I wrote about this in my book Daily Reminders.
“For some reason, we are truly convinced that if we criticize ourselves, the criticism will lead to change. If we are harsh, we believe we will end up being kind. If we shame ourselves, we believe we end up loving ourselves. It has never been true, not for a moment, that shame leads to love. Only love leads to love.” ― Geneen Roth
We cannot shame ourselves thin. We cannot diet our way towards happiness. Happiness is the way. Love is the way. And I know it sounds cheesy, but you can love yourself leaner. And while your inner critic may argue with that, one thing is even more certain: you cannot hate yourself thin. At least, not for long.
“Weight loss does not make people happy. Or peaceful. Being thin does not address the emptiness that has no shape or weight or name. Even a wildly successful diet is a colossal failure because inside the new body is the same sinking heart.” ― Geneen Roth
Have you ever read someone’s personal story where they became thin and then hit rock bottom because they still felt miserable?
And if you think this doesn’t apply to you, because your life is perfect except for the food thing, I can’t help but notice that this is how everyone feels until they start doing the work and feeling their feelings. And then life falls apart. Or at least, life seems to fall apart. Except it’s not. At least, it’s not falling apart any more than it was. It’s just that you’re finally feeling it.
When we stop dieting and start feeling the feelings that drive compulsive eating, it’s like all hell breaks loose. But this is actually what authenticity feels like. And if authenticity hurts sometimes, but is necessary to honor my body, sign me up. Sign me allll the way up.
“Weight (too much or too little) is a by-product. Weight is what happens when you use food to flatten your life. Even with aching joints, it’s not about food. Even with arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure. It’s about your desire to flatten your life. It’s about the fact that you’ve given up without saying so. It’s about your belief that it’s not possible to live any other way — and you’re using food to act that out without ever having to admit it.” ― Geneen Roth
This one is a bit depressing, but it’s so true. When we stop using food to buffer our lives, we feel a lot more. That means feeling more joy and also more pain. I choose to sign up for it. Feeling more awful than I used to — and also more alive than I used to — is a beautiful price to pay for feeling normal around food.
“If we think our job here on earth is to fix ourselves, we will keep looking for the broken places. If we believe our job is to be kind, we will keep lavishing love on ourselves.” ― Geneen Roth
What you focus on expands. I’ve definitely found this to be true, in good ways and bad ways. The more I used to focus on my weight, the more insecure I felt. And once I gave up dieting, my body confidence naturally improved, probably because I stopped thinking about my flaws so much!