July 24, 2024


Health Lasts Longer

Ask a Health Coach: Intuitive Eating vs. Primal Eating


Hey folks, Board-Certified Health Coach Chloe Maleski is here to answer your questions about intuitive eating. Wondering what intuitive eating is and whether it’s Primal? We’re here with guidance and support! Have a question you’d like to ask our health coaches? Leave it below in the comments or over in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook group.

Janice asked:
“I’m thinking about doing an intuitive eating program. What’s better? That or Primal? Can I do both? I’m confused!”

First, you’re not alone, Janice! It’s easy to be confused by the many approaches to diet and eating out there—many of which offer contradictory advice.

women chopping vegetables in kitchen

An important thing to keep in mind is that no one way of eating is optimal for everyone. What’s “better” or “best” for you depends on many factors, including individual characteristics and conditions, health and wellness goals, and factors related to resources and accessibility.

That said, there are certainly some foods and eating patterns that are detrimental to pretty much everyone. When it comes to health, longevity, and vitality, a diet full of sugar, highly refined seed oils, fast food, and processed food is never a good idea!

On the flip side, eating in ways that more closely match what our ancestors ate is far more likely to support healthy outcomes. On the most basic level, we’re really just talking real, whole food in its most natural state or with minimal processing. Think:

The above are Primal staples and give our body what it needs to thrive—not just survive. When eating in this way consistently over time, people usually become intuitive eaters in the sense of knowing what their body wants and when they are actually hungry. As a result, they’re less likely to engage in comfort eating or emotional eating out of stress, worry, boredom, or just plain habit.

Generally, this is not the case when we eat a diet full of “modern” foods that disrupt our endocrine system and metabolism while contributing to systemic inflammation. Grains and sugar are a major culprit in this regard. It’s hard if not impossible to “eat intuitively” if these foods have disrupted our body’s signaling system and desensitized us to the natural sweetness in whole foods as well as to feelings of hunger and satiation. Because of their very physiological impact on our endocrine system and insulin levels, grains and sugar promote cravings for, well, more grains and sugar!

Primal Eating = Eating Intuitively

All that’s to say, Primal eating is eating intuitively. This is especially the case if you commit to eating Primal in a consistent way, plus follow the other Primal Blueprint Laws. Those, alongside food choices, influence our body’s hormonal signaling system and determine whether we’re in touch with what we actually want and need.

While all 10 Primal Blueprint Laws are important, key ones here include:

Think about it. If you follow those three, plus eat plants and animals and avoid poisonous things (including the grains, sugar, and highly processed food mentioned above), you’re pretty much bound to feel better and intuitively know what foods your body wants and when.

Eating Intuitively = Intuitive Eating

Simple, right? And yet, we humans tend to complicate things…

There is a whole practice and methodology known as Intuitive Eating (with a capital “I” and “E”). This approach diverges from the Primal Blueprint Laws in a major way. Namely, one of Intuitive Eating’s core tenets is unconditional permission to eat anything in any amount that your body wants. As we learned above, this gets tricky in that what you eat will determine what your body wants.

For some people, this unconditional “green light” helps to take the pressure off and assists them in healing disordered eating and unhelpful patterns around food, dieting, and body image. In such instances, an Intuitive Eating approach truly might feed healthy, intuitive eating patterns (and may even lead folks towards Primal eating, which is the optimal diet from a physiological and evolutionary standpoint).

For others, the approach can backfire, for the simple reason that the foods we choose have a very physiological impact. If given permission to eat sugar and cake, you eat sugar and cake…well, your entire physiology will eventually want and demand more of the same.

Because there is no single approach that works for everyone, it’s up to you to experiment and to get really honest about why a particular approach resonates. Is it the “permission granted”? The carte blanche to eat cake? Or something different?

There’s no judgement here, but truly embracing a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle requires asking yourself these sorts of questions. As a Primal Health Coach, one of my main jobs is to guide clients towards self-reflection and to help them figure out which approaches and strategies will work best for them.

Primal Resilience = Good News!

Worth mentioning here is that a Primal lifestyle isn’t bad news! For one, the 10 Primal Blueprint Laws are really just parameters to guide the way. There’s no need or expectation to get it “perfect” at all times. Make a dedicated, consistent effort, and you’re likely to feel better, get healthier and fitter, and want to continue.

When we feed our body what it’s designed to consume and live in ways that help it move towards wellness and vitality, our intuition and internal barometer gets stronger. This makes eating intuitively and living intuitively something “we just do,” without having to depend on external rules and guidelines.

Food Freedom

When we eat Primal the majority of the time in a sustained way, we become metabolically flexible and increasingly resilient. In those instances when we feel a non-Primal food is truly worth it, bouncing back becomes easier and faster. We simply get up the next day, reset with Primal meals, and move on.

For me, this is actual food freedom: Eating and living to thrive. Knowing that one treat won’t derail the trajectory towards looking and feeling my best. Always remembering that our body is on our side and wants us to eat and live in ways that feel better.

Getting there can take time, yes. And the exact roadmap will differ from person to person. For support in that, consider working with a Primal Health Coach one-on-one! It’s more accessible than you might think, and we can help you get clear on what diet approach and lifestyle practices are best for you. Visit myprimalcoach.com to learn more and get started!

Do you eat intuitively? Have your cravings changed since going Primal? Let us know and drop other questions for me in the comments!


Primal Kitchen Hollandaise

About the Author

Chloe Maleski is a board-certified Primal Health Coach and personal trainer with a Bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. She is also the Head Coach at myPrimalCoach, the premier online health coaching service designed to help you lose weight and take control of your health for life.

If you want to lose weight, gain strength and energy, sleep better, reduce stress, or manage chronic health conditions, myPrimalCoach can help. Take the myPrimalCoach health questionnaire to take the first step toward lasting health and wellness.

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