What do people think of intuitive eating? a qualitative exploration with rural Australians

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Van Dyke, Nina ORCID: 0000-0002-8872-3451, Murphy, Michael and Drinkwater, Eric ORCID: 0000-0002-9594-9360 (2023) What do people think of intuitive eating? a qualitative exploration with rural Australians. PLoS One, 18 (8). ISSN 1932-6203


Evidence supports that intuitive eating is associated with many indicators of positive physical and mental health, with more recent longitudinal studies establishing causality. Most research, however, comprises either survey data or clinical trials. This study attempts to fill this evidentiary gap by using a qualitative methodology to explore people's understandings and reactions to intuitive eating, including perceived barriers and enablers to implementation. Three focus group discussions were conducted in a non-metropolitan region of Victoria, Australia, with a total of 23 participants. Focus group transcripts were thematically analysed using an inductive descriptive approach within a constructionist perspective. Findings indicate that the concept of intuitive eating was either unknown or misunderstood. Once intuitive eating was explained, most responses to implementing intuitive eating were negative. Participants felt that having complete choice around what they ate was unlikely to equate to a healthy or balanced diet, at least in the short term. They also argued that because everyday life was not intuitive in its structures, it would be difficult to eat intuitively. Despite these difficulties, participants appreciated that if they were able to overcome the various barriers and achieve a state of intuitive eating, they anticipated a range of long-term benefits to health and weight management. For intuitive eating to become a viable public health approach, this research suggests that intuitive eating needs to be much more widely publicised and better explained, and perhaps renamed. More significantly, people would need assistance with how to eat intuitively given the barriers identified.

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Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/46896
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0278979
Official URL https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.13...
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4206 Public health
Current > Division/Research > Mitchell Institute
Keywords intuitive eating, physical health, mental health, hunger signals, Australia, rural Australians
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