The Relationship Between Intuitive Eating and Postpartum Weight Loss


Objective Postpartum weight loss is challenging for new mothers who report limited time and difficulties following traditional weight loss methods. Intuitive eating (IE) is a behavior that includes eating based on physical hunger and fullness and may have a role in encouraging weight loss. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between IE and postpartum weight loss. Methods Women 12–18 months postpartum completed a questionnaire regarding weight changes surrounding pregnancy, exercise, breastfeeding and intuitive eating using the Intuitive Eating Scale. Latent growth curve modeling was utilized to determine the relationship between IE, breastfeeding, weight gain during pregnancy, and postpartum weight trajectories. Results Participants (n = 50) were 28.5 ± 4.9 years old, had an average pre-pregnancy BMI of 26.4 ± 6.8 and the majority were married, and non-Hispanic white. The conditional model revealed that more intuitive eating practices predicted greater postpartum BMI decreases (Est. = −0.10, p <.05) when controlling for breastfeeding duration, exercise duration, and initial BMI and pregnancy BMI changes. Greater pregnancy BMI increases were associated with more rapid postpartum BMI decreases (Est. = −0.34, p <.001) while breastfeeding duration, exercise and initial BMI were not related. Conclusions for Practice Postpartum weight retention is a challenge for many women. Following a more intuitive eating approach to food consumption may encourage postpartum weight loss without the required weighing, measuring, recording and assessing dietary intake that is required of traditional weight loss programs. IE could offer an alternative approach that may be less arduous for new mothers.

Publication Title

Maternal and Child Health Journal