Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-9-2021


Background: Intuitive eating involves following internal cues of hunger and satiety to guide eating choices, as opposed to responding to external signals, strong emotions, or dietary rules. This style of eating consistently has been shown to be related to better physical and psychological health indicators. This construct would be better understood if studied at the individual momentary level instead of globally or cross-sectionally. Therefore, the proposed study sought to employ ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to examine the validity of intuitive eating at the momentary level. Additionally, the acceptance and expanded acceptance models of intuitive eating and the roles of weight stigma and internalized weight bias were explored. Method: A total of 104 college males and females completed a baseline assessment of intuitive eating and related constructs, a seven-day EMA protocol, and a post-study assessment. During the week of EMA, participants completed recordings on their smart phones of body related attitudes, intuitive eating, and affect while in their natural daily environments. Participants were sent five assessments daily and also were asked to complete recordings before and after eating. Results: Analyses found that trait level intuitive eating reported at baseline was significantly correlated with state level intuitive eating reported across EMA recordings, with some evidence suggesting that correlations were stronger before eating compared to after eating. Intuitive eating generally was related to more taste enjoyment, less guilt, less eating restrictions and regret, and less negative affect before eating. Partial support was found for the acceptance and expanded acceptance models of intuitive eating. Body acceptance by others, body appreciation, and lower appearance/weight exercise motives predicted higher levels of intuitive eating. Finally, internalized weight bias significantly predicted lower intuitive eating scores reported across EMA recordings. Discussion: The current study found support for the ecological validity of intuitive eating. Intuitive eaters reported following their internal cues for hunger and satiety to guide their eating and had less guilt, regret, and negative affect surrounding eating. Body respect by the self and others was associated with more intuitive eating, while exercising for appearance reasons and holding negative stereotypes about weight predicted less intuitive eating. This appears to be the first study to examine intuitive eating at the momentary level using EMA. Future work should continue to validate EMA appropriate measures to understand how intuitive eating functions and to improve intervention efforts.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Jane Ellen Smith

Second Committee Member

Lisa Ranzenhofer

Third Committee Member

Matthew Pearson

Fourth Committee Member

Elizabeth Yeater




intuitive eating, ecological momentary assessment, EMA

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Included in

Psychology Commons