Background: While much research has investigated disordered eating, obesity, and weight loss treatments, less work has focused on creating a positive definition of psychologically healthy eating. Such a definition could inform obesity and eating disorder treatments. While intuitive eating appears to approximate a definition of psychologically healthy eating, it was believed that adding concepts of moderation, flexibility, and food enjoyment would improve its construct validity, as previous research has supported these constructs as important for psychologically healthy eating. The current paper presents a two-factor model of healthy eating, one that incorporates both psychologically healthy and nutritionally healthy eating. Method: A total of 479 undergraduate students completed online measures of nutritionally healthy eating, intuitive eating, moderation, flexibility, food enjoyment, emotional eating, hedonic hunger, dieting, body dissatisfaction, disordered eating, psychological health, ethnic identity, and demographics. Results: Factor analyses indicated that the items assessing moderation, flexibility, and food enjoyment were psychometrically problematic, and so analyses proceeded with the measure of intuitive eating alone. Nutritionally healthy eating and psychologically healthy eating were orthogonal. A latent profile analysis was conducted using measures of nutritionally healthy and psychologically healthy eating as indicators; this resulted in a five-class solution including Healthy, Dieting, Non-dieting, Intuitive Eating, and Unhealthy classes. These classes were theoretically meaningful and showed distinct patterns when compared on other study measures. Discussion: Intuitive Eating appears to provide a valid operationalization of psychologically healthy eating. Results generally supported the two-factor theory of healthy eating. Future research should investigate the effectiveness of intuitive eating interventions to improve public health as well as weight loss and eating disorder treatments.
Level of Degree
Smith, Jane Ellen
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
healthy eating, intuitive eating, nutrition, disordered eating
Belon, Katherine E.. "Psychologically Healthy Eating and Nutritionally Healthy Eating: Exploring a Two-Factor Theory of Healthy Eating." (2016). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/psy_etds/6