Internally Regulated Eating Style: A Comprehensive Theoretical Framework

Palascha, A.; Kleef, E. van; Vet, E.W.M.L. de; Trijp, J.C.M. van


Internally regulated eating style, the eating style that is driven by internal bodily sensations of hunger and satiation, is a concept that has received increasing attention in the literature and health practice over the last decades. The various attempts that have been made so far to conceptualize internally regulated eating have taken place independently of one another and each sheds light on only parts of the total picture of what defines internally regulated eating. This has resulted in a literature that is rather fragmented. More importantly, it is not yet clear which are the characteristics that comprise this eating style. In this paper, we identify and describe the full spectrum of these characteristics, namely, sensitivity to internal hunger and satiation signals, self-efficacy in using internal hunger and satiation signals, self-trusting attitude for the regulation of eating, relaxed relationship with food, and tendency to savor the food while eating. With this research, we introduce a common language to the field and we present a new theoretical framework that does justice not just to the full breadth of characteristics that are necessary for the internally regulated eating style but also to the associations between them and the potential mechanisms by which they contribute to this eating style.