Attunement: Key to a Healthy Weight

Do you struggle with overeating, or problem eating behaviors that impact your weight?  If you want to end the dieting roller coaster and develop a healthy relationship with food then research shows that attunement is key to your success.

The definition of attunement according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to bring into accord, harmony, or sympathetic relationship”.

When it comes to food and eating, attunement is having the ability to take messages from your thoughts feelings, body’s physiology (i.e. hunger, fullness, medical issues, etc) along with messages from your family (food traditions and beliefs) and your culture (beliefs on nutrition values and health guidelines) and come up with decisions and beliefs that are ‘right for you’.

It is essentially being connected to your body’s messages and learning to trust them.

Two examples of lack of attunement are:

1. Jane has internalized ‘food rules’ from the media (specifically magazines) that tells her she needs to eat 1200 calories to lose weight.  Those messages are in conflict with her body’s actual hunger cues (she is HUNGRY on 1200 calories!)  If she lets the outside messages override her body’s cry for food, she will not be in attunement, eventually falling into over and under eating patterns that will negatively impact her weight, health, energy and mood.

2. Joe’s work and home environment is one where he has ready access to highly palatable foods. He also has developed the belief that he should be able to eat whatever he wants, as he wasn’t allowed to when growing up. He therefore eats without taking into account if he is hungry or not or whether the food makes him feel energized and vibrant.  If he continually choose to override his body’s messages then he will lose attunement and likely struggle with overeating.


Why is attunement important? The following research shows that individuals who have attunement have lower body mass index’s and less incidences of binge eating episodes and eating disorders.

  1. Avalos LC, Tylka TL. Exploring a model of intuitive eating with college women. J Couns Psychol 2006;53:474-485
  2. Eneli IU, Crum PA, Tylka TC The Trust Model: A different feeding paradigm for managing childhood obesity. Obesity 2008; 16:2197-2204


My upcoming posts will highlight barriers to attunement. Let me know if you have any you’d like me to address.