Learning to eat again: Intuitive eating practices among retired female collegiate athletes

Eat Disord. 2017 Jan-Feb;25(1):92-98. doi: 10.1080/10640266.2016.1219185. Epub 2016 Aug 12.


The present study used an open-ended survey to collect information about current eating practices and coping strategies among 218 retired female athletes. An inductive and deductive thematic analysis revealed three themes relevant to the intuitive eating framework-permission to eat; recognizing internal hunger and satiety cues; and eating to meet physical and nutritional needs. Athletes described feeling liberated with regards to their eating following retirement from sport, and for some this included an alleviation of disordered eating practices. These changes, however, required an effortful process of recalibration, during which athletes had to relearn and reinterpret their body's physiological signals of hunger and satiety. Additional research is needed to understand just how this process unfolds and how retired athletes can be supported in developing a healthier and more adaptive approach to eating.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletes / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology*
  • Intuition / physiology*
  • Retirement / psychology*
  • Satiation / physiology*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult