Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Health, Physical Education, and Recreation


Julie Gast


Research has shown that restrictive eating, or dieting, can be devastating to one's health. A new paradigm, intuitive eating, suggests that individuals eat based off of their physiological cues, and not for emotional or social ones. To date, restrictive eating has been extensively researched, but intuitive eating has not. The main purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between intuitive eating and its relationship between physical activity motivation and physical activity maintenance, using the self-determination theory.

Participants completed a survey to determine their intuitive eating level, their physical activity motivation, and their physical activity maintenance (n = 207). Linear regression analyses revealed that intuitive eaters were significantly more intrinsically motivated to engage in physical activity (p > .01). However, this did not mean that they maintained their physical activity more than non-intuitive eaters (p = .317). Further analysis explored the motivation levels in more detail, revealing a significant difference between intuitive and non-intuitive eaters between all levels of motivation but one, the identified regulation motivation level (p = .537), the highest category of extrinsic motivation in the self-determination theory continuum.