The Instinct Diet is a patented weight loss plan devised by Dr. Susan Roberts, MD. It’s also a highly popular, highly successful plan, which has sold millions of copies the world over. How so? For one thing, it is staunchly against starving oneself in order to lose weight. For another, it is based on a nutrient-rich, tasty, varied, and sustainable long-term strategy. While it will not promote instant weight loss, it won’t have your scales bouncing back and forth from one end of the spectrum to the other, in what has been popularly termed as the ‘yoyo effect’. Last, but perhaps most importantly, the Instinct Diet was compiled after long and thorough bouts of scientific research.


Our eating instincts


Roberts has the benefits of being both a Professor of Nutrition and Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University. Thus, she looks at nutrition from the point of view of instincts. She identified five instincts that contribute to the way in which we eat.




It almost goes without saying that we eat because we are hungry, but Susan Roberts says more than this. She says that the hunger instinct is essentially triggered by the release of two hormones. When ghrelin and leptin are released into the body, then hunger becomes incontrollable. As such, starving oneself is not only painful and hard to bear, but it’s also highly counterproductive when dieting.



We see it, we eat it, Susan Roberts says. This is especially true of people who literally cannot turn down a free meal, no matter how unhealthy it may seem. It also explains why America (and many other countries around the world) are suffering because of the plague of obesity—as the times have evolved, restaurant portion sizes have increased in direct proportion. Availability is controlled via willpower, but in the initial stages of weight loss, it is pivotal for the dieter to make certain foods unavailable to themselves.

Calorie Density


Susan Roberts’ spent over two decades researching human eating habits and found that the human brain instinctively goes for those foods who seem richer in calories. In other words, it’s a matter of instinct that we choose a double chocolate muffin over a carrot. Like our ancestors, we look for foodstuff that will keep us satisfied for longer—or that at least visually make us that promise.




The instinct of food familiarity explains why some dote on comfort foods. We eat what we know and have been exposed to. As such, bad eating habits (such as a preference for empty-calorie or highly fatty foods) can be countered by repeated, long-term exposure to healthier, more nutrient-rich foods.




Variety and diversity are wonderful things, but not always so when trying to lose weight. Too much variety in a toxic food environment, where we are constantly assaulted with the wrong food choices is hard to fight, as well as highly detrimental. If you’re trying to lose weight, limit your initial choices to a select, healthy few. You will get your taste buds reacquainted to the flavors of healthy food and find it easier to avoid unhealthy ones.


What happened to our eating habits?


As you can tell from the list above, all of these instincts make perfect sense back in the days of hunter-gatherers, and even before. Food could be scarce for long periods of time, and any resource people found or hunted was. It’s also worth noting that, back in the day, people had to put in much more effort to procure sustenance, from foraging through the surrounding areas, to hunting and fishing for hours.

And there’s nothing wrong with these instincts, strictly speaking. Of course you’re going to want to eat when you’re hungry. And it makes sense that you’re going to want to eat the most filling thing you can find. Eating varied food you are familliar with is also perfectly harmless and natural. However, our sense of food availability is still recovering from its days of having to scrounge for food. And we’re not putting even half the effort our ancestors did to procure food.

Viewed from this point of view, the iDiet, or instinct diet, has a lot in common with the Paleo diet. The Paleo diet, in a nutshell, starts of from the same basic premise that our brains are hot-wired to seek certain types of food that are no longer available in the same form nowadays. The Paleo diet advocates eating only the types of food that a primitive human could have hunted or gathered, and cosuming it in the same form they would have. The Paleo diet also involves a great amount of physical exercises, once again, to aproximate the experience of a primitive human.

The iDiet is not as restrictive as the Paleo diet.


How does the Instinct Diet help?


 The iDiet relies just as much on healthy eating as it does on building healthy eating habits. At its core, the Instinct Diet is just like any other diet that seeks to limit caloric intake on a daily basis. But as we all know, limiting caloric intake can only help so much. Once you’re off a diet, you’re going to want to treat yourself a little. And that’s how you end up bouncing back to your previous wait.

Robert’s Instinct Diet addresses the issue first by designing meals that will help you feel full and healthy. Her book also offers tips on how to condition your brain to seek out healthy, nourishing food instead of junk. One tip, for example, is quite easy to apply and makes perfect sense. Robert says whenever you feel hungry, you should always go for something healthy and filling. This plays into that familliarity instinct discussed above. Training your instincts does not happen overnight. However, in time, your brain will be “rewired” to crave healthy food whenever you feel hungry.

The diet itself takes 8 weeks. The first two weeks are a bit more intense. However, as you progress, the it becomes increasingly lenient, leading up to the point where you no longer need to follow the diet at all. That’s because, even though you will be losing weight throughout those 8 weeks, the permanent transformation will involve your brain and eating habits. You can read more about the science behind the iDiet on the official website,

On this website, you can also find samples of iDiet recipes and recommendations.

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