05 May What is Normal Eating?
These days, it seems like everyone wants to put a label on their eating. Vegan. Paleo. Gluten free. Clean. Here’s a funny point, when people find out I’m a dietitian, I often get a lot of speculation about what “kind of eater” I am. Such as,
“You must be a healthy eater.”
“I bet your diet is perfect.”
“Are you … (insert name of latest diet trend)”
I never quite know what to say, because being grilled about my eating habits is kinda uncomfortable. If I had to be known for a certain eating label, I would just say I’m a “normal eater.”
Read more as a talk about what Normal Eating is and it’s not what you think!
“Going to the table Hungry ”
Dieting and disordered eating have become normal eating. Both are so prevalent, that we often label “concerning” eating behaviors as normal.
- Skipping meals to save up for a big dinner. Normal.
- Avoiding entire food groups. Normal. (Exception is going Vegan)
- Spending an hour each day tracking calorie intake. Normal.
Clearly, that’s not the kind of “normal” eating!
Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It’s being able to choose the food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it – not just stop eating because you think you should.
Normal eating is being able to give some thought to your food selection, so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.
Normal eating means eating out of hunger most of the time, but not always.
The reality is Normal eating is occasionally drowning your sorrows in a pint of Ben & Jerrys or mindlessly eating the cookies or donuts a coworker brought into work. You may feel a hint of guilt, but rather than saying “the helk with it,” you are able to look at the situation objectively and brainstorm a better way of dealing with the trigger in the future.
There will always be stressful days and coworkers who like to bring in donuts.
“Giving yourself permission to eat”
Normal eating is nourishing yourself regularly throughout the day. Perhaps it’s with three meals a day, or maybe for you it’s usually 5 smaller meals.
There may be busy days when you find you’ve gone too long without eating and feel ravenously hungry. There may be days where you just don’t have much of an appetite, and miss meals or snacks. There may be days where you feel very hungry and eat more meals and snacks than usual. Some days you may miss the mark.
The key is you’re giving your body what it needs.
Normal eating means adapting to what food is available in the situation. Maybe that means eating at a restaurant you don’t like because that’s where your friends want to go. Maybe that means ordering takeout because you don’t have time to cook. Maybe that means throwing a ton of random snack foods together to make a meal and even though it isn’t super satisfying, you know you have plenty of opportunity for tasty meals in the future.
Normal eating means food is part of life, but it isn’t all of life. Normal eating also leaves room for other interests too.
“Trusting your body to make up the mistakes in eating”
Normal eating means making decisions based on what you want and need in THAT moment, and what’s available to you. Normal may value nutrition – or not!
There’s no rule that you HAVE to eat healthy. Normal eating knows that nutrition is ONE form of self-care
If you zoom out on normal eating, you’ll see lots of nutritious foods – and plenty of fun foods. Some days may have a higher ratio of nutritious foods. Other days you might just eat cheese sticks, French fries and a fried chicken sandwich. Neither is good or bad it’s just what felt good and right at that time.
Normal eating balances out “mistakes” in eating over time, so they aren’t really mistakes.
In a nutshell, normal eating is FLEXIBLE!
The main point is, normal eating is knowing food isn’t your enemy.
Normal eaters know food is there to nourish your body, and your soul.
Normal eating means food is your friend, an ally that is there to support you in living longer, feeling better and enabling you to do the things YOU enjoy doing!
What does normal eating mean to YOU? Click [here] to have a conversation!