What the heck is normal eating!?
I think that the definition of normal eating is completely skewed. And words like “diet” and “restriction” have become the norm. We always want to be leaner, fitter, and thinner.
We want our bones to show or our 6-pack to be visible. So called “health” magazines seem to preach having “willpower” and eliminating “bad” foods from our diet. Or they are coming up with strategies to eat less and restrict. Normal eating has become lost and I don’t think many of us know what it is anymore.
I spent some time googling the internet for some possible answers and stumbled upon a few good explanations of what others think normal eating is.
I found this by a woman named Karly Randolph Pitman,
I eat foods that make me feel good. I like a steak every now and then. A pizza is a favorite treat. I love colorful salads. Risotto is my idea of heaven. These things make me feel good, so I eat them. Sugar makes me depressed and wacks me out. Fried eggs give me the willies. Too many fake foods—think lots of processing and packaging—make me feel icky. So I usually abstain.
I eat what I really want. What I want to eat today may be different tomorrow. What I want in the winter may be different than what I crave in the summer. How nice that I can choose; that I don’t have to eat the same four things from a “good foods” list over and over again. Right now I’m in a raw fruit and vegetable phase, stemming from the heat wave we’re currently experiencing. But as the weather cools I crave warm, cooked vegetables and hearty soups. A few weeks ago, when my baby was going through a growth spurt (I’m a nursing mother), I had a hankering for nuts and nut butter. I followed my craving, got a spoon, and dove into the almond butter, without any guilt, shame, remorse or thoughts of calories.
I enjoy my food. I love food. I always have. And I’ve come to glory in that, rather than feel ashamed by it. Who started the lie, anyway, that women shouldn’t have an appetite? I’ve always had a hearty appetite, especially when I’m exercising regularly and nursing, as I am now. I have no qualms about getting a second helping, rather than undereating to be socially acceptable.
Ellyn Satter had this to say,
“Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose 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 is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good.
Normal eating is mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful.
Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more.
Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.
In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.”
My Definition of Normal Eating
To me, normal eating means the following:
Eating what I enjoy and truly want
Honoring my cravings, not eating what I “think I should be eating” or what is the “right choice”
Being mindful that I am getting enough nutritious foods
Eating a variety of foods, not the same “safe foods” day in and day out
Not counting calories or being a slave to the food scale. I know that my appetite is different each day
Listening to my hunger cues and feelings of fullness
Understanding that I eat for other reasons other than hunger and giving myself permission to do so
Not going on an all out- binge because I “blew it” by eating too many cookies or ice cream. It’s being able to stop and move on.
Not restricting when I feel I ate too much the day before by eating too little or exercising too much
Not having unrealistic expectations for my body
Not being afraid of food
Above all, normal eating is truly enjoying each meal, whether alone or with others
What is YOUR definition of normal eating?