What is Normal Eating?
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.
I have educated myself in multiple ways but reading books produced by Ellyn Satter and the Registered Dietitians of Intuitive Eating, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, I have learned so much and it has shaped me into the Dietitian that I am today. I hope you see it as being real, and making it as simple as possible without restrictions, deprivation and the need to endure the last supper mentality to start a "diet" on Monday. Just like Intuitive Eating, this piece on Normal Eating states it is not always doing it the same way-eating a certain amount of food and/or eliminating a food all together because it does not have much nutritional value. That is why the word permanent seemed too harsh. It is ok to have a set back like eating too much and being uncomfortable but the important part is the way you think about it. I suggest you think of it as a learning experience and not a failure. You will do better the next time around! Knowing the principles of Intuitive Eating will help you in your everyday life to have a healthier relationship with food and can better enable you to be flexible with your thinking and actions.
*Check out Ellyn Satter at www.ellynsatter.com
Intuitive Eating is all about listening to your internal cues to let you know when you are hungry and when you are full. These internal cues assist with developing and/or maintaining a healthy relationship with food. During conversation about the Principle to Respect Your Fullness, I typically discuss a few questions you can ask yourself to simply CUE IN. How does this food taste? Does it taste as good as when I first started eating it? What is my current level of fullness? So in summary, if you simply ask yourself these questions it is just a way to evaluate how you are feeling and not get too wrapped up in mindless eating. Sometimes the lines are blurred though just like the stop light at intersections. Green means go. Red means stop. But that yellow light can be a toss up! When you get the pesky yellow light do you gun it and go on or do you slam on your breaks to make the stop? The same toss up can occur when you are trying to measure your current level of fullness and determine if you should keep eating. The main thing to remember is there is no right answer and every situation is different. Take each experience and use it as a learning experience. If you ask yourself the questions you can at least be aware of how you are feeling. Worse case could be that you leave the table a little hungry but the upside is you can always have a snack later and if you leave feeling overstuffed you can try to remember the experience so the next time you don't feel miserable. Important thing is to not beat yourself up or give it too much time and attention. It takes time and is a process to respecting your fullness.