What is “Normal Eating”?

Today I’d like to offer you a definition of “normal eating” from the dietician, Ellen Satter. As you read it, think about how it compares to your “normal” way of 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 under-eating 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.”

Satter’s definition of normal eating is far from normal for most of us!

What was your response to this description of normal? Does it sound wonderfully freeing, or does it make you anxious? Are you so used to listening to other people’s rules about what you should eat that this sounds ridiculous, impossible, or irresponsible?

Or does it sound like sanity?


If “normal eating” sounds like something you’d love to experience, even if it sounds scary, stay tuned. In future posts, I’ll write about how to you can re-learn to eat “normally” but healthfully in a holistic manner, that nourishes your mind, body, and spirit, and that’s tuned in to your body’s needs, not diet culture’s directives; and in a flexible and enjoyable way that balances intuition with nutrition.

It’s hard to imagine, I know, but eating can be…. just eating.

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