Almost all of my clients suffer from some level of emotional eating – some more severe than others. Many come to me and say “I have no idea what normal eating is.” Most people don’t, and it’s hard to say exactly what normal eating is, but I remembered a great handout one of my professor’s at NYU gave us, called the: Definition of ‘Normal’ Eating. It is an excerpt from the book How to Get Your Kid to Eat: But Not Too Much, by Ellen Satter MSW, RD.
Ellen Satter (www.ellensatter.com) is a very well known dietitian for her resources on eating and feeding. According to her website: “Ellyn Satter pioneered the concepts of the feeding relationship and eating competence. She is the author of the division of responsibility in feeding.” While she is typically associated with child nutrition, this excerpt from her book applies to all, and I could not have come up with a better explanation myself:
Definition of ‘Normal’ Eating
“Normal eating is being able to eat when you are hungry and continue 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 use some moderate constraint in your food selection to get the right food, but not being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods. 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 three meals a day, most of the time, but it can also be choosing to munch along. 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 wonderful when they are fresh. Normal eating is overeating at times: feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. It is also 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 emotions, hour schedule, your hunger, and your proximity to food.”
Satter, E. (1987). How to Get Your Kids to Eat: But Not Too Much. Bull Publishing. ISBN 0915950839.
It’s easy to go on a “diet” and become fixated and deprive yourself of your favorite foods, only for it to backfire. It’s also easy to eat everything and anything in site, and not enjoy it. Some where in the middle is where normal eating lies, and it’s a really great place to be.
What do you think of this definition?