Resource: Normal Eating

A few years ago I met with the Associate Director of Counseling Services at Nazareth College and spent an hour asking her how I could help young women work through eating disorders. She gave me a handout she uses that is called “‘Normal’ Eating”. With her permission, I would like to share with you the tips that handout includes:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad or bored, or just because it feels good.
  4. 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 eating more now because they taste so wonderful when they are fresh.
  5. Normal eating is overeating at times: feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. It is also under eating at times and wishing you had more.
  6. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.
  7. In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your emotions, your schedule, your hunger, and your proximity to food.

Citation: Ellyn Satter, 1987 How to Get your Kid to Eat… (p. 69) Downloaded from First Do no Harm
One of the things that helped me get my eating under control personally, was seeing food as a gift. Instead of always feeling guilty for eating, I’d be grateful. This might sound weird, but every so often when I’m sad and just really want some ice cream, I’ll eat it! And I’ll say, “Thank you God that this ice cream is really comforting right now. That is so cool that you made food in such a way that there are comfort foods!” I don’t do this all the time; obviously there’s a fine line and balance here. I practice going to God for comfort, and not always giving in to what my body wants to do. But I’ve also had to learn that it’s okay to enjoy eating food, and it’s okay that sometimes a bowl of ice cream really comforts me. God made food in such a way that coffee beans wake us up and chocolate boosts our endorphines and ice cream is comforting to eat! Super cool! That was a whole mentality shift for me.


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