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Eating. It should be so simple, but for many of us, we’ve fallen into the trap of trying to be “perfect” in the way that we eat. A pattern that can lead down the road to disordered eating. Not an eating disorder, but more a cycle of eating “perfect”, falling off the plan, binging and then trying to get back on track. Many popular diets that people follow eliminate food groups and we applause each other for being “good” and sticking to such plans. Being “good” seems to be the gold standard for eating, and we admire those who always say no to dessert or the cheese platter, but is it a healthy habit for us to be in?
I absolutely encourage a healthy eating lifestyle, including lots of vegetables, wholegrains, lean proteins and healthy fats, but I think there is room in a healthy eating pattern to allow yourself a treat. I sometimes eat cake, I eat chocolate, I sometimes eat takeaways, in small quantities, and I don’t feel guilty about it. I believe that part of eating healthy and having a healthy relationship with food is allowing room to eat for enjoyment, and not feeling guilty for eating something that’s not a superfood or on the “healthy” list.
If you’re happy completely avoiding things that are high in sugar or fat, then go you, but not many people fit in this category. For many people, cutting out these foods altogether, and trying to rigidly stick to such a diet leaves them feeling angry and frustrated when they slip up and can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. And becoming obsessed about what you eat isn’t a good space to be in and can lead to binge eating and feeling out of control. Personally, I think absolutely base your diet on healthy eating, – but do allow yourself a treat every now and then if you feel you need it. So what is normal eating as opposed to disordered eating?
Dietitian Ellyn Satter defines normal eating as part of the following:
- Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied.
- 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.
- 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 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
What are your thoughts on “normal” eating and what do you think constitutes “healthy eating” ?