One of my favorite things to say is that I know what it’s like to not have food be in control me and to not need to control food. To me, this is a state of nirvana and I experience it on a regular basis. That said, there are times when old behaviors creep in, when I’m feeling bingey, when I eat too much, when I eat even though I’m not hungry, when I think that a certain food is “bad” or that I “should” be eating some other “good” food. But mostly, I am able to catch myself, if not in the moment, at least pretty quickly. I’ve also gotten REALLY good at not beating myself up.
One of the Foundation classes here at Green Mountain At Fox Run is called “Becoming A Skillful Eater” and it’s taught by Robyn Priebe, GMFR’s resident nutrition expert (she’s a registered and certified dietician and has an advanced degree in dietetics). One thing that became evident immediately here at GMFR is that the staff is NOT about lumping everyone together and approaching health with a one-size-fits-all mentality. To that end, when defining “normal eating,” Robyn says, “Normal eating means different things to different people; in truth, what is normal is not always best. But when it comes to eating, an idea of what is normal and natural can help us to learn to eat to support health and fitness.”
She offers this definition of “normal eating” from Ellyn Satter:
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 so 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 area of your life. In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your emotions, your schedule, your hunger, and your proximity to food.
Along with this Robyn outlines different eating styles – including skillful, chaotic, diet mentality, emotional, and dysregulated – and provides a questionnaire to help women determine their style. I found myself mostly skillful, with a side of chaos and every once in a great while, I have foray into emotional eating. I’ve come a long way, baby, but my eyes have been opened quite a bit in terms of how to handle that chaotic side of myself.
Based on the “normal eating” definition, I think I am a normal eater. What about you?