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Alison Beaver: What Is Normal Eating?

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When we talk about "eating disorders", we are typically talking about specific illnesses that are clinically-diagnosable.

When we talk about "disordered eating", we are referring to a large continuum of behaviors that could indicate an eating disorder that is "sub-clinical" (does not meet all the criteria for a clinical diagnosis) or a pattern of unhealthy eating (which is very vague!).

So, if we know the "disordered" way of eating... then what exactly is the "normal" way to eat?!

This is the best definition I have ever found:

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 on 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, or it can 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 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, your schedule, your hunger, and your proximity to food.

Resource: "How to Get your Kids to Eat...but Not Too Much" by Ellyn Satter

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