Normal eating habits… do you even remember what that means? In fact I’m not sure that ‘normal eating’ really exists but I do know that there’s a hell of a lot of disordered eating going on, even if you don’t have an actual eating disorder.
I prefer to look at what constitutes a healthy relationship with food but when I think back to my struggles with food, I know that the stories I heard in slimming clubs, talking to friends and in books aren’t truly representative of what a normal relationship with food is.
There are some lucky individuals who, eat what they want, when they want and never develop weight problems or feel the need to restrict their food intake. They maintain a fairly similar weight, most of the time and don’t feel the need to adjust their body weight artificially.
If that’s not you, then that’s fine – it’s not me either!
But I also know that there are a lot of myths around how they eat, that are not helpful. You are where you are right now because maybe life dealt you a bit of a blow and you turned to binge eating or emotional eating to excess. Or maybe you just put on a little weight and went on a diet and now you’re trapped in the diet – binge – diet cycle.
However you got to this point, let me tell you, normal eating and a healthy relationship with food can look fairly similar to how you are now and don’t let anyone shame you for eating like this.
Normal eating doesn’t include snacks
Snacking is good for your metabolism and nothing to be ashamed of. Snacks come in all shapes and sizes and normal eating includes them all. Nuts in between meals, biscuits with a cuppa, popcorn at the cinema, fruit in the afternoon, chips and dips whilst you watch the football or veg sticks and hummus with a glass of wine.
The difference is that some people don’t feel guilty about eating them and they eat to their appetite, not gorging and feeling guilty and getting to that ‘fuck it’ moment.
Normal eating isn’t gorging on chocolate over Christmas
Everyone indulges in rich food and food they wouldn’t eat on a regular basis over Christmas. It’s part of the tradition and everyone does it. Again what makes the difference is that some people don’t overindulge because of guilt and the fear of deprivation. They take it in their stride and move on.
Normal eating means choosing the healthiest meal on the menu
When you go out to eat you don’t have to choose the greasiest burger ‘just because you can’ nor do you need to choose the ‘healthy’ lowest calorie option. Eating out is about an experience and the experience should be enjoyable, about choosing food you really enjoy eating – perhaps something you wouldn’t normally cook at home and a sociable occasion. You won’t enjoy it if you have food envy. Normal eating means choosing the chips if you want them but choosing the salad if it’s what you really fancy.