We all strive for it. A balance of nutritious foods and calorically dense foods. A way of eating that supports overall health but also our taste buds and cravings. So what is normal eating? View: Ellyn Satter's definition of normal eating which changed my life!
Listen to your hunger/fullness cues (most of the time). Are you hungry at 4:30 pm and ready for dinner? Eat! Are you full after only half of your meal? Save the rest for later. Other times you may eat a meal because you know you need fuel for a workout or you'll be busy for the next few hours and know you should eat even though you aren't hungry.
No food is off limits. If you restrict any type of food you're probably on a diet, no matter what you call it. The non-diet approach allows all foods. There are no good or bad foods, food is food and your body breaks it all down the same.
But sometimes you plan meals to give your body the nutrition it needs. Just because you let yourself have chocolate after dinner or bread (gasp!) doesn't mean you don't plan to eat fruit and vegetables. These foods are nutrient dense and chalk full of vitamins and minerals.
You give yourself a break. Sometimes a meal is so good that you go back for seconds and then feel too full. Maybe next time you'll be more aware and know when to stop before discomfort. Sometimes you go out to eat and order a burger and fries or fried chicken and waffles and feel a bit bloated the next day. This is normal! But if you want to try a side salad instead of fries next time because your stomach might feel better then that's okay too. Every eating opportunity is a chance to reflect and learn about your body. But that doesn't mean regretting meals/foods/experiences because you weren't perfect or you didn't follow your diet/meal plan/lifestyle/whatever you call it.
Normal eating to me is the grey area. It's not black and white. You don't fail if you eat a cookie or forget to eat fruit with breakfast. You don't win because you went to bed hungry and lost a pound or because you haven't had dessert in a few weeks. You win when you can eat a cookie and feel satisfied because it was damn good and you wanted it and didn't think twice about having it. You win by viewing vegetables as nutritious powerhouses not "free" or "low calorie" foods. You win because you don't let food control you, nor do you feel like you need to control food. Food is just food.
It's no secret that there are diets and workout plans that educate on nutrition out there. Don't be afraid to question said books, resources, or programs and ask if a dietitian is behind the nutrition component. I urge you all to seek a registered dietitian for all nutrition related advice
Source: Satter, E. What is normal eating? Ellyn Satter Institute. Link