I used to eat weird combinations of foods like rolled up turkey and cheese slices as a meal. Sometimes just a half of a bagel with no cream cheese and lots of celery sticks and carrots that, of course, never made me feel full.
When I saw other people order a sandwich with potato chips, I thought they must be the type of person that didn’t have to watch what they ate. Lucky for them! But I didn’t envy their food as much as I envied how easy it seemed for them to order it.
They didn’t take long to make their mind up about what they wanted to eat. They got their food, sat down at a table, and ate it… like it was no big deal.
And when these “normal eaters” were finished eating, that was it. They didn’t seem to be obsessing in their head that they could’ve made a better choice.
I, on the other hand, usually ate on-the-go or standing at my kitchen counter top to get it “over with.” And, when I ate outside the house, it took me forever to decide what to eat to stay “on track”.
There’s that “track” again!
Falling “off track” with food usually ended in a mindless binge for me. This would end up triggering the whole cycle all over again and I would end up searching for yet another plan. One day, I ran across The Self Compassion Diet by Jean Fain. Something really big hit me when I read this…
“If you’ve ever had your eye on the dieter’s prize—rapid weight loss—you know it’s easy to lose sight of the long-term goal. Nope, I’m not talking about losing another ten pounds or squeezing into smaller jeans, but achieving a healthier relationship with food. You know, eating normally. I’ve dug out my favorite definition of normal eating by nutritionist Ellyn Satter from Madison, Wisconsin.
‘Normal eating is going to the table hungry and 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 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. 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 mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way. 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 overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. And it can be under-eating 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 important area of your life. In short, normal eating is flexible. It varies in response to your hunger your schedule, your proximity to food, and your feelings.’”
Here’s the thing. You might think that if you could just stay “on track” and eat only the foods you think you “should” be eating, that you will get what you want. But “the track” leaves no room for flexibility. It’s black or white, pass or fail. And you’re always going to “fail” because it’s a totally unsustainable way of eating and being.
I finally stopped fluctuating between three jean sizes when I did the work to tune into my body and embrace my full range of eating: everything from kale to cookies.
This is normal eating. Not freaking out.
Next week, I will share with you my tips on, like Satter said, trusting your body to make up for your “mistakes” in eating. You know, like when you eat cookie dough and crash and crave more sugar. How to get out of that loop–no biggie!
I’m always wishing you more ease in your eating and your body. I hope you find this helpful!