You don’t need to find a label or category when it comes to healthy eating. Just simply eat, and savor the experience.
Healthy eating can mean a lot of different things depending on who you ask. And in the warped world we live in, we often end up in a flurry of judgment and “should’s” when we talk about healthy eating. But instead of calling it healthy eating, let’s call it normal eating.
Because ultimately, being a normal eater instead of a “healthy” eater is the healthiest.
So what exactly does being a normal eater look like? Normal eaters can order a salad at lunch because that sounds and feels awesome. They can also order a burger and fries at lunch the next day, and eat until they’re satisfied because that sounds and feels awesome too. And one is not good or bad, each meal is what it is and doesn’t need to be defined or categorized.
Normal eaters don’t need to label themselves Paleo, low-carb, vegan, keto, or gluten-free (unless you have a medical condition indicating dietary changes). They make choices that align with their values and make them feel best to them physically, emotionally, and mentally.
They just choose what they choose.
“Healthy eating” does not socially isolate the normal eater. They don’t hesitate to commit to social plans based on their food situation; conversely, social settings don’t lead them to a, “What the hell, I’ll eat whatever” mindset where they end up making food choices that leave them in a puddle of guilt and shame. Food is part of how they socialize, not the deciding factor of their social life. They have hobbies and interests outside of food, and their weight or pant size doesn’t preoccupy their minds and become their identity.
Normal eaters don’t reward, nor do they punish themselves with food.
They eat something because they’re grown adults who can choose to freely eat whatever they want, and not eat what they don’t want without needing a reason to justify the food choice. Normal eaters can recognize that sometimes overeating is a part of life, not the end of their life. They can observe how they feel, become curious, and learn from the experience. They are able to withhold judgment, knowing they’re human and perfection is not an expectation of existence.
Normal eaters don’t care whether they ate earlier or measure how long it’s been since they last ate.
They eat when they realize they are hungry and need to make a food decision – they rely on the internal cues of how they feel and what they crave, not external regulators such as time, calories, or hours.
Sometimes they eat because it’s part of an experience or because they have a craving they want to intentionally satisfy.. That means eating even when they aren’t necessarily hungry because that’s enhances their life. They don’t make food decisions based on what somebody else is eating, and understand their needs are not the same as the person’s sitting next to them.
Normal eaters recognize there is grace and freedom to be messy, and they are forever a work in progress. They appreciate that life is fluctuating and dynamic, and know that healthy is not about how green their plate is on any given day. Some days may call for more cookies than kale, or more laying around than moving –
And that’s all simply part of the ebb and flow of life.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: BROOKE LARK
Robyn Nohling, FNP-BC, RD is a Registered Dietitian and Family Nurse Practitioner who believes that eating cupcakes and kale are both equally healthy to the body and mind. With a passion for women’s hormonal health and nutrition, Robyn cuts through the irrational noise of diet fads and unrealistic beauty expectations to help others find joy in food as it’s meant to be celebrated. Learn more about Robyn at The Real Life RD.