10 Ways to Tell If You Are a Normal Eater


Many of us aren’t sure what normal eating is anymore . So I asked an expert.

Val Stec is not only a registered dietitian (RD), she is also a licensed medical social worker (LMSW) and a practicing therapist. She is the owner of Mindful Health, a day treatment facility in Naples, Florida, which specializes in the treatment of eating disorders and substance abuse. I asked Val how she would answer this question, “What exactly is normal eating?” Here’s her answer.

  1. Normal eating is being able to say “yes” and “no” to food in just the right balance in order to maintain a healthy, comfortable weight.
  2. Normal eating is eating when you are hungry and continuing to eat until you are satisfied.
  3. Normal eating is choosing foods you like and eating until you truly get enough — not just stopping because you think you should.
  4. Normal eating is being able to use some moderate constraint on your food selections so you get the right foods, but not being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods.
  5. Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat sometimes because you are happy, sad, or bored, or just because it feels good.
  6. Normal eating is finding a meal pattern that suits you. That may be eating three meals a day or it may be choosing to munch along through the day.
  7. Normal eating is either leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or choosing to eat more now because they taste so wonderful when they are fresh.
  8. Normal eating is overeating at times: feeling stuffed and uncomfortable and under eating at other times and wishing you had more.
  9. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your mistakes in eating.
  10. Normal eating takes up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life. It is flexible and it varies in response to your emotions, your schedule, your hunger, and your proximity to food.

Thanks, Val!

Are you a normal eater? Were you always? If you are, do you have other tips you can share. If you are not, what causes your struggle?

This information is offered for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or treat. For that please seek direct care from a health professional.

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2 comments so far. (Post your own)

#1 | On July 07, 2008, Robin Neville said:

I have a question if possible could you guide me in the right dirction? Our family truly believes our daughter in law has a serious eating disorder, however she mais maintaining her weight around 100-195 lbs, she excuses herself after eating a normal meal to go to the restroom. She comes back and always eats a few bites more, but that’s it. She no longer has her periods and has dental problems. No one knows how to address this
problem including myself , I am a Nurse Practitioner, and don’t want to alienate my husband and myself. She has 2 boys, is a teacher getting her Masters Degree, but we worry about this.Can you Help us in anyway?

Robin Neville, ARNP, MSN

#2 | On July 12, 2008, Carla Mills said:

Hi Robin,

Diagnoses and treatment of eating disorders is beyond the purpose, scope and capability of this website. But I’m sure there are a lot of other people struggling with the same issues your family is going through.

Here are a couple of links that may point you to helpful resources: SomethingFishy.com (http://www.somethingfishy.com/) and The International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals Foundation (http://www.iaedp.com/). If your daughter-in-law has an eating disorder she needs direct care from a suitably trained health care professional, perhaps accompanied by a family member who can describe the problems that have been observed.

I hope this helps.

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