A new year is upon us and with that comes the barrage of conversations (in-person & social media) about people’s resolutions to lose weight, get healthy, detox, or an array of other ways to attempt to control one’s body. The methods used to attempt to carry out these resolutions often include restrictive eating, dieting, “cutting out” certain nutrients (“carbs”, sugar, gluten, dairy, or fill in the blank). Because the human body is meant to hunt for food when nutrient intake is limited; obsessing about food, eating in a non-hungry state, or eating to the point of discomfort is often a result of pursing the stated resolutions. Ultimately, many who pursue the above resolutions often feel defeated, shameful, or guilty for eventually feeding their body. This scenario is not pleasurable, yet is so commonplace in our culture today.
As a pediatric dietitian (dietitian who focuses on the growth and nutrient needs of infants, children, & adolescents), I see this way of eating and relating to our bodies as quite concerning. It is normal for children to learn how to relate to themselves and others by following in the footsteps of the elder generation. In the present day, it is now common for children as young as 10 years old to consider dieting & shunning certain food as “normal eating”. Guess where they learn that from?
Ellyn Satter, a registered dietitian and internationally recognized authority in child nutrition and feeding, defines “normal eating” –
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 undereating 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.
Copyright © 2010 by Ellyn Satter. Published at www.EllynSatter.com.
There is a huge discrepancy between how many in the culture (including our children) view normal eating and what it truly means!
I propose that we, as the adults and hopefully healthy role models for our children, consider a different New Year’s Resolution for 2017.
- That we love our bodies, just the way they are.
- That we enJOY food.
- That we enJOY sharing food with the people in our lives.
- That we stop hating our bodies.
That we stop waiting to live our lives until fill in the blank (lost weight, attained a certain size, cut out the sugar, cut out the carbs) and we start living our lives in the beautiful bodies that we have now.
If we cannot do this for ourselves, let’s at least do it for the children who are watching and learning all about how to live in this world. Let’s at least give them a chance to eat well, love their bodies, and live fully!
Thank you for reading,