5 Tips To Help You Become Normal Eater Again
If you’ve been stuck in a dieting or disordered eating cycle for a long time it’s likely that you don’t even know how to eat normally anymore. I know it took me a long time to unlearn the negative controlling habits I had and relearn how to eat normally again after years of being in the binge restrict cycle. In this post I share 5 Tips To Help You Become A Normal Eater Again.
For me I started restricting the foods I thought were bad, which led to anorexia and then led to binge eating, which continued with restricting foods I thought were bad and also learning how to count calories. When I was anorexic I didn’t know how to count and I just skipped meals and ate very small amounts. Once I learned how to count I started eating low calorie, sugar free food like products and avoiding high calorie foods.
Over time I shifted the foods I was eating to vegan and then low carb paleo and eventually landing where I am today, eating what I consider to be normal for me now. It took time to let go of the perceived notion of control I had, as well as the fear of some of the foods I had. I no longer put a label on the way I eat. I just eat what makes me feels good, but also tastes good to me.
Normal eating means eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. It also means eating when you’re not hungry. Sometimes this is in celebration and because you feel happy, other times this can also be because we’re feeling sad or stressed. Normal eating sometimes means not eating when we’re stressed or sad and even forgetting to eat when we’re busy. I have to admit that I don’t think I’ve ever forgotten to eat! I love food and am a total foodie but there’s been times, especially on the weekends, where I don’t eat lunch until later as I’m busy running around.
Normal eating means choosing foods that make you feel good and support your health because you love yourself. It also means enjoying a slice of cheesecake, ice cream or fries whenever you feel like it because you really like those foods too. Normal eating doesn’t involve guilt or morality. There is no good or bad and there’s no black or white with normal eating. There’s also no wagon to get on or fall off of.
So how do we get back to being a normal eater?
Here are 5 tips that helped me become a normal eater again.
1) Stop tracking/counting/weighing: Let go of control around how much you’re eating and start to slow down. Slow down and breathe while you eat. Learn to listen to your body and it’s signals. When you’re hungry eat until you’re satisfied and understand that it’s okay if you overeat and feel full. It’s not the end of the world.
Your body balances it out in the end with less hunger at other meals. If you’ve been dieting for awhile or restricting you likely will overeat initially when you release the control. The worst thing you can do after this happens is to restrict again or use exercise to punish yourself for overdoing it. You need to be gentle with yourself and just eat at your next meal again. If you’re really full then just eat a smaller amount. Stopping the restriction breaks this cycle.
2) Start by getting on a regular eating schedule: It can be very helpful initially to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks at regular times. This shows your body that you are no longer in that “famine” mode and it can start functioning properly, as long as you are eating enough at those meals. It’s a good idea to start with eating breakfast within an hour of waking and then each snack or meal 2 to 4 hours later. I recommend starting with eating a snack between breakfast and lunch, another one between lunch and dinner and if needed a third snack in the evening after dinner and about an hour before bed.
This can change over time and you might be someone that feels better eating 3 large meals. I’m not dogmatic about how many meals you should eat in a day. This is about getting you eating regularly and breaking the restrict and binge eating cycle with food. This is about ditching the diet mentality and nourishing your body. You may notice that your digestion, sleep and blood sugar balance improves when you start eating regularly as well!
3) Stop labelling foods as good or bad: This leads to black or white thinking, wagons and brings morality into food. There is no good or bad, there is just food that makes you feel good physically, mentally and spiritually. I feel great eating a big salad loaded with veggies, raw nuts and salmon but I can also feel great eating a burger and sweet potato fries. This step needs some mindset shifting and thought changing, which is where the cognitive work comes in.
Yes, there are whole foods and there are processed foods, but it doesn’t make you a bad person if you eat something processed and it doesn’t make you better than anyone else if you only eat whole foods. It also doesn’t mean you’re going to die if you eat something processed. The fact of the matter is we’re all going to die, so we better just focus on enjoying life and eating foods that taste good and make us feel great! Finding moderation and balance that works for YOU is important here.
4) Experiment with eating foods you used to label as “bad”: This step helps with the last tip, as you can start to experience what eating these “bad” foods (that you are actually no longer calling bad ;)) will really do to you. Or more importantly what they won’t do. You won’t all of a sudden blow up and gain weight. You won’t all of a sudden get sick. This doesn’t mean you have to eat foods you really don’t like.
If you used to love ice cream and haven’t eaten it in years because of dieting or the only time you do eat it is when you’re emotional eating, then I suggest buying a serving and enjoying it. Savour it and take your time eating it. Listen to how you really feel. I mean if you’re lactose intolerant, then yes you want to avoid ice cream and all dairy. But if it’s just your mind creating physical ailments because you think this food is “bad,” try it again.
5) Stop reading information on food rules: I got stuck in this for awhile as I continued to read a lot about various health and nutrition practices. Should I interment fast? Carbs are bad, try keto. Only eat carbs at night. Fat is bad. Don’t eat carbs and fat together. Vegan is the way to go. Eat 1lb of protein per pound of bodyweight. Don’t eat after dinner. A snack before bed can help you sleep. Only eat low glycemic fruit. Ahhhh!
I would bounce back and forth between various things and not listen to my one and only true nutrition guru, my body. We all know what we should eat. We all know that whole foods provide us with more nutrition than processed foods, which contain things like industrial seed oils and corn syrup. Stop reading so much contradicting information on nutrition and start focusing on how food makes you feel.
Go from there and you’ll learn what feels best for YOUR body. Do you ever wonder why there are so many ways to eat out there in the first place? It’s because it worked for someone but just because it worked for someone doesn’t mean it will work for you. We are all biochemically unique, so you need to figure out what works best for you and stop following other peoples rules.
Hopefully you found these 5 Tips To Help You Become A Normal Eater Again helpful. I help client’s in my 3 month program break away from food fears and learn to love the food they eat and their bodies. If this interests you, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free discovery session. I’d love to hear from you!