“Everyone else goes out and has nachos and margaritas and stays skinny. If I eat that, I blow up!”
“My friends are able to have a bite of dessert and then not eat the whole thing…I can’t do that!”
“The rest of my family doesn’t worry about dairy or gluten or sugar, it drives me crazy that I’m always asking for special foods!”
As a Health & Psychology of Eating Coach I hear statements like these all the time, and they are always followed by:
“I JUST WANT TO EAT LIKE A NORMAL PERSON!”
Before we dive deeper, let me tell you: I GET IT!
It makes sense to want to go with the flow, eat what everyone else is eating or whatever is being served. It’s easier! It let’s us feel connected to the people we’re with and we don’t have to make waves. So I truly understand the desire to “eat like a normal person.”
But for those of us who struggle with food, the statement “I JUST WANT TO EAT LIKE A NORMAL PERSON” is an opportunity to explore our relationship with food and our relationship with self-care.
Let’s start to unpack “I just want to eat like a normal person” with a few questions.
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but the questions will help you gain clarity in your relationship with your food and body.
WHAT DOES “NORMAL” (when it comes to eating) MEAN TO YOU?
- Does normal mean you can eat anything at anytime and have no physical discomfort or shift in your weight?
- Does normal mean you get to keep eating past being full?
- Does normal mean that you can’t just have just one bite?
- Does normal mean being on a diet (or on and off multiple diets)?
- What else does “normal eating” mean to you?
IS THERE REALLY A “NORMAL” WAY OF EATING?
- Do you believe that there is only one right way to eat?
- Do you believe that having special dietary needs makes you difficult, “abnormal” (or somehow wrong)?
HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU EAT & HOW MUCH YOU EAT?
- Do you feel like it’s too much trouble to pay attention to everything (or anything) you eat?
- Does asking for special foods or speaking up about your dietary needs make you uncomfortable?
- Do you feel challenged in listening to your body’s full signals?
- Do you dislike the attention that may come with eating mindfully?
- Does it make you sad that you feel bad about what you ate or how much you ate?
HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL THAT YOUR BODY HAS SPECIFIC FOOD NEEDS?
- Do you wish that your body was a “one size fits all” when it comes to food, that you could eat any and all food and you would feel fine?
- Do you feel frustrated that your body is sensitive and gets bloated or tired or wired after eating certain foods?
- Is it easier for you to ignore your body’s negative responses to different foods than to not eat them?
WHAT’S YOUR ATTITUDE ABOUT HAVING A COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD?
- Do you wish you didn’t have to think about food or your body?
- Do you see your issues around food getting in the way of your life?
- Do you see your issues around food and body as a doorway to learning more about yourself?
- Do you see your food issues as a symptom of deeper issues that deserve to be explored?
There’s no right answer here. Your exploration of these questions is what’s important.
My hope in leading you in this inquiry, is that you shift from wanting to eat like a “normal person” to eating like an attuned person…more self-aware, intuitive.
An attuned or intuitive eater is someone who listens carefully to their body cues. They tune into how full or hungry they are. They pay attention to what kind of food would most nourish them. They allow themselves great pleasure and contentment in their relationship with food. They don’t aim for “perfection” they aim for connection!
So, the next time you find yourself saying “I just want to eat like a normal person!”, try on this phrase instead: “I choose to eat like an attuned and respectful person!”
And, if you’d like support in creating a healthy and positive relationship with your food, let’s talk.
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Nina Manolson, MA, CHC, certified Health Coach and Psychology of Eating Coach believes that every woman deserves to feel good in her own body. She helps women create a healthy and positive relationship with their food and body so they can love their body and life! She’s the founder of NinaManolson.com and NourishedWomanNation.com
She helps busy women look and feel their best. She specializes in working with women over 40 who have tried other diets and approaches but are still struggling with their body and food. She helps women step into a new wellness paradigm that makes self-care real and do-able and turns it into sustainable healthy habits that
She’s the author of “Feed Your Kids Well In A World That Doesn’t: an everyday guide to make healthy food happen in your home and beyond”. She’s also the recipient of the prestigious Health Leadership Award from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
To get your F.R.E.E. Video Series “What to do now, when everything you’ve done hasn’t worked” by mail and receive her healthy recipes and wellness tips click here.