As a Registered Dietitian I often get asked the infamous question, “Which diet should I follow to help me lose weight?” The questions may be phrased differently depending on the season, such as “how do I get a beach bod” or “how do I lose those extra holiday pounds.” I find that generally everyone is focused around one simple yet ever so complicated question; “Is there a correct way to eat so I can look and feel my best?”
The answer, however, is not so simple. Many factors play into dietary needs such as: gender, age, metabolism, activity, and stress, just to name a few. Eating right is different for everyone and in the age of fad diets and conflicting information, I have a little saying I like to stand by.
Written by a Registered Dietitian, Ellyn Satter lays out normal eating in a way that I think is most appropriate. Straying from percentages, calories, or macronutrients, the focus is more around the three words I like best: moderation, balance and variety.
Here is a little food for thought (pun intended) on what normal eating means to me.
“Normal eating is being able to eat when you are hungry and continue 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 use some moderate constraint in your food selection to get the right food, but not being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods. 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 three meals a day, most of the time, but it can also be choosing to munch along. It is leaving some cookies on your plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful when they are fresh. Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. It is also under-eating at times and wishing you had more. Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for 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 emotions, schedule hunger, and your proximity to food. – Ellen Satter RD
Although often sought after, there is no perfect or scientific way to eat. So whether you find yourself trying to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain a healthy lifestyle, remember that all foods can serve a purpose and can fit into your everyday eating habits.