What does "normal" eating even mean?

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So the first question that usually comes out of people’s mouths when I say the phrase “normal eating,” is something along the lines of “what does ‘normal’ eating even mean?”

Like, most of us “get” that there are people in the world who
don’t really think about food,
and just eat what they want,
and naturally end up eating an “appropriate” amount food without really trying,
because they don’t really care about food that much to begin with. 

but we don’t understand how.

“What are they doing that I’m not?!”
“I don’t understand people like that!”

It took me a really long time to understand and emulate “normal eaters,” and that’s because I was approaching “trying to be normal” in all the wrong ways.

I was trying to control myself, trying to do something different with food, trying to “eat when hungry and stop when full” or whatever other way I was trying to “do” normal eating. 

But the reality of the situation is, “normies” aren’t doing “normal eating.”
There’s no “way” they’re eating, that you haven’t heard of before.
There’s no “trick” they’re employing, that you’ve never heard of.

They’re not doing anything.

“Normal eating” isn’t something a person doesit’s something a person thinksFurthermore, “normal eating” is not defined by how or what a person eats, but rather, by how one feels about themselves. 

If you’re “okay” with how you’re eating, how you’re eating is “okay.”
Conversely, If you’re “not okay” with how you’re eating, how you’re eating becomes “not okay.”

(And we all know what happens when we cross that line of “not okay.” All hell seems to break loose.)

The point is, it’s how you feel about what you’re eating that makes the difference, not what you’re eating in and of itself.

When you judge your performance around food — when you decided that there’s an imaginary line in the sand where “okay” ends, and “not okay” begins — you will inevitably cross that line, and probably lose your shit.

“Normies” don’t have a line to cross. If they eat a big dinner, they eat a big dinner. No big deal. If they have a cupcake in the middle of the day for no reason, they eat a cupcake and move on with their lives. If they eat an entire bag of chips in a sitting, they eat the bag and then think “ughg I need water,” and get over it.

What they eat has NO bearing on their self-esteem. It means nothing.

THAT is the difference between “Normies” and Emotional Eaters — it’s not what they’re doing, it’s how they feel about what they’re doing.

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Why “taking a warm bath” doesn’t keep people from eating…

photo (1)The most common way that people try to “end emotional eating” (and btw, it’s very unlikely that you will ever “end” emotional eating entirely— even the most natural eaters in the world eat emotionally sometimes), is by attempting to replace emotional eating with another coping mechanism (e.g. “call a friend” or “take a warm bath” instead).

However, this “replacement” technique often backfires.

Why? Because most dieters (or newly ex-dieters) are out of practice in dealing with their feelings in other ways, and when dealing with stress or discomfort, usually want something easy andfamiliar. In other words, stressful situations are not often the most realistic time to take away your go-to coping mechanism. 

Additionally, sitting on your hands trying not to eat over stuff (or beating yourself up for eating over stuff), often sends people into deprivation mindset, which often leads to rebellious binge-eating in the long run.

So what’s the solution?

Practice new coping mechanisms, without the unrealistic expectation of “not eating” right away. 

That is, practice new coping mechanisms regardless of whether or not you also use food as a coping mechanism when things get hard.

This allows you to diversify your coping mechanisms and sharpen your self-care skills, without falling into diet-mentality around emotional eating or setting yourself up for failure when emotional eating feels like your best option.

When we get into the habit of taking care of ourselves in diverse ways, regardless of whether or not we also “use food,” food naturally become less and less of a “go-to” over time, because our reliance on food as our exclusive coping mechanism becomes less and less.

Today, commit to practicing new methods of self-care, and letting go of the guilt if emotional eating still pops up. A focus on adding new coping mechanisms, rather than subtracting, is more realistic, and less likely to lead to rebellion in the long run.

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The “New Age Thinking Will Make Me Thin” Diet

unicorn4Today I want to talk about the last diet I ever went on before I actually threw in the towel on dieting for real, and that was,

The “New Age Thinking Will Make Me Thin” Diet. 

For those of you not completely saturated in “wellness culture,” this is the hot new diet on the block. 

In it’s various versions, such as…

The “Spiritual Fulfillment Makes You Thin” Diet
The “Positive Thinking Makes You Thin” Diet
The “Body Acceptance Makes You Thin” Diet
The “Meditating, Writing In Your Journal, or Healing Your Relationship With Your Mom All Make You Thin” Diet

Or my personal favorite…The “When You Stop Trying To Lose Weight, You’ll Lose Weight” Diet.

Right…because the Universe is an evil genius, and is actively trying to fuck with you.
I say, when you stop trying to lose weight you’ll just be happier and whatever weight you’re probably meant to be, but that’s another post for another time. 

These “diets” are usually honest attempts by life coaches to help women overcome compulsive or emotional eating — however, these attempts may or may not work, and do run a substantial risk of backfiring if weight loss is posed as the goal, or if someone feels shamed or wronged for their emotional eating patterns.

These “diets” may also be well-intentioned, albeit misinformed, attempts by health professionals to explain why a perfectly healthy person might not be within a BMI range of 21-25. 

(Contrary to popular belief: lots of healthy people have a BMI of greater than 25

Now, while I do believe that healing your relationship with your mother, working towards more positive thinking, and/or making peace with your body, are all probably good ideas whether you lose weight or not,

am concerned the weight loss motive and messaging of this “diet” may be keeping some women from fully making peace with food.

Because of lot of my readers mistakenly think I AM a new-age-thinking-diet-guru, I feel compelled to address this issue —

I worry the “New Age Thinking Will Make Me Thin” Diet may be keeping women from fully enjoying true, honest, body acceptance, which in my opinion is a requirement for ending the diet-binge cycle and feeling truly comfortable around food.

I worry that women are continuing to judge their food, their behaviors, and generally experiencing a lot of emotional deprivation on account of their weight loss goals.

I worry that this way of thinking promotes the very dangerous and stigmatizing idea that one’s weight is an indicator of their mental health…when believe it or not, super happy, spiritually fulfilled and mentally healthful people come in all shapes and sizes.

I worry that women are being made to feel like failures when their attempts at improving their mental or spiritual health do NOT produce permanent weight loss.

I worry that women are not doing the deep-level body image work they need to do to move on from their obsession with food, because they believe a magical-thinking solution will one day make them thinner.

And ultimately, I know that the new-age-thinking diet is still an active attempt at body control, which could very well lead to frustration and rebellion (i.e. binge-eating) in the long run.

Hope that clears up my stance on this popular diet trend!

And if you’re like my good friend Gina, who after reading this post had no idea what I was proposing instead of the New-Age-Thinking-Will-Make-Me-Thin Diet, what I’m proposing is…

ACTUAL body acceptance, without the side of “but please God make me thin.” 

In ACTUAL body acceptance, you have a far better chance of truly healing your relationship with food, and ultimately, arriving at whatever weight is natural for you — whether that be up, down, or the same, I don’t know… every BODY is different.

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“I MUST lose weight to feel better about myself”

When I ask women why they want to lose weight, they almost always tell me…

“because I want to feel better in my body.” 

which is such a funny answer to me, because I know that how we feel in our body has nothing to do with our weight…I feel a million times better in my body today than I ever did at my lowest weight, and I’m at least 30lbs heavier now than I was then.

Here’s a little story to make my point even clearer: 

There are two woman, who both weigh 160lbs.

One woman recently lost 50lbs, she’s down from 210lbs; the other, recently gained 20lbs, she’s up from 140lbs.

They are the exact same size today.

But one feels thin, sexy and beautiful as she compares herself to her former self, and the other feels fat and unattractive.

Anyone who saw them both today would say they look exactly alike, although in their own minds, they feel completely opposite. 

What does this tell us about “feeling fat” vs. “feeling thin?” Well, for starters, anyone can “feel fat” or “feel thin” at any size. 

Your weight does not determine your body image;
your weight does not determine whether or not you “feel good in your body,”
your weight does not determine how sexy you get to feel,
your weight is actually irrelevant. 

It’s your perception of your weight that dictates how you feel about yourself. Not your weight itself. 

If two women can look identical, and feel completely different about themselves, that means, the “problem” of feeling badly about yourself is in your mind — not on your ass. (Tweet it).

This may seem obvious, but over and over again I hear women say that they “need” to lose weight in order to feel good about themselves.

And that’s just fucking bullshit. 

What if the answer to feeling badly about yourself wasn’t losing 10lbs; what if the answer to feeling badly about yourself was a shift in perception? 

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