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Healthy Living

Normal Eating Nurtures Wellness

What is normal eating?

  • Normal eating is usually eating at regular times, typically three meals and one or two snacks to satisfy hunger. It is regulated mostly by internal signals of hunger, appetite, satiety — we eat when hungry and stop when satisfied.

How does it promote health and well-being?

  • Normal eating enhances our feelings of well-being. We eat for health and energy, also for pleasure and social reasons, and afterward, we feel good.
  • Normal eating means that food choices more likely provide variety, moderation, and balanced nutrition.
  • Normal eating promotes clear thinking and mood stability. It fosters healthy relationships in family, work, school, and community. Thoughts of food, hunger, weight occupy only a small part of day (perhaps 10 to 15 percent).
  • Normal eating nurtures good health, vibrant energy, and the healthy growth and development of children. It promotes stable weights, within a wide range, expressing both genetic and environmental factors.

How does it differ from dysfunctional eating?

  • Dysfunctional or disordered eating patterns are irregular and chaotic (fasting, bingeing, dieting, skipping meals), or may mean usually overeating or undereating much more or less than the body wants or needs. Instead of feeling better after eating, the person is likely to feel worse.
  • Feeling fatigued, irritable, moody, chilled, less able to concentrate, and increasingly self-absorbed is common. Thoughts of food, hunger, and weight may occupy 20 to 65 percent of waking hours, or more. Potential health problems vary depending on the dysfunction. Risk of developing eating disorders is increased.

How do parents encourage normal eating?

  1. Offer a variety of nutritious food at regular intervals — planned meals and snacks.
  2. Help the child identify hunger and fullness.
  3. Be a good example of normal, healthy eating and lifestyle.
  4. Follow Ellyn Satter’s Golden Rule for Parenting with Food:
    • Parents are responsible for what is presented to eat and the manner in which it is  presented. 
    • Children are responsible for how much and even whether they eat.

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