|NEDAwareness 2013. Everybody Knows Somebody.|
|UCLA's Body Image Task Force is pretty awesome!|
The year was 2002 and I was in my first month of "Intensive Outpatient Therapy" at an eating disorder clinic near my college. I had just finished a group session of "calming" yoga (which was far-from-calming since the room was filled with palpably anxious young women, at least 1/3 of whom were quietly crying in Child's Pose while another 1/3 were trying to stealthily burn a shit-ton of calories by adding imperceptible calisthenic moves into our Sun Salutations. I was one of the criers). After the Corpse Pose grande finale (and some of us really did look like corpses) were all shuffled into our next therapy activity for a lesson on "normal eating."
Normal eating? What the hell is that? I remember thinking. Okay, give me the "normal eating diet" and I'll follow it, I thought. I was good at diets. But normal eating wasn't a diet. It also wasn't a list of foods, or "points," or food groups, or even levels of satiety that needed to be monitored "intuitively." Instead, it was this:
Normal eating is going to the table hungry and 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 give some thought to your food selection so you get nutritious food, but not being so wary and restrictive that you miss out on enjoyable food.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 mostly three meals a day, or four or five, or it can be choosing to munch along the way.It is leaving some cookies on the plate because you know you can have some again tomorrow, or it is eating more now because they taste so wonderful.Normal eating is overeating at times, feeling stuffed and uncomfortable.And it can be undereating at times and wishing you had more.Normal eating is trusting your body to make up for your 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 hunger, your schedule, your proximity to food and your feelings.
I won't dive into the details of why and how this "definition" (poem, I tell you. POEM!) shaped the trajectory of my recovery. Suffice it to say that I'd never been able to successfully eat "intuitively," but finally forgave myself for this after learning that normal eating takes some "time and attention" and that emotional eating isn't always disordered (indeed, mindful eating is all about pleasure and being in tune with your body!).
|Because when it comes to poetry, all you can do is TRY.|
Now you tell me: What is YOUR definition of "Normal Eating?" Can it be defined? And what's your opinion of having governmentally defined "dietary guidelines?"