Do you want to eat like a normal person?

Filed Under: Intuitive Eating

30 November 2023 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

“I just want to eat like a normal person.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this!
I don’t like the word normal – especially when it comes to how we eat.
It implies that there is only one “normal” way to eat.
What does “normal” even mean?

I prefer to use the word natural. Most of us are born natural eaters. In a diet and weight obsessed culture it’s not surprising that so many people struggle to sustain a natural relationship with food. There are so many diets and theories about food and ways to eat it causes so much confusion.

Let’s look at what disrupts our natural instinct with food and eating.

  • Dieting and trying to lose weight.
  • Restricting foods or cutting out food groups.
  • Food rules and making certain foods forbidden.
  • Ignoring hunger signals.
  • Judging food as good or bad.
  • Feeling guilt and shame around food choices.

What does a natural relationship with food look like?

Natural eating is…
Having the freedom and flexibility to choose what you want to eat based on what you feel like and how the food will feel in your body.

Natural eating is…
Offering yourself choice. You don’t need to be told what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. You are able to trust your body’s signals to tell you when to eat and when to stop.

Natural eating is…
Not depriving yourself. It is eating a wide of variety of foods that are both nourishing and pleasurable and you are able to enjoy these foods with no guilt and judgement.

Natural eating is…
Listening to your body, eating for joy, pleasure and nourishment.

Natural eating is…
Not allowing your day to be determined by a number on the scale and how “well” or “badly” you ate.

Natural eating is …
Believing that food is not your enemy and that food is there to nourish your body and your soul.

Natural eating is …
Understanding that food is comforting and that’s okay.

Natural eating is …
Less preoccupation with food and more trust with yourself.

For many years, I believed that my relationship with food was not normal. When I first started practicing intuitive eating, I turned it into the “eat when you’re hungry and stop before you’re full” diet. After reading Ellyn Satter’s definition of normal eating, I felt huge relief. It was so reassuring to hear that is okay to overeat and feel full and that sometimes we will eat for comfort. I hope that reading it does the same for you.

What is normal eating?

Normal eating…
is going to the table hungry, and eating until you are satisfied.

Normal eating…
is being able to choose food you enjoy and to 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 can 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 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.

Normal eating…
is leaving cookies on the plate because you will let yourself have cookies again tomorrow, or eating more now because they taste so great!

Normal eating…
is overeating at times, and feeling stuffed and uncomfortable … and 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 food, and your feelings.

— Ellyn Satter —

If you would like to eat like a “normal” person, think about your relationship with food, have rules and restriction served you?

If you would like to learn more about this approach, book a free 30-minute mini session.

Wishing you well,

“From our first meeting - two faces on Zoom across the world from each other, there was a sense of familiarity and comfort that was a healing balm for a lifetime of food struggles and dieting. Without realizing how much damage I had done to myself by adhering, for decades, to restrictive food plans and rigid diet programs, Xen had a way of redirecting the harsh and negative self-talk and sending me forth each week with compassion, mindfulness and a new way of seeing myself in the here and now. Gone are the maybe somedays, and if-only, and when-I’m-smaller thinking. Now I am committed to the imperfect and rocky path to listening to my body, accepting my perfect imperfections, and rejecting diet mentality. Those negative voices will revisit me from time to time, I know, but Xen has offered valuable tools for meeting each day as a fresh start - another choice, another chance. Her devotion to this work and her belief in her clients is a remarkable gift; I am so fortunate to have found her. It is never too late to let go of the drama and embrace joy, ease and self-acceptance.”

Karen L, Denver, USA

“I felt hopeless and helpless in my daily struggle with mindless eating for many years. Then I found Xen which is exactly what I needed! My decision to work with her helped me to finally repair my relationship with food. It's changing my life for the better, one day at a time. Now I have control over the food, instead of it having control over me, which is the way it should be. I highly recommend Xen to anyone who has a desire to overcome similar food struggles. Xen, thank you from the bottom of my heart!”

Karen J, Colorado, USA

“I reached out to Xenia because 2021 started on a tumultuous note for me. Between deaths, businesses suffering, hospitalizations, and job losses in our personal circle, I felt depleted and found myself being available for everyone but myself. Then I was hit with an unexpected health diagnosis, which was the last straw as it meant giving up “healthy foods” and workouts that I leaned on for my well-being and stability. Despite working in wellness (Yes, coaches and healers are vulnerable too!), I found myself reaching out to desserts for comfort. I like to live a life of permissions (not labels or deprivation leading to bingeing), so I wanted to work with someone who approached healing from a place of mindful compassion. I didn’t want to be my own client. Xenia was great in reminding me to be kind to myself. Working with her, brought me peace and helped shift my mindset. I love how desserts and I look at each other now.”

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Daniela Velásquez, Ottawa, Canada

“Working with Xen was a game changer for me. After working together for a few months my relationship with food radically changed. I no longer felt like a failure. I now have the tools to nourish my body with foods that feel good in my body. I don’t feel guilty about eating cake or chocolate, I also don’t overeat cake and chocolate. I no longer feel the need to exercise to compensate for my eating. I feel much more free around eating and I am more accepting of my body. Xen has a nonjudgmental and compassionate approach to coaching and really supports you in the process.”

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Diana, Vancouver, Canada

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Certified by The Life Coach School Certified and Trained by The Original Intuitive Eating Pro Professional Member of The Center for Mindful Eating