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When you break out from dieting and restriction and start trying to eat “normally,” you might be somewhat self-conscious about whether you’re eating right. By that I mean, if you’re eating as other “normal” eaters do. You may wonder if it’s okay to eat the same foods repeatedly or if you’re supposed to crave variety. You may be unsure if eating at set times is acceptable or if you should eat only when you’re hungry. You may believe that you either have to fall in love with food or have a nonchalant attitude about it.
You'll find your answers day by day, food by food, meal by meal. In part, your answers will be based on how you feel about eating in general. Some people simply put little attention on appetite. They eat to live and are easily satisfied with the basics and an occasional food frill. Others adore grocery shopping and cooking, and are constantly searching for new recipes. People who hate to cook might love eating out or go with what’s easiest to make. Some eaters look forward to set mealtimes and enjoy a nicely set table; others grab food intuitively throughout the day and feel satisfied.
“Normal” eating is not represented by one person’s appetite or by one style of eating. Eating must suit your lifestyle, income, access to food, schedule, cooking skills, nutritional and social needs. Some of how and what you eat will be dictated by your personality. There are people who love change: they never vacation in the same spot twice and switch jobs, hairstyles, and even residences often. Other people find comfort in ritual, familiarity, and sameness, and dislike variation from routine. Once they find a vacation spot they like, they return year after year. It makes sense that the variety lovers will enjoy trying lots of different kinds of foods and might get bored eating the same thing repeatedly. It makes equal sense that the routine lovers will be content eating pretty much the same thing day after day.
Remember that “normal” eating is based on following four simple (but not necessarily easy rules)—eating when you’re hungry, choosing satisfying foods, eating with awareness and enjoyment, and stopping when you’re full and/or satisfied. Beyond that, there’s nothing to say that you have to eat in any particular way for “normalcy.” The more you practice these four rules and find peace with food, the less you’ll worry about the “shoulds” of eating because you’ll be doing exactly what’s right for you. The best way to know what’s “normal” for you is to stay tuned to your appetite and do some experimenting to see what works. Don’t worry, your body will tell you!
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