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How to Think Like a “Normal” Eater

  • Eating

I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that “normal” eaters think differently about food than you do. Research from Cornell University’s online Global Healthy Weight Registry, designed to “find out how thin people are able to maintain a healthy weight for their entire lives,” lays out their commonalities. (“Skinny folks share their secrets in a study” by Marilynn Preston, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 3/15/16, E16)

It’s important to note that the study’s conclusions were drawn from a very small sample, 147 adult volunteers, and that they were both thin and healthy. Please note that I’m not promoting thinness here, only health, because thin does not equate to health.

Here are some statistics from the study’s “healthy and thin responders”:

  • 96% report eating a healthy breakfast
  • 90% exercise, with 42% doing it five or more times a week
  • The majority make sure to eat vegetables at dinner and salads at lunch
  • 92% say they’re mindful of what they eat
  • Nearly half say they never diet and the majority of the remainder say they do it rarely
  • “Mostly they just say no to going Paleo, or joining Jenny Craig, or doing cleansing fasts”

The study’s conclusion is that diets don’t work long-term. Well, we knew that. Here are a few other tips. Cook more at home. You’ll have more control over what you eat—and save money too. Keep away (for the most part) from processed foods and eat as much “real” food as possible. Eat smaller portions and use smaller plates. Pick one behavior to change at a time rather than try to change all your eating habits at once. Plus, a small study at Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab suggests that “people snacked on double the number of calories when standing in a messy kitchen compared to being in an orderly one.” Of course, this could be a correlation only. However, chaos does cause stress, and stress often causes people to overeat (and probably eat mindlessly as well).

Follow the above tips to see if they bring you closer to becoming a “normal” eater. Make your goal improving your relationship with food and getting healthier, not weight loss. Notice which of the above suggestions are easier for you than others. Try each one (one at a time) and assess which ones make a difference. To change your behavior, you will need to change your thinking. And practice, practice, practice.