Healthy Eating for Your Active Lifestyle

The normal eater  

Inside and outside of my work as a dietitian, I’ve been intrigued by the normal eater. You know those people – they’re the person in the Starbucks line that order a vanilla latte – that’s it, just two words. Not a non-fat, sugar-free, half sweet, vanilla latte. Just a plain old vanilla latte. One day they get salad with a burger and the next week they order fries, just because they feel like it, not because they ran an extra mile and deserve it. They don’t eat according to what their weight was that morning or ascribe to a set of clean eating rules. And the most amazing part - they are comfortable in their skin.  

Now maybe this seems a bit far-fetched, but I’m guessing you have friends that come to mind when you read this. Or perhaps you resonate with this – in which case, kudos. But for those of us who struggle in our relationship with food, fearing what it will do to our weight, what it will do to our health, the terrors of gluten and the perils of red meat, is it possible for us to move towards a healthier relationship with food? 

Do you have a healthy relationship with food? 

The following behaviours can help you gauge where you are at when it comes to having a healthy relationship with food.

1.Trust your body
Trust is the pillar of any healthy relationship, including your relationship with food. Trusting your body means you can rely on it to tell you when and what to eat. This is in contrast to relying on the clock, waiting a specific number of hours between meals or following rules of what to eat.

2.Honour hunger and fullness
This is closely related to trusting your body. To honour your hunger and fullness, you need to trust your body to tell when you are hungry and when you are full. If you have been dieting or restricting food for a long time, this will be difficult. But it’s worthwhile to tune in to these cues!

As an aside, honouring your hunger doesn’t mean you only ever eat when you’re hungry. If this was the case, there would never be room for pumpkin pie after Thanksgiving dinner. But hunger is the main driver behind eating.

3.Think in the grey
Some things in life are black and white – eating isn’t one of them. There are no good foods and bad foods, clean, and by default, unclean foods. Thinking in the grey can look like pizza with salad, ice cream one night and blueberries the next, steel cut oats and Honey Nut Cheerios® sharing the same grocery cart. All foods fit. 

4.Eat for enjoyment
Eating shouldn’t be a time of anxiety or dread, but rather an enjoyable part of the day. In order to enjoy eating, you need to be able to honour hunger and fullness to prevent crazed hunger or eating until stuffed. Listening to appetite and recognizing that all foods fit helps you choose foods you like. Being mindful while eating helps you slow down and acknowledge the act of eating.

5.Practise gentle nutrition
Gentle nutrition recognizes that certain foods contain more nutrients than others. However, it also recognizes taste and pleasure in eating. How do you strike a balance? Pay attention to how your body feels. Do you feel heavy and tired after a meal or energized and satisfied? Choose foods packed with nutrients that you enjoy, and prepare them in tasty ways. For example, making grilled vegetable skewers as opposed to another night of raw veggies. As well, recognize that the food you eat in one day or one meal will not impact your health. 

*Many of these signs are part of intuitive eating, a great way to foster a healthy relationship with food.

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Kristina Isaac, RD.

Registered Dietitian

Kristina (BSc, RD) is a registered dietitian and blogger for Nourish Move Thrive. She enjoys finding creative, fun and simple ways to communicate the science of nutrition.

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