This seems like a loaded question with many different answers, and may make you wonder if there is such a thing. The passage below is one of my favorite because it approaches eating from a balanced perspective. In our current world of extreme and fad diets, it is refreshing to see a sensible approach to eating. As a student I have studied Ellyn Satter’s approach to wellness and nutrition and believe she is paving the way for eating and enjoying food. She has wonderful resources available regarding joyful and competent eating, please see the links below for more information.


What is Normal Eating?

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.

For more about eating competence (and for research backing up this advice), see Ellyn Satter’s Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook, Kelcy Press, 2008.

©2015 by Ellyn Satter published at – See more at:


Take some time today to think about your own eating. Does it seem similar to this passage, or is it hard to relate? What would it be like to eat this way, what do you think would change in your life? My challenge to you is to think about these questions, and try out normal eating for one day. You may find you like it.