Normal Eating ~ 100 Days til…

It’s the shortest day of the year.

Spring forward. On the one hand, I hate the fact that I lose sleep. On the other, I love it when it stays lighter out later!

It also starts the countdown until summer arrives!


“beeeeauuuuutiful”  Atlantic City beach

100 days to be exact


Most challenges and programs out there are about “getting in shape for summer” or “beach ready” “bathing suit ready” etc. This challenge doesn’t have to be about that. Although, as I discussed before…most of the time we get and stay motivated so that we look good. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look nice which many times results in feeling good.

I asked you the other day what your “vice” was. I was very interested to hear the responses. All of you, who claimed to have a “vice” responded with something food related.

from Wikipedia: Vice is a practice or a behavior or habit considered immoral, depraved, or degrading in the associated society. In more minor usage, vice can refer to a fault, a defect, an infirmity, or merely a bad habit. Synonyms for vice include fault, depravity, sin, iniquity, wickedness, and corruption.

It was interesting to me how many of you considered eating things like eating nut butter a bad habit. We all know too much of anything can cause you to gain weight, or even have a detrimental effect on your health. Like sugar.

We’re going to cover sugar. We’re going to cover how to make small changes that add up to big ones. We’re going to discuss how to balance your workouts, and build a program. We’re going to cover everything you can accomplish in the next 100 days. But not today. Today we’re going to take the first step and talk about normal eating.


One thing I find is that when someone tries to make too many changes too fast they end up failing. Or “falling off the wagon” if you will. I stress making smaller changes, but most people want quick, fast results. So they consult books like the “flat belly diet” or something and eat extremely clean for a week, then end up binging on candy and chips the following. Or they go too hard at the gym and after 4 days of not being able to sit on the toilet they decide “working out is not for them”.

So, what is “normal eating?”


No one said it better than Ellyn Satter, an expert on eating and feeding.:

Ellyn Satter’s definition of 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 under eating 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.

Check out Ellen for more amazing article and Psych Central for a great article on “Normal Eating.”

I never saw this until a client showed me an article they saw in the New York Times. It’s words to live by and I thought it would be the perfect introduction to this challenge.

These are the same words I preach to clients because these are the values that have helped me in my own healing. My own success. When we cut ourselves some slack, realize we are not the only ones taking part in a certain behavior and try to be a little more relaxed, we are more likely to succeed. We are more likely to take part in the healthier behaviors more often. Of course there are extremes, but that is not what I’m talking about today. I’m talking about getting back to basics.

So today…or tonight for that matter, I want you to read the definition of normal eating and think about what it means to you. How can you relate that to making whatever changes you want to make to your diet over the next 100 days.

You can share your thoughts in the comment section!

How do you struggle with normal eating or cutting yourself slack!?

And remember…this challenge is NOT only about diet and exercise! There are plenty of things in my life unrelated to that in which I want to improve upon by summer!!!

Talk to you tomorrow night!



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  • Reply Allison (Allison's Delicious Life)

    This is so, so, so, so awesome!!!!!!!!!! I think it’s so great that you shared this.

    March 11, 2012 at 7:22 pm
  • Reply Ann

    That really does make sense and maybe I should stop beating myself up for the occassional Ben&Jerrys 🙂

    March 12, 2012 at 6:16 am
    • Reply laury

      you definitely should!

      March 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm
  • Reply Amanda - RunToTheFinish

    I am actually going to write about my own experience with this later this month. i have counted calories for ages and am now on the advice of my health coach not doing so. I’m a really healthy eater, so now it’s about just choosing food I enjoy not because I have to or should…it’s been easy and hard all at the same time

    March 12, 2012 at 10:49 am
    • Reply laury

      Yes! I wrote about my experience with that before. While I feel counting calories, or macro-nutrients sometimes has it’s place–I was always against it more for the fact that it can be detrimental to progress. I you really need to gauge what portions are appropriate for you, or make sure you are getting enough of something, it’s fine for a short period of time. Once you combine that with intuitive eating you should not have to be tedious and count calories

      March 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm
  • Reply Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    Hmm, well, I think a lot of people mentioned food as vices just because that’s what we think about when reading blogs. Also, we have to make “food choices” so often that yes, we can slip up more frequently than with other choices in life. Thanks for the tips! We’ll see if I have the will to be “normal” at any given point in time. By the way, I think that other vices are just as important to address… and if I had to think of a couple, it’d be not being able to leave my skin alone when it gets bad and freaking out a lot when I get just slightly overwhelmed.

    March 12, 2012 at 11:28 am
    • Reply laury

      Oh absolutely. I totally understand why people would mention only food on my blog!

      Ad picking at skin or biting nails are definitely vices I see people struggle with!!

      March 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm
  • Reply Alisa

    I do hate daylight savings, but it does feel like we’re over the hump heading toward summer! If only the weather could figure that out here 🙂

    Nut butter, a vice? Weird. I guess if you eat half a jar. I love some in the morning – just the right amount of protein/fat to keep me going.

    I struggled with added sugars (including the healthy ones!) for a while – not eating them in what most people would call excess, but too much for my body. Cutting it out completely created challenges and “not fun” cooking (even salad dressing is better a little sweet!), but I think I’ve found a nice balance now.

    March 12, 2012 at 11:52 am
    • Reply laury

      I know… I was like nut butter…really!!?? 😉 I only eat about a tablespoon at a time, unless I make a batch of almond butter cookie balls then who knows how much I am getting!

      And sugars–definitely something I think most people struggle with! You just should get SO little, and it’s really hard not to between natural sugars and treats. It’s important people sometimes recognize that [which in regards to the other comment about calorie counting is where I would recommend it!}

      March 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm
  • Reply Lisa@Healthy

    I definitely agree that when deciding to change the way you eat, you can’t make too many changes at once. You have to start slowly because it’s a long process and truly takes time to learn about different foods.

    I never really struggled with normal eating. I always had good eating habits. Of course I would stuff myself beyond full sometimes, but that’s about it.
    I’ve only struggled with sweets. I could never limit myself around then and would always go overboard on them. I’ve eaten so much candycookiesdessert that it makes to sick to think about it!

    Now I still have my sweets, but only in moderation and not everyday! Sugar is so bad for you in large amounts!

    March 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm
    • Reply laury

      Sounds like you are pretty normal!

      March 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm
  • Reply Lisa

    Great post—it’s really an interesting topic to contemplate. I definitely have food on my mind (for myself and clients) most of the time…
    The term “normal” is one of those things that throws me off—only because it’s hard to describe what “normal” is and that it’s different for everyone.
    In my own mind, normal eating is being able to make food choices rationally and eat quantities of food that are needed by the body—my un-normal eating experiences usually involve eating things out of stress or the crave-y foods that block my ability to interpret signals about hunger/fullness from my body.
    It’s so ongoing…but I’m dedicated to eating normally. It feels so darn good to be balanced about food (and you know I’m all about the no/low sugar and high fat—that one change has been revolutionary to my mind and my body!).

    March 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm
    • Reply laury

      That’s an interesting point, Lisa!

      “normal” may not the same for everyone, even at every point in their life. I loved that definition though in a general sense of “normal.” I think many people get too caught up in eating perfectly that it ends up sabotaging them!

      March 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm
  • Reply Wendy

    Well it’s odd to think of Dr. Pepper as “immoral” as in the above definition. hahaha. But that is my “vice” I think. Well soda in general actually. That is the one thing I want to beat during the 100 days till summer challenge. I find since my 2-year-old was born, I’ve depended on caffeine way too much. Even with coffee. I get an instant pep, but a few hours later I crash. I want to be rid of it completely. I know I can do it, but I’m scared of the withdrawal symptoms.

    Not to mention, I know all that soda sabotages my weight-loss attempts. I like how the article talked about the word “should”. I must say that ten times a day that I “should” do certain things. It’s very overwhelming to try to be what is basically perfect. I have to let go of the perfection mentality.

    March 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm
    • Reply laury

      Hahaha…immoral, probably now. Although I am sure there are some crazy health nuts that would call it that. Not me though 😉

      Yes. Letting go of the perfection mentality is the best step you can take to cutting back on your “vices!” Talking about that next!

      March 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm
  • Reply thehealthyapron

    I LOVE That quote! IT sums up EXACTLY how I eat and it is what has prevented me from going back to my old ED ways! It’s also a great reminder, especially now. I am glad you started with this type of post because it’s important for people to realize that eating normally is NOT about having the ultimate willpower…it’s about getting over and moving on when you might not have eaten the healthiest. Love this!

    March 12, 2012 at 7:34 pm
    • Reply laury


      March 12, 2012 at 10:28 pm
  • Reply Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner

    Thank you thank you THANK YOU! 🙂

    March 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm
  • Reply Pure2raw Twins

    ya for almost summertime!
    I wish I could eat more normal. right now with me trying to figure so many things out for my skin and health, I am a little limited. I feel there is a different normal eating for everyone since everyone is different 🙂

    March 12, 2012 at 10:05 pm
    • Reply laury

      “normal eating is flexible” You should read Ellen Satter’s definition above! So amazing! 🙂

      March 12, 2012 at 10:27 pm
  • Reply Perfection ~ 99 Days til….

    […] things to different people. We are all different. However, we can all benefit from reading Ellyn Satter’s definition that I posted last […]

    March 12, 2012 at 11:36 pm
  • Reply Kary

    Sometimes I think there is way too much emphasis on what’s normal that it skews people’s views and puts too much emphasis on food and can lead to obsession and abnormal food habits. I’m not sure if this makes sense or not?
    I just wish everyone would eat when they’re hungry and then stop obsessing over it. Life is so short! I know I’m probably in the minority when I say that I don’t crave “junk” and I eat a minimally processed, organic and whole foods diet so maybe this makes my food philosophy easier for me to follow. But I honestly don’t think of food very much. I eat at mealtimes and enjoy sitting down to dinner with friends and family, drinking lovely wine and socializing. I never understood the anxiety that people say they have about deciding what to eat and I never understood the guilt people say they have after they eat “bad foods”. I think talking about it too much perpetuates abnormal food behaviors. Sometimes I even think the whole Healthy Blogger thing makes it worse by constantly bombarding people with food and associated thoughts about them.
    Do you know what I mean?

    March 14, 2012 at 1:10 pm
    • Reply laury

      I actually disagree with you on the “normal” thing but agree with you on the other stuff you said.

      I believe people obsess too much on being HEALTHY that they forget what’s “normal.” What you just described sounds pretty normal to me in regards to what and how YOU say you eat. If people focused on being “normal” they, like you, wouldn’t think about food as much as they do. I know I write about it a lot on my blog, and I love healthy food, and like you I don’t crave junk so in a way I don’t really “get it” when people HAVE to have Burger King or a bag of Frito’s, etc. But I’m also in the minority so I love teaching people about healthy food in hopes of one day it’s just second nature. Where they don’t have to sit and think about what they should eat and obsess about food, etc. Everyone’s different and some people reading healthy blogs will make it worse, but for others it will help them!

      It really starts at childhood if you think about it! I remember as a kid playing outside all day, coming in for lunch, playing, coming in or dinner, then outside again until it got dark. My parents used to make us sit at the table until we cleaned our plates which is totally wrong. I remember one time my brother and I sitting there until 7 o clock and he threw up peas because he was full but had to clean his plate. My parents did that because their parents did it to them and they thought it was best for us to get all the nutritious food not realizing WE knew when WE were full and had enough! If we allow our children to tell us when they are full, they never lose that intuition. Many of us lose that while we are kids {especially people that think letting kids be kids includes soda and processed things loaded with sugar} and it leads to so many food issues as adults. If we started out just eating wholesome foods, minimally processed, with “treats” that weren’t made a big deal of as a reward, just because you now?– it would just be second nature….and like you….as adults we would just eat “normally.” Something so many people have lost touch with!!!

      I could go on and on about this! But in short–I know what you mean and I see what you’re saying. How do we get people to stop obsessing, but at the same time teach them or inspire them to choose whole foods, while showing them it IS easy and CAN be second nature and you DON’T have to obsess over it????

      ETA: Yes on the guilt over “bad” foods too. I meant to say above I know I write this blog and you may not believe me but I really don’t think about food all that much or “obsess” over it. I definitely used to. Now I pretty much eat the same things, and I have no issue eating something that may not be “good” for me in a healthy moderation. I really don’t even think about it if I eat a lava cake or some cookies because I eat pretty balanced. One thing that irks me with some of my friends is when they are constantly obsessing over what they should eat, asking me what they should eat, in a way where I KNOW that ALL they think about is food 24/7 because it’s ALL they EVER want to talk about or ask you about. It makes me sad because it is frustrating. Which may seem a little hypocritical coming from a HLBer who posts about food/ healthy eating a lot but it really is to me!

      March 14, 2012 at 1:34 pm
      • Reply Kary

        I definitely was not meaning for it to come across as though I thought you were obsessing over foods. And that’s true about the being “healthy” thing-I guess I just sort of took your definition of “normal” as people trying to be healthy.
        I’m sorry about your experience with eating as a child. I did not have this kind of experience at all. I ate pretty much whatever my Mom made (which wasn’t organic or anything but I think it was pretty normal food-starch, veg and meat) and then snacks when I was hungry. I hope that because of your experience you are able to instill better feelings about food in your daughter and encourage her to eat what she wants for nourishment and support her on whatever she chooses is best for her (which I’m sure you will).
        Great discussion.

        March 14, 2012 at 5:50 pm
        • Reply laury

          Oh no I didn’t think you were saying that at all! I was just saying in general about being a blogger that talks about health etc. 

          I grew up similar starch, veg, meat… Just we always had to clean our plates because our parents wanted to make sure we ate well not realizing we were intuitive, not just being difficult because we hated veggies or something! They weren’t awful or anything just trying to be good parents how they thought they had to be! And yes I will be taking that and applying what I experienced to my daughters eating habits. Even now when she eats I have to remind everyone to let her stop when she wants and let her feed herself. Sometimes my mom and MIL are concerned shes not eating enough, and sneak bites in her mouth, but that baby knows when she’s full so i stress that and us following her cues 🙂

          Def a good discussion! I’m typing on my phone because my computer died though so this is to be continued…..;-)

          March 14, 2012 at 9:57 pm
  • Reply Sophia

    Hi Laury,

    I just stumbled upon your blog today and was skimming through recent posts. This post made me want to cry! I struggled with an eating disorder through college, and although i’ve been in ‘recovery’ for about 2 years, i still have to make a conscious effort to eat ‘normally’ and not try to deprive myself. I’ve been struggling with this the last couple of weeks because Spring (and bikini season) is here, and this is just what I needed to read to give me a boost and a reminder to be gentle with myself. Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. <3


    March 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm
    • Reply laury


      This comment made me smile, thank you. I am so happy you are working and have been working on recovery. I know how hard it is to quiet those thoughts and it sounds like you’re doing a great job! Once I realized all of those things I was on the road to recovery myself. You will need to remind yourself often, but you can do it and you are!! I wish you the best. <3

      March 23, 2012 at 10:07 am
  • Reply A Battle Worth Losing

    […] wanted to point out that although I am talking about the dangers of sugar overall…it isn’t “normal” to always pass it up and refuse food that is good for the soul every now and then. I actually […]

    April 6, 2012 at 11:43 pm
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