What Is Normal Eating? Take the Quiz!
Jan 13, 2023
You may have made your way to this page because you feel confused about what “normal” eating even means. You have probably endured years, or decades, of messages like “you should eat this, not that”, “that is a bad food”, and “you can have as much of this guilt-free (read: diet) food as you want”. If you have been trying desperately to lose weight by following various diets, sticking to food rules, or eating according to any kind of external plan, your hunger and fullness cues might be totally out of whack. And on top of all of this, trying to wade through the ocean of nutrition and “health” information available on the internet and social media is completely overwhelming to sort through. Whew! No wonder you’re feeling confused!
Well, you landed in the right place! We have created a normal eating quiz (guide, checklist, assessment - or whatever you want to call it) to provide you with a jumping off point for bringing more aspects of normal eating into your relationship with food.
Don’t worry if most, or even none, of these statements sound like you. For the majority of people, normal eating patterns have been completely upended by diet and wellness culture, and what we define as “normal eating” can feel like a completely foreign and maybe even ridiculous concept. Wherever you are starting off, the important thing we want you to know is that It is possible to experience the level of enjoyment, flexibility, and peace with food that comes with normal eating - yes, we promise!
To begin, you can take this quiz to build awareness around what your relationship with food currently looks like. From there, you can use it as a tool to help determine if and how you might like to spend some time and energy on healing your relationship with food.
Well, enough messing around, let’s get into it!
For each statement listed below, think about your experience with food over the last 3 months. Is the statement ALWAYS / OFTEN true, SOMETIMES true, or RARELY / NEVER true.
- My eating is flexible, and varies in response to hunger, schedule, food, and my feelings.
- I eat every 3-5 hours.
- I go to the table hungry, and eat until I am satisfied.
- I know that the way I eat says nothing about my character or moral righteousness.
- I choose food that I enjoy, and eat enough of it to feel satisfied - not just stop eating because I think I “should”.
- It is ok to eat until I feel uncomfortably full at times, and also to sometimes not eat quite enough and feel hungry again soon after.
- I give myself permission to eat because I am happy, sad, or bored, or just because it feels good. I accept that emotions are present in eating.
- I do not have to compensate for, or earn food.
- I leave cookies on the plate because I know I have unconditional permission to eat cookies again tomorrow, or I eat more cookies now because they taste so great!
- Eating takes up some of my time and attention, without taking up a disproportionate amount of time relative to other tasks. Food is only one important area of my life.
- I accept that not every food opportunity will be delicious and satisfying. Sometimes I eat mechanically (in the absence of hunger/fullness cues), sometimes I eat for function, and sometimes my meal just leaves a little more to be desired.
- I use a variety of morally neutral factors when making decisions about food and eating, and know that the importance and relevance of these factors will change from meal to meal and day to day.
- Factors may include: hunger and satiety cues, food preferences, nourishment needs, cravings, food availability, personal schedule, cost, etc.
- I generally use the framework of 3 meals and 3 snacks a day - but can be flexible and meet my nourishment needs depending on the day and my hunger levels.
- I am aware that digestion is not always regular, and in most cases, digestive discomfort is temporary and will pass.
- The human body may be a miracle, but it isn’t perfect. Sometimes digestion just doesn’t run the smoothest, and you may be left with a stomach ache or bloating. This doesn’t automatically mean you ate something “wrong”. If an issue is ongoing, seek the help of a medical professional, but sporadic indigestion is normal.
- Food and eating are generally neutral or even positive experiences for me.
- I allow myself to respond to and fulfill cravings.
- I allow all foods and know that no foods are “good” or “bad”, they are all neutral.
- Eating does not involve rigid rules or shame for me.
- I eat a variety of foods, meaning several foods from each food group over the course of a week or month.
- Your body’s nutrition needs do not reset every 24 hours! This means you can trust your body/cravings to guide you in accessing diverse nutrients over time, according to its needs.
- Food does not regularly add stress to my life.
- I seek out pleasure in food and eating.
- I throw out all the “should’s” about eating, and aim to discover what truly works for my unique body in my individual life.
- Thoughts of food subside after I eat.
- If thoughts of food are preoccupying your mind, this can be a sign of under-eating. If these thoughts naturally slip away during or after the eating experience, this is a sign of fullness or satisfaction.
- I realize that highs and lows in my relationship with food are part of the human experience.
- This involves having self-compassion when you have a lackluster food experience, a moment of food anxiety, an experience of eating past fullness or irregular digestion.
- I may eat in a way that supports my own unique health goals or conditions, without moralization or feeling shame when I don’t.
- I avoid foods only if they are dangerous, as in the case of an allergy, intolerance, or foodborne illness, a strong dislike (flavor, texture), or if they are not in alignment with my cultural or spiritual values.
- I generally aim to have all 3 macronutrients (carb, fat, protein) represented in a meal because this helps with satisfaction and maintaining fullness, but I accept that this isn’t realistically going to happen all the time.
- I eat in a way that highlights the addition of nutrients, taste, or options, vs. one that prioritizes subtraction.
- Food feels simple most of the time. It’s not a complicated math equation or wrestling match between nutrients and taste, and it doesn’t lead to an overwhelming amount of thoughts or questions.
- I am able to experience and enjoy food, and then move on.
- I trust that my body knows what to do with the food that I eat.
So, how did it go? It is very common for folx to answer sometimes or rarely/never to many or most of these questions, because that is how diet and wellness culture have taught us to engage with food and eating. If you are new to the food and body healing process, this will likely be your experience as well. That is normal and expected.
This quiz is simply a source of information to help you get curious about your relationship with food. If you answered sometimes or rarely/never to any of these statements, consider how you might explore and grow in this area. You don’t have to make changes, or “fix” these things tomorrow… or ever, because YOU get to decide what is best or “right” for YOUR individual body! Our hope for you is that over time you can shift at least some of those rarely/never statements into sometimes or maybe even often/always statements.
If you do want to work on your relationship with food, you can start by increasing awareness around your growth edges and develop the skills, knowledge, and self-compassion from there. You’ve got this! If you think some professional support would be helpful, consider reaching out to an anti-diet dietitian.
TLDR; The biggest takeaway that we want to leave you with here, is that normal eating doesn’t always look or feel one specific way. Normal eating is flexible. Normal eating is rooted in permission and freedom. Normal eating allows for variety across the contexts of life. Normal eating requires self-compassion.
What aspects of normal eating feel hard or scary for you to open up to or explore? How do you think your ability to nourish yourself would change if you made space for these aspects of normal eating in your healing journey?