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5 Ways to Eat Like a 'Normal' Person (That Dieters Just Don't Get)

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If you need to be reading this, you know exactly what I mean when I say the words "normal" eater. If you're a "weirdo" about food -- a calorie-counting, binge-eating, chronic-dieting weirdo -- you've all probably seen "normal" eaters in action, and thought to yourself, "How the hell does that woman just eat a single bite of a cupcake and leave the rest on her plate?!" Or, "Why does she get to eat whatever she wants and not care, while I have to count every calorie and sit on my hands trying not to eat the whole bread basket when I go out to dinner?"

I get it. Been there! And after years of studying, I've discovered the fundamental mentalities of "normal" eaters that are keeping you from freedom with food. Buckle up.

1. Normal eaters generally don't plan their food in advance. They eat when they're hungry, or when dinner time rolls around, and they don't think about food in between those times. They don't worry about what they're going to eat for dinner for hours before they get home from work, and they don't spend time creating elaborate meal plans (e.g., "For the next three months, I'm eating 3 oz. of lean protein and 1 cup of vegetables for every meal, with two fruit snacks at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. every day"). Lame.

2. Normal eaters have a life in between meals. That is, in addition to not planning, they don't fantasize about food, dieting and weight loss all day long. They think about what they should get their boyfriend for his birthday or how they're going to celebrate that new promotion -- not whether or not they should try to sneak a stale cookie from the corporate kitchen, because God knows when they'll ever be able to eat cookies again.

3. Normal eaters don't think they're doing anything "wrong" when they eat something that might not be the best for them. What I mean is, normal eaters don't attach moral judgement to what they're eating. They don't think the whole world is going to judge them for eating a doughnut in public, and don't "sneak eat" cookies in the middle of the night. While they generally make healthful choices because that's what feels best to their bodies (and thus that's what they legitimately want) they're not sent into a frenzy when they do eventually have a bite of dessert or the occasional side order of fries. It's no biggie.

4. Normal eaters eat when they're hungry and stop when they're full, and usually eat what sounds good to them in the moment. Are you having a "duh" moment? The number one objection I get from women when I tell them the benefits of a "non-diet" approach to eating is, "If I wasn't constantly on a diet, I'd gain a bajillion pounds." Not so. Eating like a "normal" person means making decisions about food based on your body's natural biological wisdom, rather than external cues that make you feel like you're in prison. Your body knows exactly how much food you need to maintain a weight that's healthful for you. That is the biological function of hunger -- to remind animals to eat (because otherwise "normies" might forget... for serious).

5. Normal eaters practice a variety of coping mechanisms and don't turn to food to get them through the day's discomforts. This is the single most important thing to understand about normal eaters, and probably the thing most of you are scared you can't do. Normal eaters trust that if they let themselves eat what they wanted, they wouldn't fall into a bread basket that they weren't able to swim out of. They're able to do this because they've been practicing coping with life's "triggers" using non-food-related comforts. I promise this can be learned.

If you'd like to learn more about ending emotional eating, download my guide "How To Not Eat Chocolate Cake."

For more by Isabel Foxen Duke, click here.

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