What does Eating Normally Mean?

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." ~Voltaire

         Food – it’s the body’s fuel, it sustains us, helps us celebrate, comforts us, tempts us, and is everywhere.  Both those dealing with obesity and those dealing with eating disorders worry about what they are eating, when they are eating, and how often they are eating.  Companies market foods in ways to entice, and nutritionists focus on educating people about food’s benefits.  In the United States, we have become a society pre-occupied with food on many different levels.  

           Dancers are individuals who constantly judge themselves and those around them harshly and are prone to developing poor body images.  While not all dancers may have full-blown eating disorders, it would be difficult to find a dancer who does not think twice about the quantities of food he or she consumes and how it will affect the size and shape of his or her body.  While dancers need to be educated about healthy eating, they also need to know that food should never be judged as “good” or “bad” or cause feelings of guilt.

            Registered dietician and social worker, Ellyn Satter developed a definition of “Normal Eating” that is worth sharing so that dancers realize while there are times to eat healthy to fuel their sport, there are also times to eat for fun,  to celebrate, or just because!  The secret for healthy eating is knowing what to eat when….

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. Also see http://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org to purchase books and to review other resources.Copyright © 2012 by Ellyn Satter

         In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Month, and in an effort to promote healthy eating, The Healthy Dancer is hosting a giveaway in collaboration with Julia Erickson and Aaron Ingley at Barre.  Julia and Aaron are professional dancers from Pittsburg Ballet Theatre that developed a food bar that dancers could depend upon to supply energy, would be easy to digest, would contain only all-natural whole foods, and would taste good.  They began making barres in 2010, and they continue to supply dancers and athletes with a good tasting, wholesome snack that provides real energy.  The barres come in three flavors:  black swan chocolate berry which combines cocoa and cranberries, pirouette cinnamon pecan which pairs cinnamon with nuts, and ballerina spirulina which contains coconut and spirulina.  One lucky winner will receive 6 bars in our giveaway – 2 of each flavor. 

Here's what you need to know to enter:

1.     To be entered, you must comment on this post telling me your favorite energy food AND your favorite celebratory food.
2.     The contest ends on March 6, 2013 at 11:59 PM, EST.  Comments posted after that time will not be considered eligible entries.
3.     You must subscribe to our email list, as winners will be announced through this blog via email. 
4.     The winner will receive 6 Barres – 2 black swan chocolate berry, 2 pirouette cinnamon pecan & 2 ballerina spirulina.
5.     Due to shipping restrictions, winners can only be selected from those with a valid shipping address in the Continental United States.
6.    The winner will be chosen in a random drawing and announced through an email via The Healthy Dancer and on the blog.
7.    The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email to claim the prize and submit a shipping address.  If the winner fails to respond within the 48 hours, another winner will be randomly chosen.
8.   By entering this contest, you agree to the above terms and confirm that you have a valid shipping address in the Continental United States.