How can I know if my eating patterns are normal?

Normal eating can really be defined by three words: variety, moderation and permission.

Studies show that the more varied a persons diet is, the longer they may live and the fewer chronic diseases they may have. When we eat the same foods day after day we short-change ourselves the opportunity to have the different nutrients that occur in different foods. Even in the same food group the nutrients we receive may be different. Take, for example, the fruit group. A banana and an orange are both fruits but the orange is very high in vitamin C while the banana is a much greater source of several B vitamins. It is a good idea to eat both an orange and a banana during one day for variety.

Moderation in eating means we don't really overdo or underdo anything. For example, eating very little protein will not allow the body to repair muscles or create new red blood cells. Eating too much protein can be harmful to the kidneys. If carrots are never eaten we miss out on a great source of betacarotene, Vitamin A and fiber. If we eat a one-pound bag of carrots, our skin will turn orange and we may end up with vitamin A toxicity. Even water can be a problem. If we don't drink enough water we will become dehydrated however, if we drink too much water our body becomes over-hydrated and this may cause body systems to shut down.

If we do not give ourselves permission to eat certain foods these foods may become a problem in our lives. Think of human nature -- if we tell ourselves we can't have a certain food, many times we start to think about that food a lot. This is what happens if we have food categorized in to good and bad lists. When we eat one of those "bad" foods we feel guilty, beat ourselves up for it and may even eat more of that food than desired because we are thinking we are never going to have it again. lf we give ourselves permission to eat what we want, in moderation and include variety in other food groups daily we will be able to have "normal" eating.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.