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What is "normal" eating? 

Recovery from an eating disorder is more than just ending the eating disorder behaviors. Patients and their families also need to go back to normal eating patterns, but this is not a simple thing in a society that has normalized disordered eating and ideas about food. Some families started out with relaxed, pleasant, wholesome family meals before the eating disorder in the family derailed this pattern, and only need to return to that lifestyle. Other families re-examine their former routines and decide to make changes.  

Some ideas for families developing a renewed family eating culture:


Planned family meals, served by responsible adults offering a wholesome variety of food based on availability and cultural and family preferences is the norm and goal all over the world - and throughout history. For families that have experienced turmoil over meals, or need to provide structure for loved ones with a predisposition toward disordered eating, family meals can be both healing and protective. Instituting this routine is a challenge in a world that schedules activities at all hours of the day and relies on convenience foods and short-order cooking. Many families find this kind of structure requires a new set of priorities, and opportunities.

Intuitive Eating is an approach to eating with mindfulness and self-knowledge. Parents can model these skills for their families by learning the principles and incorporating this vocabulary at mealtimes. Popularized in the book, Intuitive Eating, by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD, FADA. (Not compatible with the re-feeding period)

Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding was referenced in a 2008 Position Statement by the American Dietetics Association: “Perhaps the best advice regarding child-feeding practices continues to be the DOR between adult and child advocated by Ellyn Satter.” Satter describes an authoritative approach for parents that nurtures and educates children in their individual needs and self-regulation. (Not compatible with the re-feeding period)

Health at Every Size is a non weight-based approach to healthy food and activity behaviors. HAES is not about weight gain or loss, but about finding one's unique metabolic health. This approach is gaining acceptance in both the eating disorder and nutrition fields, and under study at several research locations. A recent book by Linda Bacon describes the approach, and a growing number of websites discuss the idea. 

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F.E.A.S.T. is registered as a nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Information on this site is meant to support, not replace, professional consultation. Unless otherwise noted, content is edited by F.E.A.S.T. volunteers with assistance from our Professional Advisory Panel.

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