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  • Dina Cohen

Is This Normal?!

Have you recently asked yourself (or someone else) whether this is really happening?

Is this NORMAL?!

Oxford defines normal as "usual, typical, or expected." Compared to life a couple of months ago, life during COVID-19 is very far from usual, typical, or expected. And yet, you might find yourself adjusting to a new sort of normal: new routines, new practices, and new ways to manage. This is a good thing. It would not be helpful to freak out again every single day. It doesn't mean we are happy about it; it means we are surviving.

We have the amazing quality of being able to be flexible and adapt to new situations. We can learn to get used to things even if we don't like them. We can recognize that accepting the current situation doesn't mean that we can't also hope for better times.

We can hope and pray for a partner, a baby, a cure...and learn to live life in the meanwhile.

Flexibility allows for accepting the situation and working with it, even while waiting for things to get better. It enables you to adapt to the "new normal" and thus live a healthier, happier life.

People often ask me this same question about their eating.

"Is this normal?!"

Whether or not it's during COVID-19, you may wonder if the way you eat is "usual, typical, or expected."

Dieititian Ellyn Satter defines normal eating as follows:

Normal eating is being able to eat when you are hungry and continue 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 use some moderate constraint in your food selection to get the right food, but NOT being so restrictive that you miss out on pleasurable foods.

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 three meals a day, most of the time, but it can also be choosing to munch along. 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 when they are fresh. Normal eating is overeating at times: feeling stuffed and uncomfortable. It is also undereating at times and wishing you had more. 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 emotions, your schedule, your hunger, and your proximity to food.

Normal eating means that your eating revolves around your life, not the other way around. It means that you can have preferences about the way you'd like your eating to look and feel, and yet you don't make perfect eating the goal. You don't make it the primary thing in your life. Your LIFE is primary. Your work your eating around it.

Just as it is helpful to be flexible and vary our routines and tasks in response to life events, such as our current circumstances, it is also beneficial to be flexible with your eating. Both will help you have a happier, healthier life.

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