Castlewood Eating Disorder Treatment Center Blog

What is Normalized Eating? Balancing Nourishment and Pleasure

There is a term that we often use in eating disorder recovery—normalized eating. It certainly sounds good, but what does it mean? The first thing to understand is that, for those who struggle with an eating disorder, the experience of eating is attended by intense shame and anxiety. It is a normal, everyday thing for most of us, but for those who have an eating disorder, eating a meal can be imprisoning. That is what makes it so important to provide a new relationship to food and to eating—what we call normalized. Normalized eating means you get to enjoy your food without those feelings of shame or anxiety. You get to eat without judging yourself, and without feeling afraid. Normalized eating hinges on a couple of key principles—nourishment and pleasure. It means consuming food because you need its nutrients, but also because you simply enjoy it. Both are equally important; it has only by balancing them that you can experience normalized eating. Implicit in this is a sense of variety. In a normalized attitude toward eating, all foods fit. Moderation is implicit, as well. With normalized eating, you can enjoy all different types of food; you can listen to your body about when you need to eat and when you need to stop. There is a social impact, too: Normalized eating allows you to be flexible in joining other people for a meal, truly enjoying the experience without fretting about what you are eating. That goes right back to the point about balancing nourishment with pleasure—and ensuring that eating is something freeing, not something that imprisons you. Learn more about Castlewood’s nutritional philosophy in detail here. Do you have any thoughts to add? Share them with us on Facebook!