How I Learned To Eat Like A Normal Person

Like any self-respecting Jewish girl, I gained weight on my Birthright trip the summer after my freshman year of college. Buuut, I carried the habits I developed in Israel for far too long after the trip was over. When I say habits, I mean overeating. And when I say overeating, I mean eating approximately one thousand snacks before dinner and then not being hungry once dinner finally came. But then after dinner, I’d feel sad that I didn’t get to eat so then I’d binge on one thousand more snacks, and probably eat those standing up because if I sat down that would make it too legit and I wouldn’t be able to convince myself that I wasn’t eating an actual meal. You know, those little habits. 

I knew that my problems with food were beginning to hold me back from “reaching my full potential” or just like, not being a total bitch because I was so miz. That’s what I found when my sister (who I may or may not have been taking my anger out on) threatened me into seeing a dietician. Ugh. 

First Impressions

A dietician? This felt like a total failure. Plus, I know what to do—I’m a vegetarian after all. I just didn’t have the self-control to follow through with any of it, and I was embarrassed by that. 

However, after Googling “dieticians near me” and scheduling my first visit with Ashley Cronin, Registered Dietician at From The Heart Nutrition (and formerly MetroWest Nutrition in Massachusetts, where I saw her), I learned that seeing a dietician (like her, at least) was actually the polar opposite of all of the shameful horror stories I’d dreamt up, like getting kale thrown at me after stepping on the scale to check my BMI (still don’t even know what a BMI is, btw).

She told me that she wanted me to be able to eat whatever I want. This was honestly scary to hear—I wanted her to give me a solid plan and structure to follow. WTF was this crunchy granola BS of not hating myself and the food I put in my body?? I needed to be punished!!! 

But my dietician helped me realize this way of thinking and shaming oneself is not uncommon, and in order to be healthy and happy, I needed to totally change my mindset. “People think, ‘I should know better,’” Ashley Cronin RD, who focuses on intuitive eating, says. “But the truth is, once we start creating rules or following a diet, we swing way too far to one side, which is too restrictive. A normal response to that for any human or animal is to swing all the way to the other side of it [aka binge].” She calls this “The Diet Pendulum.” And yikes, was I on it. 

Ashley went on to explain, “We feel like we need a diet because we don’t trust ourselves. So we keep buying into the diet, but every time we buy into it, we fall off since it’s too restrictive.” This was totally me. Not that I was on any kind of specific diet, but I’d literally limit myself to like, one piece of avocado toast for lunch, two veggie burgers for dinner—which is not enough food, especially for someone who works out a good amount (#humblebrag). No wonder I turned into Regina George on those Kalteen bars anytime I was around food. I felt like I had to eat everything right then and there, because, in my mind, I was like, “never again for the rest of my entire life will I allow myself to eat chips because of how ‘bad’ I was last night!!!” Hahahah.

Learning Like, A Lot

Hearing all of this from a professional really, really helped. It made me feel like all of my eating behaviors and thoughts weren’t so crazy after all. “We know that diets don’t work,” asserts Cronin. “It’s not the fault of the person—the research supports that it won’t be successful. But people love the idea of a plan.” 

There is RESEARCH that supports my (many) failed yo-yo dieting attempts??? WOW. (Sidenote: maybe the next time I’m uninterested in like, cleaning or cooking I should just say “the research supports that it won’t be successful.” Just a thought). 

“It’s about healing your relationship with food and your body and starting to find self-care practices that work for a lifetime versus fad diets,” Cronin explains. “If eating healthy doesn’t feel like self-care, there’s no reason to do it and it’s not attainable.” Freaking. Duh. 

Feelin’ Normal(ish)

I’m definitely not, like, the Mrs. Intuitive Eating Kween that wants to make it seem like, “oh em gee, if you just listen to your body and intuitively eat you can be perfect like me!!”. It still takes patience and thoughtfulness to mentally get to where you want to be. However, I will say that since seeing Ashley, my relationship with food has totally changed. By allowing myself to eat more, I no longer turn into a psychotic monster at the end of the night who’s basically ready to crawl inside my own refrigerator just to see if there’s anything left for dessert. 

I eat dessert guilt-free, I eat more food, more often, and I’m not scared of eating out. I definitely still fall off track sometimes—mostly if I’m hungover or traveling or just if it’s Sunday (or all of the above…)—but it simply does not get me down like it used to because I no longer feel like I need to punish myself for it the next day. I’m a free betch! 

Finding A Dietician

If you live in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, you can work with Ashley yourself! Contact her here or at [email protected]. If you live outside of those two states, you can find a dietician who shares her philosophy through the Intuitive Eating Counselor Directory here. You can also check out the Health At Every Size website for more resources that follow a weight-neutral approach.

Images: Ali Inay / Unsplash; Giphy

Sydney Kaplan
Sydney Kaplan
Sydney Kaplan is a fashion creative and copywriter, and most importantly super relieved she doesn't have to write an annoying, corporate bio for her freelance writing gig at Betches. She's based in NYC and previously lived in San Francisco, and through her travels has learned she prefers finance bros to tech nerds. You can follow her on all social media at @sydneyrekaps.