A Taste of Eating Competence

What is it like for you to put together a meal with food you really have a taste for? What is it like to eat as much of that food as you want? We all have food we like, and it needs to be in our life. The good news is that research with the Satter Eating Competence Model shows that people do better when they feel good about their eating, eat enough, and eat what they like at regular meals and snacks. They are healthier, eat what they need, and eat as much as they need.   

When you are a Competent Eater, you go by what your body tells you rather than going by the rules for what and how much to eat. Here is what it means to be a Competent Eater:

  • You plan for feeding yourself and pay attention when you eat. You have regular meals with food you enjoy and sit down for snacks between times if you need them.
  • You feel good about your eating. You enjoy your food, and feel good about enjoying it.
  • You think about what you want and let yourself eat it without feeling guilty. As time goes on, what sounds good changes, and you eat those foods, too.   
  • You let yourself eat as much as you are hungry for and trust your body to weigh what it needs to.


There are guidelines, but they have to do with how you eat, not what and how much you eat: Have meals, have planned snacks (not just eat and drink as you go along), pay attention, and enjoy those meals and snacks.

Go to meals hungry, have food you enjoy, tune in while you eat, and eat as much as you want. Then stop, knowing another meal or snack is coming soon and you can do it all over again!

For more about eating competently (and for research backing up this advice), see Ellyn Satter's Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: How to Eat, How to Raise Good Eaters, How to Cook, Kelcy Press, 2008. Also see www.EllynSatterInstitute.org/store to purchase books and to review other resources.

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©2016 by Ellyn Satter published at www.EllynSatterInstitute.org. You may reproduce this article if you don't charge for it or change it in any way and if you do include the for more about and copyright statements.