Here’s how you know if you’ve turned “try to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full” into the “Hunger and Fullness” diet (as Elizabeth Foxen Duke so aptly calls it):
Ask yourself if you'll freak out if you break "the rules."
It'll go like this:
If you are “on” the Hunger and Fullness diet and you eat when you aren’t hungry, you’ve committed a grave mistake.
You messed up.
Why do you always mess up, anyway?
You’re probably going to keep messing up so you should probably just have a cookie.
Why did you eat that cookie? You’re going to get fat. Ugh.
If, on the other hand, trying to eat when you’re hungry is just something-you-mostly-do, because, well, it-mostly-makes-you-feel-good, then if you eat when you’re not hungry….then you just ate when you weren’t hungry.
And if you’re not on some sort of “diet,” then eating when you aren’t hungry isn’t a crime.
You just ate when you weren’t hungry.
Everyone does it.
And either it made you feel good—in which case: great job!—or it didn’t make you feel good. And if it didn’t make you feel good, you’ll try not to do it next time because you enjoy doing things that make you feel good.
Because you’re not living a diet. You’re just living life. And it’s okay to do things you often-but-don’t always do.
Because, uh, we’re not machines. You get me?
I'd love to hear from you in the comments: Do you turn every eating style into a "diet"? If not, what do you do to help remind yourself that it's okay to live without hard-and-fast rules?