Are you a diet perfectionist?
I work with women all the time who struggle with this area of perfectionism. As a “recovering” diet perfectionist, this struggle is near and dear to my heart.
Generally, a diet perfectionist sees great results and feels completely in control for a few weeks or months.
And then…the real struggle starts.
Whether it’s a stressful job, big life change, move, or even just a social event–something gets you “off” of your perfect record. After all, many women with the perfectionist mindset have trouble getting back “on track” making healthy choices after their streak of perfection comes to an end.
But the truth is, nobody can be perfect forever.
Part of living a healthy, happy and balanced life includes breaking free of perfectionist diet patterns that simply don’t work long-term.
10 Signs You’re a Diet Perfectionist
- Typically begin your new program on a Monday?
- Want to “speed up” the process by eating less than what the program recommends or exercising more to reach your goals?
- Expect to suffer with your new program and feel deprived?
- Enjoy the thrill of eliminating certain foods or entire food groups?
- Battle strong urges to eat unhealthy foods or skip exercise?
- Use the words “good” or “bad” to describe certain foods and your eating behavior?
- Fall off the wagon when you have a bad night, sometimes even after just making one unhealthy food choice?
- Struggle with feelings of guilt, thinking that you could be doing better?
- Believe the motto “no pain, no gain” is true?
- Convince yourself that past failed attempts were from lack of effort and/or not staying focused?
If you answered YES to at least one of these 10 questions, you may need need to consider developing a healthier relationship with food.
Ultimately, are you ready to escape the all-or-nothing diet perfectionism trap?
Overcoming Diet Perfectionism: 4 Strategies
Overcoming Diet Perfectionism Strategy #1:
Find structured flexibility. Maintaining a structured plan that helps you make wise and healthy choices without being “all-or-nothing” is key. Choose a healthy lifestyle program such as BeyondFit Life and follow the general nutrition guidelines. A healthy diet structure gives room for freedom and flexibility. Which means you’ll be able to listen to your body, honor your hunger and work towards reaching your goals. If you don’t have a structure, you’re left guessing. Which leads to erring on the side of hunger and deprivation to get your results. Finally, if your structure is too strict–without the flexibility to adjust based on hunger, energy and cravings or pick and choose foods you enjoy–you’ll never be able to follow the program long-term.
Overcoming Diet Perfectionism Strategy #2:
Avoid moral language. Using the words “good” or “bad” to describe you, your food, or your behavior leads to diet perfectionism. Instead, choose the words “healthy” or “unhealthy.” The words “good” and “bad” convey judgment and can easily mean “good me” and “bad me.” We often reward ourselves when we’ve been “good” and punish ourselves when we’ve been “bad.” Furthermore, these words promote the all-or-nothing pattern that you’re trying to escape.
Overcoming Diet Perfectionism Strategy #3:
Use “for-the-most-part” thinking. Establish a range for your goals–both with exercise and nutrition–to allow for more flexibility. Whenever you attempt to do something EVERY day or always, you set your sights on perfection and it becomes unachievable. The moment you don’t reach your perfectionistic standards, you feel as though you’ve blown it. For example, for the most part, “I will focus on eating protein and produce at every meal” is a healthier goal than “I will always eat protein and produce at EVERY meal, EVERY day.” Of course, the problem with an EVERY or NEVER goal is that when you miss it just once, you fail to reach your weekly goal and feel more frustrated.
Overcoming Diet Perfectionism Strategy #4:
No forbidden foods. The best way to keep cravings under control is to give yourself permission to have them on occasion, without guilt, as part of your program. In essence, when no foods are off limits, you’ll automatically be less likely to overindulge and to stick to your program without feelings of failure. Read more about this here.
In summary, with practice, and ironically, allowances for imperfection, you can develop a healthier relationship with food.
Of course, It’s not as glamorous as the “hardcore” perfectionistic dieting or the “all-or-nothing” approach. But it is based on solid behavioral science.
Most importantly, overcoming diet perfectionism gives you something even better: a way of eating that works for LIFE!
P.S. It’s time that we change unproductive behaviors and DITCH the DIET once and for all!
Our health and wellness is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Not merely an absence of disease. At BeyondFit, we believe in promoting a healthy, happy and balanced life, regardless of size. We’re not just about workouts and outward changes, but about inward changes as well. For many women, part of these inward changes includes developing a healthier relationship with food.
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