Inside Scoop: No one is perfect, and no diet is perfect, so here are our top tips to help you overcome perfectionism and find balance with food in 2019.
Being 100% all the time rarely works for everyone, yet, it’s something most of us strive for.
Perfection, being right, being accurate, being socially accepted, not failing, are concepts that drive human beings to aim for that 100%. We push ourselves, we stay up late working when we know we should be sleeping, we make perfection a priority, we compare ourselves to those who hold our idea of perfection, and when we don’t get it right we feel like we’ve failed.
Here’s a reality check though, when you strive in excess to be perfect, it ultimately becomes a draining and stressful task, and can have adverse health effects.
You know why? Because, nobody is perfect.
Everyone has faults; it’s part of the human psyche. Everyone makes mistakes, and perfectionism is something that’s unachievable, especially because the idea of perfect is completely subjective. There’s always room for improvement, and everyone has a different idea of what perfect means.
It doesn’t mean we don’t try, and this is precisely what we did when we graduated with our nutrition diplomas. Perfectly ‘clean’ in terms of our health and well-being, as well as our clients’ health and well-being, was our end goal.
We had big ideas of growing self-sustaining gardens, having chicken coups and living completely waste-free. We wanted to save the world and everyone’s health, one conglomerate at a time. We spent all of our money on organic food, making sure there was no sugar, grains or dairy in our bodies, everything we consumed was ‘toxin-free’, and we literally obsessed over the fact that if we touched processed food, it meant that it could determine our future- a predicted future of illness and disease.
To us, that’s what perfect health looked like, that is, until we realized that our idea of 100% clean, and 100% healthy was actually putting our health in jeopardy.
We were stressed, we would end up at parties avoiding food because we were unaware of what it contained. We started to look at food as a negative thing, constantly avoiding and constantly vilifying anything that didn’t adhere to our strict nutrition standards. We could see it in the way we were writing and the way we were talking about nutrition, it was judgmental and patronizing, we needed to find a way to overcome this perfectionism trap we were in.
Our unhealthy obsession with clean eating dictated our lives, and it took a while to become educated about the negative side effects that it could potentially have on us, if you’re interested in learning more about this, click here.
HOW TO LET YOURSELF OVERCOME PERFECTIONISM WITH FOOD & FIND BALANCE
A LITTLE BIT OF PERFECTIONISM IS OKAY!
Perfectionism doesn’t have to be a negative thing in its entirety. It’s what motivates us to address our flaws, to become better people, to drive us to accomplish our goals, and it’s okay to strive to be the best person that you can be.
But when perfectionism and obsession blends into the same concept, it can have daunting effects on our minds, physical bodies, home lives, and our work ethic.
For us, addressing it and letting go of the idea that health had to be a specific way became important. There needed to be a balancing act between motivation, drive and relaxation, or between nourishing foods and foods we eat for pure enjoyment. We had to figure out a way to overcome perfectionism in order to be healthy, happy with a touch of ‘naughty’, so that it’s less about obsession, and more about enjoyment.
STAY MOTIVATED, BUT LET GO OF 100%
Work hard and do what you need to do to get to where you need to be, but always check in with yourself if you’re feeling pushed, like you can’t keep up, or if you’re on the verge of breaking down. This is your body’s way of telling you to slow down.
Our bodies were designed to be able to deal with an element of stress, but our biology is still stuck in the past. If we run on our stress response every day, all day, we eventually burn out. When our adrenals are constantly stimulated, our body’s cortisol levels can become unregulated. Excess and unregulated cortisol levels can set us up for other hormonal imbalances, mood disorders, brain fog, weight gain, uneven energy throughout the day, sugar cravings, sleep disorders, digestive issues, pain and inflammation.
The human body was not designed for the 21st century’s style of stress, but we can now recognize this, and find balance with these simple tips.
How to it slow down in 2019: Take an hour out of your day and make sure you do something for yourself, whether it’s a Netflix episode, a good book, a bath, a massage, a yoga class, meditation or even just a walk in nature. Give yourself the time you deserve, and a break from all the mental clutter.
FOCUS ON BALANCE BETWEEN HEALTHY, WHOLE FOODS, AND PURE PLEASURE FOODS
Our motto is try your hardest to ditch the junk, and opt for whole or fresh foods cooked from scratch, but that’s not to say it must be 100% no junk and 100% whole foods.
Our cupboards consist of prepackaged foods that make our lives a little bit easier. Sometimes we grab a branded stir fry mix, with frozen veggies. Other times we make that stir fry mix ourselves. It’s really a balancing act.
And while we’re fans of the 80/20 rule, we like to think of it as more of a guideline than something to strictly adhere to. We’re advocates of an occasional glass of vino and a bit of dark chocolate, these treats make us smile and bring balance to our day.
As a matter of fact, rigid diets often fail to educate about the importance of nourishment and can lead to a struggle with food. ‘Cheat day’ foods or ‘guilty pleasures’ can often become laden with a side of guilt. You feel bad when you eat the food you aren’t supposed to, and negative emotions can lead to binge eating and lack of control.
Take the chemical cholecystokinin, for example. When you consume protein or fat in a meal, this chemical is produced, and triggers a pleasurable sensation in the brain. Not only does it create this wonderful sensation, it also has the ability to shut down appetite, and increase digestion. So, even science says that you should allow yourself to enjoy foods, because it’s our biology.
How to enjoy foods with balance in 2019: This year embrace well-balanced meals without any guilt. If you feel like you need to have something sweet, do so, and fully savor every bite of it. You’re more likely to enjoy it in moderation and eat less when you give yourself permission to do so. You can learn more about the program we developed to bring balance, nourishment and simplicity back into your life by visiting the N5Diet here.
TRY TO NOT LABEL FOOD AS ‘BAD’
In order to overcome perfectionism with food, we have got to stop labelling food as ‘bad’ or ‘good’.
We don’t look at ourselves as being naughty because we eat chocolate and drink wine, we use the word naughty because we don’t adhere to strict diet rules, or intense clean eating guidelines.
Like we mentioned above, when you see certain foods as bad, you start to feel guilt when you eat them. In reality, it’s about the choices we end up making with food, rather than the good vs. bad. Yes, white flour, excess sugar, preservatives and additives aren’t the healthiest choices, but don’t get down on yourself if you have them from time to time. When you start to understand how your body needs to be nourished, and what foods to start feeding yourself to make your body feel good, the rest falls into place.
How to keep eating positive in 2019: When you’re mindful of what you’re eating, you slow down and allow your food to be fully enjoyed by your body and brain. You begin to feel healthy and happy because you’ve enjoyed everything you put into your body. Also, chewing slowly and savouring every bite helps you come to a feeling of fullness much earlier than you normally would. You don’t overeat or end up feeling bloated, just healthy and happy.
‘PORTION CONTROL’ IS ACTUALLY JUST A GUIDELINE
To overcome perfectionism with food, we don’t follow strict portion rules or calorie counting, but we do have some guidelines that we like to keep in the back of our mind. Some people find success at weighing out each and every meal, but we just don’t believe that it’s something that can carry you throughout your life.
Generally, we try to put down our forks when we’re about 80% full. We veggie load our plate, aim for 1/4 plate of complex carbs, 1/4 plate of protein and 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fats. But, again, these are just general guidelines. Once veggies start to overtake your kitchen domain, the guidelines become a natural reaction, and something you hardly have to think about.
Skip the calories and get a grasp on better portion control in 2019:
Check out this infograph on portion control, and keep it in the back of your mind rather than an obsessive thought. We generally know when we’ve had too much, or when we need to slow down on the eating, use your intuition to guide you.
AND FINALLY, MOVE ON
We’ve all been there, devoured a massive chocolate bar, had too many glasses of wine, stuffed ourselves until we could barely move, or spent the day eating cookies and ice cream.
That one day, one meal, one ingredient doesn’t define your diet – it doesn’t mean that there’s no turning back, and it doesn’t mean that it’s an all or nothing. You don’t have to restrict your meals in the following days, and you don’t have to eat ‘clean’ 100% of the time, because that will only bring you back to the same cycle. Just simply let it go and move on and get back at it.
Nutrition, health, and especially weight loss isn’t black and white. Food should definitely be something that we look at and be thankful and happy for. We hope you can take these tips with you into the new year, so that you can literally have your cake and eat it too, without guilt, without worrying, but instead with pure pleasure and enjoyment.
If you want to overcome perfectionism with food, and are looking for some guidance on how to get there, our signature program, The N5Diet is all about creating simple, healthy habits that last for life!
Don’t let the word ‘diet’ fool you, this affordable program is all about removing the restrictions, listening to your body and creating healthy habits that fit your lifestyle. Oh yes, and it contains a 5 week meal plan (that allows for nights out, takeout and contains no food avoidance), and over 125 recipes with 5 ingredients or less.
Learn more about the N5Diet here.