There is no one true way to eat for optimal health. This has been said in countless ways before. We are all biochemically unique, and as such, have distinct nutritional needs. What works for you diet-wise won’t necessarily work for me and vice versa. Sticking to the same diet probably won’t work for you within the span of your entire life either.
It’s a fallacy to think there’s one diet out there that’s perfect for everyone. But because there are so many Perfectionists among us (myself included – I’ve written about my perfectionist tendencies HERE) we push ourselves to find it and feel guilty when we “fail” to adhere to it. If we don’t eat “perfectly” (which could mean anything from only raw vegan to meaty Paleo and everything in between) it’s not good enough. And our sense of self-confidence and self-esteem may falter.
When we approach eating as Perfectionists, we use words like, “should”, “ought to”, “have to”, and “must”. Categorical words that leave no wiggle room. All it leaves room for is guilt to enter.
Now, what if we took a more realistic approach to eating instead? One that’s guilt-free and leads to a greater sense of satisfaction. This is the Good-Enough diet approach. Are you in?
Are you in?
Before you decide either way, let’s clear one thing up first. Good enough doesn’t mean not doing enough or becoming apathetic (i.e. I can never be perfect, so I’ll eat that entire jar of Nutella). It means dropping unrealistic expectations of perfection and replacing it with the best possible solution or choice given the reality of the circumstances. For example, if I’m going to a family gathering at a buffet restaurant, I’ll make the optimal choice I can for myself based on what’s there. This is good enough. I won’t not eat nor will I gorge on things I know aren’t good for me – I can try a bit to satisfy the urge and then move on with my life. And if I do go to a buffet and end up overeating and potentially feel sick afterwards, I won’t beat myself up about it. I’ll accept what happened (maybe chuckle at myself) and learn whatever I’m supposed to learn from the experience.
"The good-enough diet entails moving from a perfectionist fantasy to an optimal, good-enough reality."
The good-enough diet is a realistic approach based on your own needs, genetics/body type, lifestyle, and habits. Moving from a perfectionist fantasy to an optimal, good-enough reality. You’ll put in the effort and be conscientious about what you’re eating, while at the same time, you’ll recognize that you are human and it’s alright to yield to what’s happening in your life.
With the all-or-nothing mindset Perfectionists have there is no healthy middle ground. Either you eat “perfectly” or you’ve fallen off the wagon so might as well have a whole pizza to yourself type of attitude. This comes from feeling an overwhelming sense of failure that needs to be punished. And the kicker is that when you’re in this guilt/punishment state, you likely won’t even experience any enjoyment in eating that whole pizza.
"Drop the 'No pain, no gain' philosophy. It isn't needed for you to be successful."
Drop the “No pain, no gain” philosophy. This belief in suffering isn’t needed for you to be successful. The ultimate reward you’re seeking won’t come from you having suffered or because you made sacrifices. Promise!
So, to outline the good-enough approach to eating (and life) with a few tweetable tweets:
Move from unrealistic expectations of perfection to seeking the best solution from a realistic set of choices.
If we give in to temptation, we’re not bad or weak, we’re human.
We need to fail and make mistakes a bunch of times to grow.
Accepting our imperfections means we’re growing.
See it as a gradual evolution, not instant-gratification. It’ll take time and patience. And that’s OK. The changes will come.
Guilt is stagnant useless energy that blocks us from enjoyment. Its only purpose is to scare us back into old patterns that keep us stuck. Same goes for self-hatred and regret.
Being kind to ourselves is the antidote to negative self-judgment. Forgive and accept that we’re each doing the best we can because we’re not perfect. When we relax and are gentle with ourselves, we’ll do better.
Life isn’t all or nothing. Learn to bend and yield, don’t be rigid and closed.
As a holistic nutritionist, a lot of people expect me to adhere to the “perfect” diet. If I’m not eating perfect all the time and not in perfect health then I must not know what I’m talking about. That’s their all-or-nothing mentality. It’s been very freeing to adopt this good-enough approach to eating and in my life in general. I’m doing the best I can with the knowledge I’ve obtained. As I’m learning I’m sharing it all with you. With this shift in my expectations, the pressure is off, which makes me feel energized and light.
Will you join me? Say “yes” and include your thoughts about this good-enough approach in the comments section at the very bottom of this page.
References (and my many thanks to):
Ben-Shahar, T. The Pursuit of Perfect: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Start Living a Richer, Happier Life. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print. (http://www.talbenshahar.com/?CategoryID=165)
Dooley, M. Life On Earth. Carlsbad, CA.: Hay House, Inc., 2016. Print. (http://www.tut.com/other/lifeonearth)
Rodegast, P., and Stanton, J. Emmanuel's Book. New York: Bantam Books, 1989. Print. (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/545265.Emmanuel_s_Book)