Over the past five years I’ve witnessed many individuals repeatedly struggle with the nutritarian diet-style because of the greatly misunderstood topic of unhealthy perfectionism vs. the pursuit of excellence.
Unhealthy perfectionism entails the all or nothing, obsessive mindset of striving for flawlessness that messes in a negative way with the psyche. In the context of changing eating habits, this type of perfectionism can be felt as a burden that leads to dissatisfaction and depression if perfect flawlessness can’t be obtained.
“If I can’t eat perfectly, I won’t do it at all.”
Or . . . “I blew it. I ate a cookie so now I’ll go ahead and pig out on everything.”
Or . . . “I didn’t lose any weight this week so I’m quitting - it's all or nothing for me.”
That kind of stinkin’ thinking has to go, because it is detrimental to success.
However, like an Olympic Champion who gives 100% to win the Gold Medal, getting out of food addiction takes 100% commitment. One can’t give half-heartedly and expect to see great results. It takes complete abstinence and no compromises to get free from the entanglements of addiction.
A nicotine addict can’t smoke “just one” cigarette a day and expect to get free from, or stay out of the addiction. Nor can a recovering alcoholic drink “just one” glass of wine every day. It takes abstaining 100% from the addictive substance to get free, and then to remain free.
Additionally, it’s much easier to eat perfectly – strict adherence to the plan - and get completely rid of nagging cravings than it is to vacillate and keep them continually percolating beneath the surface; waiting to ignite at a moment’s notice. The latter is spelled M-I-S-E-R-Y, because you’re always fighting the demons of temptation. Whereas, once the overwhelming cravings are gone, the inner turmoil is silenced.
The one who strives for excellence may make mistakes in the learning process, also known as slip ups*, but those errors propel the incentive to work harder. Slip ups may impulsively happen from time to time, but they are minor and short-lived as the quest for excellence is wholeheartedly pursued with great joy and excitement!
[* A slip up is not an intentionally planned cheat: a whole vacation, an entire week, a full day, or even an entire meal. It is a small indiscretion, like maybe some bread that was not health-supporting as a part of one meal, and it didn’t create a total binge of unhealthy eating. The imperfection didn’t destroy or even interrupt 100% commitment to nutritional excellence.]
It’s absolutely necessary to carefully link days of perfect eating together for cravings to subside and then go completely away; and then it is equally important to never return to old habits in order to achieve long term success. One bite of an addictive substance can open the addiction right back up to full force.
Unfortunately, I’ve observed many who don’t want to be labeled a perfectionist (for fear of being the unhealthy kind) so they intentionally veer off the path of perfect eating just to avoid it!
That kind of stinkin’ thinking has to go as well, because those who intentionally veer off the path of perfect eating will end up in head on collisions with the Standard American Diet and never get free from unhealthy dietary entanglements. Ever. And sadly, they’ll never achieve optimal health or a quality of life either.
Ask former nicotine addicts if they smoke a couple cigarettes a day to avoid being labeled a perfectionist. Ask recovery alcoholics if they still hang out at the bars after work to avoid the label as well.
To get free, and to remain free, one has to eat almost perfectly – for life.
PS As I was taking the above photo of the scales, I couldn't help but be reminded that 2-3 years ago, junk food and candy were still somewhat tempting to me at times; but now that stuff is disgusting. I didn't think that would ever happen, but it did. I used to think that Dr. Fuhrman was some kind of saint from outer space (not really) to say that candy and junk food were disgusting to him . . . but it really does happen over time!