The ‘All-or-Nothing’ Trap
A common topic of conversation this week that I had with patients has been the battle of the all-or-nothing thinking. This is something that can happen in all areas of life, especially in the areas of food and health. All or nothing thinking can lead us down a rabbit hole of extremes, leaving little room for a ‘gray area’ or ‘in between.’ I am here to tell you that there is beauty in the ‘in-between.’ Growth happens in the gray area and therefore we should not judge ourselves or feel shame when we find ourselves in that zone but use it as a learning period of how to approach a similar situation, should we meet it again, (which we likely will).
How many times have you started on the healthy eating track, only to have a “cheat,” and feel like you have failed and then give up completely? These feelings of failure can lead you to then throw in the towel on your healthy habits all together. We can go from following our healthy habits 100% of the time, to 0% of the time almost overnight. This is caused by ‘all-or-nothing thinking.’
It seems like such a “duh” reminder, but sometimes we need the reassurance of the “duh” statements more than we realize. I am here to tell you that your nutrition doesn’t have to be perfect for you to be successful. Sure, we want to establish healthy habits and move away from behaviors that don’t lead us to our goals. But friend, please realize that behavior change is hard. It is hard for us all. So, we must start practicing implementing small habits repeatedly until they become more comfortable. Don’t give up. Use every situation as an opportunity for growth the next time. It is what you do most of the time that matters, not what you do some of the time. Strive to make healthy habits most of the time, and let the rest go.
Practicing self-compassion is a huge puzzle piece when it comes to our health. If you continue to beat yourself up for not doing it perfectly, you will never arrive at your goal. But it is possible to arrive at your goal, with some ‘snaccidents’ along the way. Acknowledging and owning your behaviors, and then being intentional to make a course correction, will keep you close to the track that you want to be on. The other option is letting your cheat, derail you completely, for which you will likely have to start over from the beginning down the road. Instead, take a deep breath, forgive yourself, move on….and keep going.
Certified Nutritionist, Master of Science