The Myth of “Perfect” Eating

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We’ve all said it before:

“Tomorrow I’m going to eat perfectly.”

We say it after a dinner out with friends when we indulge in too many desserts, after any calorie-laden, feast filled holiday, and after we devour a gallon of ice cream following an awful day at work.

It seems completely realistic and feasible when we proclaim our plans of perfect eating. We map out exactly what we are going to eat and promise not to deviate from our predetermined food plan. Perhaps we have a day (or even two) of success, where we adhere to “perfect eating”.

Perfection

But then our well-intentioned plans go awry. Something comes up that we hadn’t foreseen-a friend invites us to a happy hour, a coworker leaves homemade cookies in the break room, or our significant other brings home pizza for dinner when a salad was planned. Inevitably, something derails our plans of perfection.

We end up eating even more than we intended because we were trying SO hard not to eat anything “bad”.  Wondering where we went amiss with our grand plans of perfect eating, we lament over feeling like a failure.  Yet the feelings of disappointment and failure only cause us to try to get back on the perfect eating train “starting tomorrow”. We don’t realize how this cycle escalates each time we try and fail, once more, to eat perfectly.

How to break the “perfection” cycle:

  • Let go of perfection. Often times, we try so hard to achieve an ideal in our eating that is next to impossible. There really is no “perfect” eating. It isn’t possible to eat EXACTLY what we have outlined for the day. Life happens. Things come up. We have a piece of cake at a party. We can’t say no to the second helping of mashed potatoes. We go out for a cheesesteak instead of eating the lunch we packed.  We can have the loftiest goals for how to eat, but there will always be things that derail even the most well-intentioned plans. Letting go of this unattainable goal is a huge relief-we don’t have to try to eat perfectly, because it’s impossible anyway!
  • Pretty good is the new perfect.  Incorporate this motto into your life. There is no perfect. There is just “pretty good” – and allow that to be good enough. You ate some chips at lunch but had a salad and an otherwise healthy sandwich? That’s pretty good. Dinner was followed by a cookie? Well, that’s not too bad. You had one diet coke when you swore you wouldn’t drink soda again? Good enough.  Once we relax our idea of perfection, eating pretty good eases our stress and is much more realistic.  Plus, who wants to eat “perfectly” anyway? Perfect leaves little room for error and fun.  If you indulge in happy hour faire or an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, while eating healthy most of the time, well, that’s pretty good, which is the new perfect!
  • Remember the myth. No one is meant to be perfect in any area of life-whether it’s eating, relationships, personal growth, healthy habits, your career, etc. In a “perfect” world, everything is stagnant. There is no growth and no evolution. It is only through mistakes, trial and error, and experimentation that we learn and grow.  It is a refreshing way to view life. Remembering that perfection is a myth, and allowing ourselves to make mistakes-whether it’s messing up our food plan, getting into a fight with a family member, or losing your cool to a friend-this is how we incorporate feedback and discover how we can grow as a person.

Using these helpful tools will bring a new perspective into your life. You’ll begin to see the truth in the perfection myth and how releasing the tendency towards perfection can bring much needed freedom.

So, tell me-

Can you catch yourself this week going back into the “perfect eating” mindset?

How can you adopt the “pretty good” motto instead?

Leave a comment below!

Jenn Hand HeadshotAbout the Author:

Jenn is a speaker, writer, author, world traveler, adventure connoisseur, holistic health advocate, and founder of http://www.jennhand.com, a full-service boutique that offers programs, coaching, yoga, and workshops that enable women to transform their relationship with food, weight, body, and eating.

10 Comments

  1. YES YES
    there is ONLY perfect of US.
    our unique bod.

  2. So true, I follow the 80/20 rule and my life has been so much easier. I have actually found the foods I now consider comfort foods have become healthy themselves 🙂

  3. Love this! I find that you enjoy eating healthy so much more when you’re not stuck on being perfect!

  4. I love pretty good is the new perfect! That’s a great motto…especially when it comes to food. C

  5. I like this post a lot. To me, there’s no such thing as “perfect eating.” To strive to eat “perfectly” is to develop an unhealthy relationship with food, and the cycle of guilt that develops from it will cause more harm to your health in the end.

  6. Such a great post! I can totally relate to planning meals out & then something happens to throw me off course… I hate when that happens, but really there is no perfect way of eating – only what works best for us at that time.

  7. This was such a great reminder- thank you! Sometimes when I slip up with a dessert or something I’m like UGH I ate perfectly today until now! But recently I’ve been okay with treating myself when I want something…why deprive yourself? Like you said, pretty good what we should aim for as opposed to perfect!

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