We’ve all been there, “well I already had a donut for breakfast, the rest of the day is shot. I’ll eat whatever crap I want for the rest of the day” or “I don’t have time to do my full workout today so I mine as well not even do anything” or “If I’m going to eat healthy I can’t have ANY sugar or ANY fatty foods for the entire month” or “I’ve already had one cookie, mine as well finish the whole bag!” Sound familiar??
Today I want to talk about a common state of mind that I see with clients, and have experienced myself. I’ve been reading about it in my book “the rules of Normal eating” as well. This is the trap of the “All or Nothing" mentality. The thought that there’s no middle ground with health. You’re either extremely healthy, chewing on organic kale, or extreme on the side of sweets and treats and couch sitting.
In the book I’m reading ‘The rules of “normal” Eating’ (you can follow along with my book club here) she talks about how changing our beliefs towards food will change our behavior with food. When changing our beliefs we want to take a look at which of our beliefs are irrational vs. rational, and get rid of those irrational beliefs. For example, the belief that eating 1 cookie is just as bad as eating the whole bag so you mine as well eat the whole bag, is totally irrational! A more rational thought would be, ok I allowed myself 1 cookie, I’ll feel much better if I stop there rather than eating the whole bag.
The problem with the “All or Nothing” mindset is that it becomes hard to maintain these extremes long term and we end up riding this up and down roller coaster. We’re either feeling pressure to be “perfectly healthy”, or feeling bad about ourselves for falling off the wagon. But the truth is we can be healthy in the middle! It's called MODERATION, and not viewing food as the enemy!
I think a big part of this for most people is over complicating it. We have so many voices around us saying “you have to count calories and macros” or “weighing your food is the way to go” and the chatter goes on and on. We think we have to do all this extra stuff if we want to be healthy and it becomes overwhelming and time consuming! What if I told you there’s a simpler way? I never teach calorie counting or macro counting to clients because I want to give you tools you will use for long term success. Who wants to be crunching numbers every time they eat for the rest of their lives? We’ll learn more about how to simplify below.
Alright, now that we’re more aware of what the “All or Nothing” mindset is, how can we avoid it?? Here are my 3 S’s for avoiding this mindset that I’ve had success with in my life and want to share with you.
- Simplify. Forget the measuring and counting, and use your built in portion control kit, your hands! This is an easy way to control your portions that I’ve adopted from Precision Nutrition. They’ve made this awesome infographic that I’ve attached to share with you.
- Have a “Sanity Keeper”. What is this you might ask? Well its a food that you love, and can’t see yourself every living without, that you allow yourself. It’s just enough to take the edge off when you get that naughty food craving. You know that you are never going to give this up. At times when you need to cut back on sugar, or lower your carb intake, you may need to avoid certain foods, but this Sanity Keeper food you’ve chosen can always be in your life. The key is to allow it in moderation. This will help you avoid feeling deprived which usually results in a binge. For me its chocolate. I know I can have a little square of dark chocolate if I’m craving dessert and it will take care of that craving for me. I feel satisfied without feeling guilty, it’s a win win!
- Just Start. the final S is for Start. You may feel overwhelmed thinking that you have to be this extreme healthy person and go on some crazy diet, so you never start. This will never get you to where you want to be. Just start with baby steps. You don’t have to change your life in 1 week. Start with going to the gym once that week. Then add in 2 days a week. Then maybe you start drinking more water and less soda, and then slowly these healthy habits will get easier and become natural to you!
Well there you have it, my quick and dirty guide on how to avoid the trap of the “All or Nothing” mindset. Remember the 3 S’s: Simplify, Sanity Keeper, and just Start. Leave your comments below on how these strategies have worked in your own life or what other brilliant ideas you’ve come up with on your own! I’d love to hear :)
And as always, your questions are welcome here anytime!
Feel free to share this post along to your friends and family who may be interested in the information. Thanks you guys rock