No Perfect Diet

Celebrating International No Diet Day with some thoughts on the pressure of perfection.

Celebrating International No Diet Day with some thoughts on the pressure of perfection.

May 6 marks “International No Diet Day” which I have to say is a new day to me but I am so excited about it!  It's all about celebrating our bodies as they are, not as we wish they would be.  And I thought this would be the perfect time to post about a topic that’s been on my mind for a while, which is the topic of letting the pressure of perfection get in the way of success when it comes to reaching, or sometimes even starting, our health goals. 


I spend a lot of my time working with people from all walks of life trying to help them reach their health goals, whether it’s weight loss or maintenance, lowering blood sugar, working with digestive issues, or other food-related issues.   But recently one client came to me admitting that she had been putting off having a nutrition consult for a really long time because she “had so many changes to make” and didn’t think she was ready for a "complete diet overhaul" yet. 


And while I really appreciated the honesty here, I was also troubled because this reminded me that one of the biggest struggles I see on a daily basis is people thinking that they if they aren't all-in when it comes to a healthy lifestyle, they aren’t doing enough to succeed.


That’s the problem with going on diets.  The word “diet” implies restriction or rules when it comes to what we eat.  And whenever we set too many rules and restrictions, it's easy to become our own worst enemy and put this crazy pressure on ourselves to follow every rule to a “T.” 


But change doesn’t happen overnight, and let me share a little secret with you:  Nobody’s perfect.  :)  So why do we think that if we're anything less than perfect with the way we eat, it doesn't count as being healthy?  I know that taking it slow is not the most fun or trendy approach to losing weight, but that’s the approach that seems to work the best for people.  Making small changes that are easy and realistic for you in the place you're at right now is the way to go because there’s a much better chance you’ll be able to keep that up long term. 


We become very “all or nothing” creatures when on a diet and after working with clients for years now, mostly on weight loss, I’ve seen the result of this twisted perspective on right and wrong that comes with dieting time and time again.  A client comes to me and says “ I’ve been trying, but I’ve also been doing really bad.”  When we get further into the conversation, I’ll usually find out that the person has actually been making amazing changes in their daily lifestyle and eating habits, but if they have a few slip ups, they think all of the good stuff doesn’t count anymore.  And that’s so not true! 


We find ourselves striving for absolute perfection in what we eat and how we look, and that can hold us back from our full potential.  Having a healthy, balanced life is about SO much more than how perfect our diet is or what that number on the scale says.  


If you really want to become healthier, lose weight, and reach whatever health goals you have, yes, there are a few things to work on – eat better, move more, sleep well, don’t stress out too much.  But don’t knock yourself down because you aren’t as “perfect” as someone else or even as perfect as you think you should be.  Embrace eating well and feeling great, celebrate every healthy milestone, and enjoy life! Happy No Diet Day!

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Comments: 3
  • #1

    Steph @ The Grateful Grazer (Friday, 06 May 2016 10:17)

    Love this post, Amber! Just wrote about my own personal food guilt after eating dairy on my blog today. (I see improved skin/digestion without it.) I realized that I was feeling guilt, and even shame, when I did eat the occasional piece of cheese because I felt that I had to be the "perfect dietitian." Your post just rang so true to me, no one meal is going to make or break health and its how we nourish ourselves MOST of the time that really matters! :)

  • #2

    Amber @ Homemade Nutrition (Friday, 06 May 2016 14:11)

    Thanks so much Stephanie! I just read your article and LOVE it! It is so true that so many of us struggle with "diet" behaviors sneaking into our routines, and even as dietitians we have trouble with this! Thank you for the comment! :)

  • #3

    Jessica @ Nutritioulicious (Friday, 06 May 2016 15:35)

    Great post Amber. This is so true: "why do we think that if we're anything less than perfect with the way we eat, it doesn't count as being healthy? " - I hate the dichotomy of good vs bad when it comes to food. All or nothing will never lead to success. My husband says with regards to perfection that we "push out the good in pursuit of perfection." Sometimes good is perfect enough!