I feel like a common struggle among those who embark on a new healthy eating journey is dealing with a perfectionist or “all or nothing” mentality. You’re either eating healthy or you’re not, with no middle ground.
I admit, I fell into this category for years. If I slipped-up during the day and had a cookie or a bagel at the office, I felt like I had blown my whole day– so I might as well keep going and keep eating junk food for the rest of the night! (Or even for the rest of the week, in some cases.)
Crazy logic, but I know I’m not the only one who’s felt that way.
The truth is, a cookie, or a piece of cake, or a bagel isn’t going to ruin anything when enjoyed in the context of an overall healthy diet. It’s what you do the majority of the time that counts, so if you’re filling your day with lots of nourishing whole foods, some occasional less-than-perfect foods just aren’t that big of a deal… unless you make them a big deal by beating yourself up about it.
I mention this because yesterday I had to buy a big, chocolate birthday cake for a photo shoot for work. My old “diet-mentality” self would have stressed over working with that chocolate cake, and one of two things would have happened: I’d either skip tasting the cake and think about it for the rest of the day, only to binge eat something else later, or I’d eat a slice of cake, and maybe even several slices, and continue to pig out for the rest of the night because I had already blown my diet for the day. As you can see, nothing good happens when you’re in a diet mentality. No matter how long you last on a diet, if you restrict foods that you love, you’re bound to wind up feeling deprived and in a binge at some point.
So, I hope the take-away message from this post that is that it’s okay to indulge in less-than-perfect foods every now and then. In fact, I think it’s a pretty healthy and happy way to enjoy life– and that’s the point, isn’t it? Food is meant to be enjoyed; it shouldn’t be an additional source of stress.
Here’s a peek at how I like to handle things now:
Breakfast: I think I’ve had a chocolate shake for breakfast almost every day this week. Usually I try to switch up my smoothies to give my body a variety of nutrients, but lately, I’ve been going with what I’m craving– chocolate! This smoothie included chia seeds, hemp hearts, cocoa, dates, collagen, vanilla, and lots of fresh spinach.
Lunch: I’ve been enjoying lots of Caesar salads for the past few days, thanks to a big batch of vegan dressing I made this past weekend. (Recipe is in my cookbook.) I topped this one with leftover organic chicken from the previous night’s dinner.
Snack: I don’t drink coffee very often, but I was craving it yesterday when I knew I’d be working with chocolate. Chocolate + coffee are just a match made in heaven to me. So, when I picked up the chocolate cake for my photo shoot, I also picked up a coffee from Starbucks. (I order 4 shots of decaf espresso, and add my own organic heavy whipping cream when I get home. It tastes like a latte, with only about a tablespoon of cream added.) After the photo shoot, I dug into the chocolate cake, because it looked so good!
But, it wasn’t that good.
I did eat some of the chocolate frosting, because that’s my favorite part, but then I realized I’d actually rather have one of my homemade cookies, instead. So, I pulled one of my almond flour cookies from the freezer and enjoyed it with the rest of my coffee. Sweet tooth satisfied, and I felt zero guilt about having enjoyed the chocolate frosting, too.
Dinner: This was one of the best dinners I’ve had in a while. Not only was it delicious, but it also left me feeling so good! We started off by splitting the No-Fail Kale Salad from my cookbook, followed by a huge bowl of cauliflower that I roasted after tossing it with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar and garlic-infused olive oil. I think we consumed over two pounds of veggies in a single meal!
Dessert: I finished my evening with several pieces of mint dark chocolate and a warm mug of herbal tea.
Reader Feedback: How do you handle less-than-perfect food choices?