“Do you know what your fatal flaw is?” my husband asked, ready to tell me exactly what mine was. I immediately armed myself with comebacks for whatever his answer was going to be, but then he said “you’re a perfectionist,” and I couldn’t have agreed more. “Being a perfectionist” sounds like one of those fake answers you give in an interview when they ask “what is your biggest weakness?” But for me, this really can be a weakness if I allow it (“fatal flaw” may be a bit harsh!). I can mull over a decision, paper, or project for weeks trying to complete every possible aspect of research before feeling (mostly) convinced that I’m prepared to take action. While this approach can be useful in providing high quality work, there are areas where being a perfectionist is not conducive to positive (or quick!) results.
Eating, or more specifically eating healthfully, is definitely one of those areas. As a Registered Dietitian, I certainly emphasize fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean meats, but I also ate a slice of pizza AND apple pie yesterday. And I’m completely ok with that. There was a time in my life where I thought I had to have an all or nothing approach…which quite honestly led to crap nutrition. One unhealthy choice led to several, even if I had started the day with lots of healthy foods. Perfectionism in healthy eating is unrealistic and quite frankly, unnecessary. For my fellow Type A’s struggling with this, you too can break the cycle! For me, it required forever removing the diet mentality and concentrating on a lifestyle shift. Allow yourself the freedom to eat imperfectly, so that one unhealthy meal is just that rather than the beginning of an unhealthy downward spiral. Focus more on what to include in your snacks and meals than what is forbidden. Read nutrition labels and be knowledgeable about portion sizes, but stay away from strict calorie goals. Eat for health and eat for pleasure, and learn to make healthy food actually taste good.
My nutrition philosophy is based in inclusive eating. I’m fortunate to not have any food allergies or intolerances, so I’m not cutting out food groups or specific ingredients or nutrients. I eat a variety of foods, mostly healthy, some not. I view food as a source of nutrition and as a source of pleasure, and recognize that there is a place for food to serve as both. I hope you’ll follow along my blog as I post on recent nutrition research (and its applicability to you!) and trials of healthy recipe makeovers (there will certainly be some failures…and the perfectionist in me will just have to be ok with that!).