Perfectionism is the Root of Diet Culture

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Through social media, influencers or magazines at the checkout of the grocery stores, I’m sure you’re familiar with many of the diets that are popular at the moment. Be it no-sugar, keto, whole 30, veganism, Dash diet, or the many other diets that are out there, there is often a commonality. Perfectionism. To “complete” the diet and see the results you must have perfect adherence to whichever diet you choose to follow. These drastic measures will often work in the short-term but are often too hard to stick with for long enough to see the benefits you are looking for. Or the diet becomes an obsession which can impact your mental health as you are always thinking about what and when you are going to eat next. Highly restrictive diets can also impact your social life. Anxiety around events, dinners with friends or even birthday parties, can cause apprehension about whether or not they will have foods that you’re “allowed” on your diet. This can cause behavioural changes like binging before going, food avoidance, or not participating in events. 

Perfect adherence, especially long term, is challenging if not impossible. We see the development of the yo-yo dieting cycle. This is where you have “perfect” adherence to the diet, and when something happens that causes you to “fail” the diet, which then causes the dieter to give up entirely on the diet and return to their pre-diet eating patterns. Often little is learned through these diets, which means that after a while eating the way you did before the diet you start looking for a new diet to ”fix” you.  Then the cycle starts again with short-term “perfect” adherence to a new diet. 

So what is the remedy to avoid the dreaded yo-yo dieting cycle? It’s a focus on lifestyle changes and learning about what foods and eating patterns feel good to you. Although this is a slower approach, it is focused on long-term success and not short-term perfection. Consistent small changes while you learn and develop a healthy lifestyle that focuses less on following food rules and more on habits that fuel your body is the goal. This gives you space to make mistakes, learn from them, be mindful of the impact different foods have on your body, and whether or not it’s a food that you want to be a regular part of your diet.  

Are you stuck in the yo-yo dieting cycle? Are you looking for support while developing a lifestyle that will lead to long-term success?  Check out my other blogs for more tips and mindset shifts, or reach out to me through the “contact me” tab in the menu for personalized support. 

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