When it comes to health and weight loss goals, a lot of what holds us back is hidden underneath the surface in the subconscious brain. Perfectionism with food with is one of the most common things I see holding women back from reaching their goals.
Here’s the deal, you probably already know what you should be doing to reach your goals, right?
Drink more water, eat more veggies, exercise more, blah blah blah…
It’s creating that consistent follow-through to actually get you there (and keep you there) that’s the real struggle.
The reason you aren’t already doing the things you know you want to do? That’s all the subconscious stuff.
So today, I’m diving into perfectionism with food so you can determine if it’s been holding you back and what you need to do to finally overcome it for good.
How to overcome perfectionism with food
Perfectionism is sneaky. It’s when you hold yourself to a certain standard that you consider to be “perfect”. Anything you do that falls short of this standard, you consider a screw-up, failure, or totally unacceptable.
You may not realize yet that perfectionism with food is what’s been keeping you stuck…
Often, people who identify as perfectionists, wear the title as a badge of honor. Identifying this way signals to others that they’re a high achiever, a detail-oriented person, and a go-getter.
They often aren’t aware of the damage that perfectionism is doing in their life or all the ways it is holding them back.
However, if you don’t learn how to overcome this mental hurdle now, you could go years or even the rest of your life continuing to struggle to create a healthy relationship with food, dieting, and your body.
No one wants to be 70 and still stressing about what they eat!
So, today I want to give you some tips that will help you overcome perfectionism with food so you can finally craft a balanced, healthy lifestyle that you truly enjoy!
#1 – Create awareness of your patterns
By now you may be thinking, “How do I know if I’m being a perfectionist with food?”.
It’s so important that you do some self reflection and bring awareness to your own tendencies. Awareness is always the first step in changing any behavior.
You may have been struggling with dieting and food for years without identifying perfectionism as the root of your problems.
To determine if you need to overcome perfectionism with food, read through the list below and see if any of these actions sound like you…
- You wait until you can go “all-in” to start eating healthy again after you go off track.
- You think mean thoughts about yourself when you eat something unhealthy.
- You feel scared when you think about situations that would lead you to eat off plan.
- When you eat something unhealthy, you make it means something about YOU as a person.
- If you don’t reach your health or weight loss goals on schedule you feel depressed.
- If you can’t do your “perfect” routine (workout, meal-prep, cooking, etc.) you don’t try at all.
- You find yourself starting over frequently with your diet or health journey.
- If you don’t have a set goal you’re working towards, you think you’re not good enough.
Sound familiar? If so, you’re likely dealing with some perfectionism that is holding you back from creating a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle.
#2 – Identify your subconscious drivers
Because perfectionism is largely subconscious, it’s important to hone in on what exactly is driving you to act in that specific way.
For example, say you’re someone who’s always all-in or all-out with your diet. Your perfectionism manifests itself in your patterns of going to extremes to lose weight then going off the rails and eating all the things over and over.
To end this cycle for good, you first need to identify the thoughts and subsequent feelings you experience just before you start down that path.
For example, it could go something like this…
You think, “My diet’s already ruined anyways” which makes you feel ashamed.
You think, “I’m always gonna struggle with this” which makes you feel hopeless.
You think, “What if I don’t lose the weight in time?” which makes you feel scared.
If you can’t yet identity the exact thoughts that are creating your feelings, that’s ok! At least try to focus on identifying the feeling you experience.
If you’re acting from a place of worry, fear, desperation, self-doubt, and scarcity, that is your first warning sign — proceed with caution!
Your thoughts create your feelings and your feelings drive your actions. So, if you’re thinking thoughts you don’t like, the actions you take from those feelings will continue to create results you don’t like.
This is why it’s important to become aware of your thoughts and feelings. They have been creating the results you have in your life so far.
Once you become aware of those thoughts and feelings, the next step is to notice when they come up and begin to question them.
Ask yourself, “Is this actually true?” or “Even if this is true, is believing it helping me or hurting me?”.
The key is to realize that you don’t have to believe everything you think.
#3 – Decide how you REALLY want to be
In my experience, taking the time to actually imagine the ideal scenario can be super helpful.
Some people might call this visualization but if that sounds a little woo woo, no worries, I get it. All you need to do is take a moment, close your eyes, and imagine what could be…
If you could jump straight out of your current habits, and into new ones, what would that look like?
If you stopped being a perfectionist tomorrow and immediately created consistency and a balanced healthy lifestyle, how would that look?
How would you feel about your body? What would you spend your time thinking about and doing? The more clearly you can see this ideal world in detail, the better!
That ideal life that you envisioned is your target. That’s the goal you’re working towards. If you can imagine it, then you already possess everything that you need to achieve it.
Visualizing your ideal life can be so helpful, but, the most important part is imagining how that better version of yourself would think and feel about their body and their food.
Get crystal clear on that, and this next step becomes much easier…
#4 – Adopt a new mantra
To truly change you perfectionism with food, you need to up level your current thoughts about it.
Tip #2 was all about discovering your current thought about food, your body, and your diet. Tip #3 was all about discovering your ideal thoughts about them. Now is when you start bridging the gap between the two…
You can’t (and shouldn’t) jump straight from your current thoughts to your ideal thoughts. Even if you tried, you’ll likely find it too hard to believe.
For example, if your current habit is to thinking something like, “I’m never gonna be able to get fit and feel confident in my body” which make you feel helpless, that helplessness might be driving you to take actions like skipping your workouts, eating comfort food, and having more negative self talk.
You can see how this is a vicious cycle, right?
So in your ideal world you’d be thinking something way more helpful like, “I love how fit I am and I feel super confident in my body”, which would feel amazing! That feeling would probably drive you to take positive actions and take better care of your body and health.
But if you currently think “I’m never gonna be able to get fit”, it’s probably not going to feel true for you to immediately start thinking “I love how fit I am”.
That’s why it’s helpful to find a bridge thought. The bridge thought is a thought that helps you bridge the gap between your current thought and your ideal thought.
In this example, some bridge thoughts could be…
“I’m not fit and confident right now and that’s totally ok”
“I’m becoming someone who believes I could be fit and feel confident one day”
“It’s possible that I could get fit and feel confident in my body”
“Other people have gotten fit and created self confidence so I probably could too”
“I’m working towards becoming fit and fostering more self-confidence each day”
Just start by adopting a bridge thought that feels true for where you’re at right now. Practice thinking it intentionally any time the old, negative thoughts come up.
Once you’ve practiced that new thought for a while, you’ll eventually realize that it IS true and you fully believe it.
When you get there, then it’s time to up level your thoughts again! You just keep repeating the process until you eventually believe your ideal thought.
When you fully believe that thought that feels so great, you’ll be taking action from such a positive place.
You can’t help but to create more positive results in your life and health when you truly feel so good!
#5 – Get a health coach
The fastest way to create this mindset shift is to find someone else to help you see your thoughts, feelings and actions more clearly. It’s so much easier to identify patterns like this from the outside looking in.
As a health coach, I help my clients identify their limiting thoughts, beliefs and patterns. Then, I help them move quickly through the process of bridging the gap between where they are and where they want to be.
If therapist help people go from dysfunctional to functional, coaches help people go from functional to exceptional.
In my health coaching practice, I help women move through that transformation way quicker than they could ever manage on their own.
If this sounds like something you need, I encourage you to read more about my coaching program!
Or, if you think health coaching might be helpful for you, schedule your free consultation call with me here. We’ll talk about where you’re at, where you want to be, and decide if I’m the best person to help you get there.
Whether we decide to work together or not, it’s always a valuable (and fun!) conversation that will bring you more clarity for what to focus on next in your health journey.
One Last Thing!
If you’ve been struggling for a while with the overwhelming need to be “perfect” with your diet, please know that you don’t have to deal with that forever.
You can change your thoughts and create a relaxed, balanced relationship with food that allows you to reach your health goals.
When you let go of the all-or-nothing mindset and overcome perfectionism with food, you’ll find it’s so much easier to be consistent and make steady progress towards your goals.
July 28, 2021