The All or Nothing Mentality…

By Madeleine Ortiz

It’s winter, and you’ve taken a week off of work so you can escape the cold of Ontario for the warm beaches of Florida. You pack up the car and hit the road, making a few stops along the way. By the time you reach South Carolina, you’ve traveled nearly 1,400 miles with only about 500 more to go – and you realize you’ve made a wrong turn. It’s a bit of a bummer, because now you have to turn the car around, drive all the way back to Canada, and start the road trip over again.

Crazy, right?

Yet, Sandra Elia, patient advocate and food addiction counselor, uses this road trip analogy to describe the mentality many people have towards a healthy lifestyle. “If I can’t do it all, I’m not going to do it.”

All or nothing seems shocking when talking about a road trip, so why do so many people apply this mindset to their health? Danielle Aldous, RD, CDE, presumes this rigidness comes from trying to follow diets with too many rules and “off limit,” foods. When a person eats something on the “no” list or veers from one of program’s regulations it can feel a lot more like a major failure than simply a wrong turn. For many, this sense of defeat leads to quitting healthy eating all-together, or starting again “next week.”

In reality, stopping and putting off the diet until a later date is doing more damage than good. It’s better, Aldous says, to “embrace the cheat.” An indulgence from time to time may allow people to stay more on track in the long run. When a person takes charge and plans to enjoy a birthday, vacation, special day or just because, it no longer feels like a failure. It’s part of the plan. It helps them stay in the groove and active in managing their weight. They are back to enjoying something more nutritious the next meal instead of the next month. They can, as Aldous puts it, “Do it, enjoy it, move on.”

Go ahead and find some middle ground when it comes to food choices. The beach, and your health goals are in sight! Learn more about why success shouldn’t be all or nothing in this video:

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