The all-or-nothing mentality with food is real f*ck up. It messes up your brain, it messes up your thought process, and it messes up other areas of your life. It for suuuuuure messes up your body.
This mentality, along with many other cognitive distortions completely halt healing your relationship with food. Not only will you continue to have a terrible relationship with food, you won’t be able to achieve any goals you have for yourself. Even worse, it keeps you in that diet cycle that you just cannot seem to break.
First, lets talk exactly what it is, how it affects you, and how the hell to get out of it.
What is the all-or-nothing mentality?
There are a few different names for it: all-or-nothing, black-or-white, on-or-off… you get the picture. The commonality is it is the complete extremes when it comes to eating.
When you have this mentality, you:
- Are eating perfect, squeaky clean (or insert other diet), and binge when you eat one ‘bad’ thing.
- You workout every single day, sometimes twice a day, or you don’t workout for weeks.
- You are either on your diet and following it to a tee, or off your diet, eating uncontrollably.
- Have a strict line between foods that are ‘good’ and ‘bad’
- When you have one ‘bad’ thing, you have feelings of guilt and shame, and go from eating perfectly into a very downward spiral.
Having the all-or-nothing mentality perpetuates having a terrible relationship with food.
If you have this black or white thinking without any gray, it is physically impossible to achieve your goals. Wether that is weight loss, gain muscle mass, stop being obsessed with food – whatever it is, you aren’t getting there with this mindset.
Think about it, how will you have a good relationship with food if you are either ‘on’ or ‘off’ your diet? Will you just never eat the foods you love again? That is never happening. And, my friend, if you think that’s how to go about this thing called life, then you aren’t in the right place.
You won’t ever lose weight, because you are always yo-yo dieting. You’ll lose weight when you’re eating perfect, and gain it all back (plus more, eeeeek) when you go off the rails again.
If you have this type of mentality, please know it’s completely okay. You can get out of it, just like I did (and you can read more of my story here).
Here are steps you can take to get out of the all-or-nothing diet mentality:
Let’s start from the beginning.
First, you need to take the words ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ out of your vocabulary when it comes to food. Yes, I talk about that a lot, and I’ll be talking about it for years. Placing a negative connotation on food does nothing but start the guilt cycle; and sometimes you aren’t even aware of it. Your binge and overeating can happen days later from that one instance.
Then, you need to really put some stuff into action. You literally need to eat the food. In small portions throughout the day, eat the foods that were on your ‘bad’ list. Why? Because this will show you that the world still turns, your progress won’t go down the toilet, and that it’s really not that big of a deal.
Now, let’s talk labeling. We joke and say things like, ‘oh, I can’t just have one cookie’ or ‘if I have one I’ll eat the whole box!’ Stop that. While it may seem really insignificant, you want to practice labeling yourself as someone who CAN just have one cookie, so your body and mindset starts to follow your speak.
If you feel yourself getting upset or anxious if you overeat or eat something ‘unhealthy,’ stop. Stop, take a deep breath, and constantly remind yourself however many times you need to that you are okay. You are okay, you are safe, you are alive, and you don’t need to throw yourself down the entire flight of stairs because you tripped on one.
When it comes to exercise, get some movement even if you ate ‘bad’ or had a binge. Reason being, you need to realize that one doesn’t have to do with the other, and that you can move your body and not hide in a closet eating everything in secret when something goes wrong (yes, speaking from experience).
When you follow each of these tips, you can start to get out of the all-or-nothing mentality. And believe me, the other side is a beautiful thing.