All-or-nothing thinking is truly perfectionism in disguise.
It’s the belief that you’ve either succeeded or you’ve failed, there is no middle ground, no compromise. It usually leads to thoughts like, “I’ve fallen off the wagon, now I might as well finish the whole cake because I’m going to have to start over again tomorrow.”
All-or-nothing thinking never allows you to feel good about what you are doing because no one can be perfect all the time. When it comes to your relationship with food, you’re bound to have good moments and not-so-good moments, but whatever happened a moment or an hour ago does not erase your ability to do something positive in the present.
Instead of focusing on getting it perfect, think about doing your best—with what you have available right now.
When it comes to food, we can end up self-sabotaging when we live with the diet mentality. That is when we have an all-or-nothing approach and believe that the only way to lose weight is to restrict food and stay away from “bad” foods. And when we view certain foods as “bad” we give them power.
So, when we deprive ourselves of all “bad” foods, we start to crave them and eventually give in to those cravings and then end up feeling like a failure. It's this sense of failure that makes you feel like if you’ve had a slice of cake, you may as well eat the whole thing!
Is it possible that if your body is craving food that is nutritionally void, that what you are really craving is the feeling that the food gives you or a distraction from the feeling that is present?
Here are 3 ways you can challenge the all-or-nothing mindset:
Give yourself permission to enjoy food. Allowing yourself to enjoy food removes the FOMO of not eating the foods that you love. When we tell ourselves we "can't" have certain foods, our minds obsess over them. Try practicing "I could eat ____ BUT I'm choosing this instead."
Language matters. Consider reframing your language around food by removing "good" or "bad" foods or "cheat" meals. If food is neither good nor bad what are you cheating on..? You're an adult you make choices all day every day. You GET to choose your language and the food that you consume
Challenge your inner perfectionist. Who said you needed to be perfect anyway. To be human is to be imperfect. Does beating yourself up for being less than perfect help? I'm guessing not... With that in mind, I encourage you to challenge the negative self-talk when it arises and consider reevaluating the changes you are trying to make right now. is it possible that you're trying to change too much too soon. Sometimes (most times), committing to small meaningful changes can result in larger rewards. So where can you take a step back and commit to one small thing right now? Maybe that's simply consuming an extra glass of water per day or adding a serving of vegetables to lunch or going for a walk around the block on your lunch break. The key is simple and realistic!