Diana Kelly Levey

The Problems with Being a Diet Perfectionist

June 20, 2015 | Categories:

When you’re given a task, do you either do it the right way or not at all? Do you strive for perfection in life, whether it’s keeping an immaculate home or arriving everywhere early? And do you bring the same exacting standards to your diet plan?

Being a perfectionist dieter is “the all-or-nothing mentality,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and the author of The Flexitarian Diet. “Real life is just not conducive to this perfect-eating attitude.” Take this quiz to see if you are a diet perfectionist and how to remedy this “all or nothing” thinking.

Follow these weight loss solutions and you’ll escape the perfectionist trap once and for all:

Don’t start on a Monday
According to a study conducted by Brian Wansink, PhD, the author of Mindless Eating, 46% of people said their last attempt to start a weight loss program began on a Monday morning. This study found that by Tuesday night, 31% of those dieters had already given up on their plan. Beginning a diet on a Monday makes you feel like the weekend is your “last meal,” says Alyse Levine, MS, RD. You’re telling yourself, I can eat whatever I want because it’s the last time I’m going to eat those foods. On Monday, I’ll be strict again. But if your new eating plan isn’t satisfying, hunger and willpower might do you in quickly, causing you to cave by, say, Tuesday afternoon, when a coworker offers you sweets from her candy dish.

Instead of waiting until a certain day to begin your diet, start making healthier choices at your very next meal—even if it’s just a small change, like ordering your lunchtime sandwich with mustard instead of mayo. When perfectionist dieters are even slightly derailed, they are likely to want to give up for the day and “start again tomorrow” or “start over on Monday.” But “the next meal or eating opportunity is a time to refresh, to begin eating wholesome foods again,” says Blatner.


Don’t suffer through

Do you associate a growling stomach, irritability, and daily deprivation with weight loss? “A red flag that a diet won’t work is if it feels difficult to maintain,” says Blatner. “Ideally, the way you’re eating to lose weight should be how you eat for the rest of your life.” Blatner suggests you rate how difficult your eating plan feels on a scale of 1 to 10. She says you should feel like you’re at a 7, which takes effort, consciousness, and planning, but not a 9 or 10, which you know you can’t keep up forever.

Don’t dump favorite foods
The best way to keep cravings under control is to give yourself permission to have them on occasion, without guilt, as part of your weight loss program. “We make hundreds of decisions about eating each day, and we can’t make them all perfectly,” says Blatner. “You have to give yourself wiggle room.” To minimize the risk of overeating, she suggests enjoying indulgent foods in social situations rather than when alone. If you’re craving pizza and know it’ll be difficult to stop at one slice when faced with an entire pie at home, invite friends over for a pizza party. Indulgences can be part of your regular eating program if done in moderation, says Blatner. She tells clients that eating just one pizza slice balanced out with a big salad is better than avoiding pizza altogether. “If you love a certain food, having controlled portions won’t derail you; rather, it helps you stick closer to your plan on other days,” she says.


Read the full article on Prevention.com.

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