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How to let-go of the ‘perfect diet’

By Joey De Backer IN Discover

We tend to fantasise about some time in the future where everything aligns and we find ourselves eating ‘the perfect diet’ effortlessly. Maybe we do this in other parts of life too. Usually the idea of the perfect diet puts enormous pressure on us. Instead of inspiring us to eat well, it disempowers us.

Have you ever said to yourself ‘I’ll start my diet on Monday’, ‘…’so I better eat all the ‘junk’ food in the house now!’ The pressure of the perfect diet or of the perfect weight or body keeps us trapped in this kind of unhelpful pattern where food is seen as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘fattening’ or ‘slimming’, ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’. We approach food as a means to an end and miss all the good stuff!

“Food is not only our nutrition source, it is our connection to the earth, it connects us with friends and family, our culture, our heritage and is one of the most delightful pleasures to be savoured. It’s hard to appreciate all this when food has become the enemy.”

So next time you catch yourself fantasising about ‘one day when’ or putting anything off, see if you can shift your focus back to the present. Ask yourself ‘what can I do now?’ Bring to mind something you’re satisfied with and be happy with that. Notice any unhelpful thoughts and recognise – they are just thoughts, not facts. You don’t have to buy into them. Direct your attention to more helpful ones. E.g. if you notice the thought ‘I’ve been bad today’ because of something you ate, remind yourself ‘food is morally neutral, it’s not good or bad, and I’m not good or bad because of what I eat’ and bring up a more accurate, helpful thought ‘I feel heavy and sluggish, maybe it’s from what I’ve eaten today’ – just observe your experience, without the judgements and stories on top. Can you see how this is much more empowering?

I promise you there is no such thing as the perfect diet. Our nutritional needs are complex, varied and ever-changing, as is our food, so we must make do with doing our best. And the best we can do is; listen to our body – moment to moment. It will whisper at first – what feels good to eat, when and how much, and if we ignore its signals it may get quiet in some ways (less clear signals), but get louder in others (ill health).

There is so much more to life than food and diet. The effects of diet on health and happiness are great, but they are also blown out of proportion by the weight loss/fitness industry. When we focus so much on diet, we lose sight of the big picture – that good relationships and passion in life is actually more important and has a greater effect on our health!

Put the time and energy spent worrying about food to better use! Try not to compare yourself to others (unfollow any social media pages that make you feel inadequate and follow ‘the moderation movement’ instead), and make being ‘good enough’ the new ‘perfect’.

Joey De Backer

Joey is an accredited practicing dietitian, holistic nutritionist, mindfulness leader and mum to 2.5 year old, Isla Rose. Joey is passionate about helping mums eat well without the need for fancy ingredients and even much nutrition knowledge. She believes that bringing mindful awareness to your body is the most important way to eat and live well!

Her philosophy on food and health is: whole foods, eaten mindfully and joyfully. Her favourite foods are black forest cake, mangoes and artichokes. Joey loves creating simple recipes to inspire use of seasonal and whole produce, while educating people on mindset – the power of our habits and beliefs. Joey has experience with food intolerances, having been through the process of exploring these with her own daughter.

She now supports many mums, babies and children through the elimination diet process to help improve behaviour, sleep, skin issues such as eczema, migraines, learning/attention difficulties and digestive problems. Joey also loves supporting mums to achieve a healthy weight without dieting or deprivation.

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