How to Stick to Your Diet without Letting Perfectionism Sabotage You

Many people decide one day that they will change their diet and start eating totally healthy. Full of gusto, they go grocery shopping and perhaps begin keeping a food diary. Most people make it a day or two without a problem, but by the next day they end up eating something “off plan.” For people with perfectionist tendencies, this is enough to cause them to abandon their diet because they have “messed up.” Obviously this doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I guarantee you, if you haven’t fallen prey to this line of thought, someone you know has.

The ideal solution would be to tell people to stop measuring whether or not they are perfect, and just take going off the diet at times in stride. While this is a nice potential solution, for hardcore perfectionists it is not very realistic! I have a tip for a way around allowing perfectionism to sabotage your weight loss efforts:

What I recommend is to score your diet at the end of the day. If you have a serving of a food that is off plan, you could count that as one point off 10—10 being a “perfect” diet day. What you will be trying to do is keep your score as close to 10 as possible—but if you subscribe to my 80/20 rule with diet—that is, 80% of your diet should be foods that help you toward your goals, and 20% of your diet can be composed of other foods in sensible portions—you will realize that a score of 8 or up is a great score!

This points system is helpful because it will prevent you from ruining the whole day just because you ate a cookie after lunch, for example. The cookie would count as one point off (unless it is one of those huge cookies the size of your head, which would be 2 points!) but you would still be on track for a “9” for the day if you didn’t stray from your plan the rest of the day. This is much different than if you finished off the whole bag of cookies just because you had one!

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