We try to encourage people not to be perfectionistic. None of us can eat ‘perfectly’ 100% of the time. However, perfectionism remains a trap for many of us. Once a person has perceived they have eaten poorly, they simply continue eating poorly and essentially give up. Once again we are empowering food, not ourselves. You and you alone have control over what foods you eat. It takes work. It takes practice. You will make mistakes, but this is good. Making mistakes, then learning to get back on track without beating yourself up, leads to long term success!
Remember this: imperatives are words that imply urgency and no room for error. Examples of imperative words are “always,” “must,” and “never.” If you are like most people, your vocabulary may be peppered with imperatives. Using these words can pave the path to trouble. For example:
• “I will NEVER eat more than 1200 calories.”
• “I must NEVER eat cookie dough ice cream again.”
• “I will eat a salad for lunch EVERY day.”
• “I will ALWAYS say no when I’m offered coffee cake.”
• “I MUST ALWAYS control my cravings for sweets.”
• “Chocolate is my downfall, so I will ALWAYS avoid it.”
• “I will ALWAYS exercise every day.”
• “I MUST have PERFECT control of my eating.”
• “I will ALWAYS control the moods that make me eat.”

These thoughts can float around in your mind waiting to take pot shots at your control. If you exceed your calorie level some day, you can recover from the extra calories if your control stays intact. However, the imperatives can get a clean shot at you if your mind cranks out thoughts like “I should NEVER eat more than I’m told.” When this happens, you can set yourself up for disaster. Disappointment occurs, and one can lose sight of positive accomplishments because of a few mistakes.

Try to find imperatives in your vocabulary. What do you expect of yourself, and how can you banish words like NEVER and ALWAYS from your internal conversations? Replace the imperatives with language that allows some room for error and flexibility. There is no such thing as a perfect person!

Our thoughts determine our actions. We must be gentle with ourselves, especially around food. If we do our best, or if we slip but get back on track, THAT IS A HUGE SUCCESS!

Keep working on yourself. You can achieve anything you want. Don’t let negative thoughts dictate your actions. You can, you will, and you deserve it. Keep on trying. Don’t ever give up!

Dr. Doug