The Problem with the All or Nothing Diet

all or nothing diet

Think about the last time you achieved something momentous in your life such as, passing an exam, receiving a promotion at work, or hitting a particular goal. How long did it take to get there? Was it instant or did you have to study/work/learn/adapt?

As children we instinctively understand that to achieve something we have to learn new skills – nothing happens instantaneously. Passing an exam can take years of study. Playing a sport well can take hours of practice. Even learning to walk requires us to hone certain skills and a lot of trial and error. Yet, as adults we start to expect things to happen quickly and to be able to achieve things with little effort.

The All or Nothing Diet Problem

Dieting is a case in point. We’ve been conditioned by the dieting industry and our own desires for quick results to believe if we find the “definitive” diet and follow it precisely, we will lose weight quickly and effortlessly and all our problems will be resolved.

The reason many diets fail is because we treat it as an “all or nothing” experience. This year, on January 1st, thousands of us will have resolved to lose weight. We start following our diet of choice. By the end of the month, the majority of us will have already given up for one reason or another. Many of us will be looking for the next diet to follow because this one didn’t work well for us.

Firstly, I want you to avoid thinking about your PCOS diet as being a “diet” in the sense we have come to know it. Instead think of it as a lifestyle change – or a series of lifestyle changes.

Throw out any ideas of this diet being “all or nothing”!

Changing your eating habits for the long term requires a mental shift just as much as a shift in behavior. If you believe that this diet is all or nothing and your willpower alone will keep you following it exactly then you will soon be disappointed.

Building willpower takes time. Most of us have weak self-control. That’s why we find ourselves needing to change our diet and exercise regime. But, in the same way as you need to build your lifestyle changes gradually, you also need to strengthen your willpower steadily.

Something is going to happen that will weaken your resolve or make you lapse in your new regime. I can guarantee it.

Failure is Not a Bad Thing

I’ve just come down with a cold bug. The last thing I feel like doing is worrying about what I’m eating. So, I’m not worrying about it (thankfully, all I feel like eating is soup, so not too bad). Many of you will have chocolate and other treats left from the holidays and may have already succumbed to temptation. Or maybe a friend invited you to dinner and you gave in to the pressure to eat that sticky, sweet dessert. If you’re doing an all or nothing diet you’re going to feel like a failure as soon as you slip up. The first failure may not stop you but each little slip will eventually lead to you giving up…after all, it’s just “too hard” to stick to the diet so precisely.

Learn to realize that failure is not a bad thing. Mistakes help you learn lessons so that you can change your responses the next time temptation comes along. A long term change in habits requires mistakes to be made.

So, don’t beat yourself up over making slips, and instead adjust your thinking that these mistakes are a bad thing. Each slip is just an indication that an adjustment needs to be made to your journey.

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