All or Nothing Mentality

All or Nothing Mentality

Today I thought I would discuss the pretty common and oh so All-American mentality of All or Nothing. This can apply to our work ethic, our hobbies, our relationships, our food, and so much more.

Today, I will relate it to nutrition.

It is not uncommon for postpartum women to come into our office wondering what is the best way to loose weight. I usually respond by asking what they have heard and what they are thinking about doing. A lot of times they wonder which food group they should cut out of their diet. Other times they are curious what is the best cleanse to go on. And sometimes they have even heard that it is best to only eat one food group for a while.

I bet all of us have heard of at least one diet for each of those suggestions that they give. Am I right? Perhaps the South Beach Diet, or maybe the Grapefruit Diet, maybe eating for your blood type, hmm or the Clean Diet.

Let me give you a direct quote from the clean diet’s website. “Whereas we may lose weight on 2000 calories per day of Clean food we may gain weight on 1600 calories per day of junk.” This is metabolically and scientifically just not true. Although eating properly is VITAL to a person’s health, when we are ONLY talking about weight loss, the biggest factor is calories. Period. Let me give you an example. If you eat 900 kcals of donuts in one day and your body needs about 2000 kcals to function properly, you are at a loss of 1100 kcals. This is a deficit and this leads to weight loss. Yes, you are going to feel terrible and your body is definitely going to be lacking nutrients, but we are not talking about that right now. On the other hand, if you eat 2500 kcals of fresh, organic oranges in one day and say you still needed 2000 kcals, then you have consumed 500 more kcals than needed and your body will do what it is made to do (survive) by storing it as fuel (fat actually) for later. This is regardless of your shape, size, blood type, gender, etc. It’s how we were created and it is actually a pretty amazing system.

I explain this because it is way too often that people are sold into the idea that a certain fad-diet is the best way to lose weight, maintain weight, to stay healthy, etc. The problem is that all of those diets are out for one thing- to gladly take our money. So we literally buy into the idea that we need to cut entire food groups out of our diet, or buy a “health” drink that will help us lose weight, or only eat from a certain recipe book in order to maintain health. Wrong. And twisted too, in my opinion.

Living in this all or nothing mentality just doesn’t sound like abundant life to me. I much prefer the idea that all foods fit. This basically means that if you allow yourself to eat a piece of candy every now and then if that is what you crave, you are not going to die from it. And actually, you are not going to gain 20 pounds from it either. If you are anything like me, the more you tell yourself that you cannot have something, the more you want it. For many people it would look something like this… “I want to loose weight, so I am going to cut out all sweets from my diet”. That may work for a few days, heck even a few weeks. But give it time and the more that they continue to withhold it from themselves the more they want it. Eventually this leads to a binge which also leads to guilt, shame, and the cycle starts all over again.

What if we actually enjoyed our food? What if we listened to our bodies? What if we began to understand its hunger and fullness or its appreciation for the food that gives life. I read a book one time (In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollen- I HIGHLY recommend it) that said women in France when asked about what they associate with the words “chocolate cake” responded by saying things like celebration, family, friends, etc. when the same question was posed to American women, they responded with words like guilt, diet, fat, etc. Really? That is sad to me.

What if eating a slice of cake or a piece of candy or a soda didn’t break the standards we have for ourselves?? Keep in mind, this is coming from ME – the girl that could write up a storm about how much I disagree with high fructose corn syrup. But what if we work on nourishing our bodies with the foods we know to be full of nutrients and then allow ourselves to indulge in a slice of chocolate cake (full or sugar, fat, and delicious taste) every once in a while?

This mentality of all foods fit doesn’t require you to buy any step-by-step books or a certain juicer, or diet foods that are outrageously priced. It simply requires us to appreciate the foods that we eat, learn to eat a variety of foods in moderation, trust our bodies to tell us when we are full, step out our comfort zones and seek credible wisdom (such as the American Dietetic Association) about nutrition and how certain foods nourish the body, and finally evaluate each new diet we hear about with credible sources to determine if they are just another quick fix diet looking to make money.

Whew. Ok. To end, I must say that the reason I am so passionate about this topic is because I am totally an “All or Nothing” person. I write to myself and am by no means writing from a high-and-mighty place. Feel free to leave your feedback. I would love to hear your opinions even if they are different than mine!

And now, to go and enjoy the beautiful day that it is – full of beautiful leaves and the crisp fall air. Thanks for reading!

    2 thoughts on “All or Nothing Mentality

  1. Wow, this blog is awsome.
    You just made me realize how diets were working…
    I’ll keep reading you with pleisure and a lot of interest !!

  2. I so wish you could come train all my middle school girls and boys for that matter. I have a renewed conviction that my students are starving (for all practical purposes)… at least starving for nutrition. Out of that nagging concern, I am making plans to bring a crockpot of oatmeal to school each day for breakfasts but there are so many obstacles to such a simple idea. I’m so sad to think about their hunger pangs interfering with their learning. I think it may be true across demographics and regions – but that research will not be happening right away. Maybe someone is already working on that.

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