A healthy balanced diet needs to meet certain nutrition ideals, but in our quest for a ‘perfect’ diet we can sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture of a healthy eating plan.
When we try to eat healthier, we’re trying to do better. We’re trying to find the ideal, the optimal diet. A lot of people get caught up looking for perfect.
It’s great to have the goal of wanting to find better health, more energy and avoid disease by shifting to healthy eating habits.
But if you’re looking for the absolute best diet plan for all humans, I’m not so sure there is such a thing…
Is There Such Thing As Perfect?
When you look at any topic, there are going to be aspects that are good and aspects that are bad.
I think of healthy eating as a healthy balanced diet. Balanced meaning eating foods that are super nutritious, but also feeling happy and good about yourself.
With anything in life, there’s usually two sides of the coin. Vegetables are super healthy, and we should all eat lots of them. But even they aren’t perfect.
They’re packed with nutrients, water and fiber – but they also have some natural toxins in them. Raw vegetables are highest in nutrients, but cooked vegetables allows us to absorb more of those nutrients.
That doesn’t mean we should avoid eating vegetables, or that raw ones aren’t good, it’s just an example of how even the best things aren’t ‘perfect’.
When it comes to the human system, it’s so intricate and unique and constantly changing that I really don’t think there’s one perfect way of eating.
There might be something that’s ideal for one person, and that might be different for someone else.
And if something is ideal for me right now in the summer, like lots of raw salads and fruit, it might not be ideal for me in the winter.
I’m eating foods that are ideal for me right now when I’m 30, but when I’m 60 years old I probably won’t be eating the exact same diet.
When you think of perfection, try to remember that maybe there’s no such thing as an objective perfection. There’s a subjectiveness and an individuality to what you see as perfect…
Different Perspectives On ‘Perfect’
Everyone has their own view of the world. We each come to every situation with a different background, and at a different point of a different journey.
Getting too caught up in ‘perfection’ can sometimes trap us in our own perspective, and we miss out on learning from all the perspectives around us.
One person might see me as perfect because I only eat plant foods, I eat almost all whole foods, and lots of fresh veggies and fruit.
If I were left alone with an Oreo and a mango on the table, I would choose the mango. It would make me happier.
Someone else might see me as completely imperfect because I eat canned beans sometimes, I use salt and unrefined sugars and sometimes unrefined oils.
People look at things from different angles and have different needs. Everyone’s idea of what ‘perfect’ is is going to be slightly different.
One of the biggest issues I see with striving too hard to reach perfection is the stress it can cause. Stress is really unhealthy, and can negate some of the benefits of healthy eating.
Now, you can’t use this as a cop out and say that you can’t eat healthy because it stresses you out. Any change you try to make is going to create stress.
Positive changes are so beneficial in the long run, and a small amount of stress in the process of changing isn’t going to outweigh those benefits.
Where the problem comes in is when people try to make changes too quickly, or worry about being totally perfect.
Setting expectations that are too high to achieve causes stress and disappointment.
This is something that I’ve noticed in myself. Not really in terms of healthy eating, but in my work-life balance.
I want to do a lot of things in my life, and I want to help as many people as I can to be healthy and happy through my meal plans, consultations and free videos.
When I don’t live up to the goals that I’ve set for myself, and the expectations that I have of what I should accomplish, I feel disappointed.
My expectations were probably just too high, because there are only so many hours in the day.
Life is too short to always feel disappointed in yourself.
I think more important than striving for perfection is striving for healthiness, for happiness, and for improvement.
You shouldn’t use the excuse that you don’t want stress so you’re not going to try to change.
But be compassionate to yourself. Realize that you can’t do everything, you can’t change all at once.
Celebrate what you’re able to accomplish, and keep going from there.
Have fun, make healthy foods and try your best – but don’t beat yourself up if you’re not perfect and don’t be militant with yourself or others.
Which brings me to my next thought on perfection…
If you try to be too perfect all the time, you can alienate yourself from your friends and family.
That’s especially true if you’re always commenting on why you do or don’t do certain things, and why it’s better than what they’re doing.
Even if you don’t mean it to come out like that, people will often take those kinds of comments as judgement.
People are always comparing themselves to others, and friends and family will compare themselves to you.
Even if you don’t say a word, people might think that if you put out an image of being too perfect that you’re silently judging them.
It can go too far in the other direction, though. I don’t think you should give in to peer pressure, especially when it comes to unhealthy social norms like junk food.
I’m the kind of person who will tend to shy away from confrontation, because I hate it and I hate people thinking I’m judging them.
I find that if people feel judged and inferior, they’re not as likely to hear or see my message and be motivated to make positive changes for themselves.
There’s definitely a place for being a good example of healthiness, and showing how you can still be happy and have fun without eating junk.
It’s a fine line between being a good example and being an annoying goody-two-shoes. I think the biggest difference is in your own attitude…
When I try for perfection, it kills my productivity. This post and video is a perfect example…
I spent a long time writing and filming it, because I wanted to make sure that my thoughts were coherent and balanced and that people wouldn’t take my message the wrong way.
Of course, it’ll never be perfect. There will always be someone who has a different perspective and sees something differently than I do.
Even if I did somehow manage to make this post perfect, I think it might lose some of its value. Part of my reason for writing it is to bring out your thoughts and discussion.
There’s the old 80/20 rule that says you get 80% of your results from 20% of your efforts.
You can somewhat relate that to healthy eating, since a good portion of your results come from sticking to the basics of a healthy eating plan.
I don’t mean that you can get 80% of your health from 20% of your diet, but that if you look at the effort going into your diet you can see what brings most of your results.
Everyone can see huge improvement from eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies, drinking lots of water and sticking with whole foods.
If you follow those basics, you set a level of healthiness for your body that enables it to handle a certain amount of crap.
Your body is designed to handle toxins.
It wasn’t designed to handle the huge load we’re putting on it these days, and it wasn’t designed for certain chemical toxins like in processed foods.
But it can deal with a certain amount of that stuff if you maintain a base level of healthiness.
When you get into the smaller stuff (like canned vs. dried beans or soaking and sprouting all your seeds, nuts, grains and beans), those things will get you more nutrients, energy and overall health – but usually for a bigger additional effort.
Those things are also relative – for someone who has never cooked for themself before, soaking and sprouting brown rice before cooking and eating it would be a gargantuan effort.
But for someone like me, who has been making all my own food for years, it’s not as huge an effort to do those kinds of things. And even I don’t do it on a regular basis, although I’d like to.
The Bottom Line…
I think that we should all strive to be as healthy as we can, but also as happy as we can.
There’s no point being healthy if you’re not going to enjoy your life.
We should be trying to improve from what the social norm is for eating, because it’s leading us down a very unhealthy path.
My point here is that I think a healthy balanced diet doesn’t have to mean striving for perfection.
If you have some thoughts to share, I’d love to hear your perspective below…