Perfectionism is something so many of us deal with, especially those of us who struggle with our relationship with food. It also is something that’s incredibly important to focus on in working to improve that relationship with food. What happens if we don’t address perfectionism in our relationship with food? Well for many of us, it can easily lead to looking at eating intuitively in the same rigid way we look at diets.
This often looks like becoming very concerned with eating in an intuitive way "perfectly". Usually, intuitive eating starts to look like a “hunger fullness diet” when this happens. In other words, we get so preoccupied with eating only in response to our hunger and fullness cues that we look at it as a failure if we eat when we aren’t very hungry, eat beyond satisfaction, or eat emotionally. It’s important to recognize that this black and white thinking around eating in response to hunger and fullness is still a food rule. Like all the other food rules we followed in our dieting days, this food rule often leads to binging in response to the restriction this food rule creates.
Another common way perfectionism shows up in our efforts to improve our relationship with food is in us continuing to have a lot of concern around the “health” of our diet. Many people who begin improving their relationship with food find themselves at various points in their journey having the thought of “I’m allowing myself all foods but am I eating healthy enough? Do I need to start eating more of food X and less of food Y” etc. This can easily spiral into food rules and again, often binging in response.
It’s important to keep in mind that eating is not supposed to be about perfection. Eating is about both enjoyment and fueling our bodies and that means eating a variety of foods, sometimes foods we wouldn’t necessarily deem “healthy”. Also, for many people at the beginning of the intuitive eating process, they will be very drawn to all those foods they forbid in their dieting days which often comes with the feeling of “Oh no I’m going to eat this way forever!” This naturally leads to concerns about the health of the foods we eat and again can lead to food rules and binging. Because it is so easy to get in this perfectionistic mind set about food, perfectionism is an incredibly important aspect to address in eating in a more mindful way.
Questions about perfectionism around foods or anything else food and body image related? Feel free to get in touch.