I am a perfectionist. It is a major character defect that I continue to work on. It helps me in some ways--I work hard for my patients and hold myself to a high standard. But it works against me in many other ways--spending too long trying to write the perfect patient note (or blog post for that matter!), obsessing over tiny mistakes that others don't notice...the list could go on and on.
Strangely enough though, I am not a perfectionist with food. At least not anymore!
I'm sharing this because I was sitting at the table tonight after dinner and thinking about the meal I just had: Chinese food. Vegan--Yes. Sugar-free, Gluten-free, Oil-free--not likely. Am I obsessing about it and telling myself how "bad" I am. Nope. Do I feel like I need to run and call my sponsor? Nope. Because I know (and so does she) that I cannot be a perfect eater. I tried to be one for years and all it did is make me fat. I hate that word but is still the truth! I was a perfectionist who constantly failed at eating healthfully and told myself I was "bad" when I ate unhealthy foods! Not a happy feeling!
Do many of you do that? Say I was "good" today or I was "bad" today when you talk about what you ate? I think that somehow we all got trained in the idea that some foods were "bad" and some foods were "good" so if we ate from each category, our behavior was defined the same way!
Why am I not extraordinarily displeased with my food tonight? Because all we can do is the best we can. My food choices were healthy ones but not perfect ones. My sponsor tells me--just do your best. A friend from program reminded me the other day that "Perfect is the enemy of good."
Yes, I am committed to eating gluten-free. I can always do it at home. Most of the time when I'm out there are great options but if there aren't than I just make purposeful choices--like not eating anything fried because I know its coated in flour! Yes, I am committed to eating sugar-free. At home this is a breeze--this means that I look at every bottle I eat and if sugar is one of the first four ingredients, than its not going to be eaten by me. When I'm out, I primarily focus on specifically not choosing to eat anything that I KNOW has sugar as one of the primary ingredients--i.e. candy, desserts, etc. Yes, I'm committed to eating oil free. At home I do ok with this commitment. Eating out is a bit harder but do-able and I never purposely order anything that has an obviously high oil content--i.e. vegetables in an olive oil sauce. This is doing the best I can. I'm not going to run off and binge if I have a little gluten or sugar in a sauce. There are SOME foods that I eliminate nearly perfectly because I WILL feel like I want to run off and binge if I eat them: cheese being one of them. But even cheese I can't say I've been completely perfect on because I can remember one occasion where I found cheese had been in a dish after I ate most of it!
I don't know if this makes any sense but I just wanted to reassure you that despite my commitment to my dietary ideals expressed in the previous posting, I could not ever say that I've eaten 100% according to my ideal. About 80% of the time yes--but never 100! So that is not a perfect record.
And I think that is ok. Because obsessing over every bite is what got me into this mess in the first place. The most important thing is that I try--I try to eat what my body needs to feel good and healthy. And most of the time--80% of the time--I do and it does!
Now the important question to ask me is: how do I feel right now? Well, my back has started to hurt. My skin feels a little itchy. I've got a bit of a headache brewing. And I know that it is the effect of the food on me. I have eaten a highly inflammatory meal--which means that I won't be eating anything like this for awhile if I want to feel good. I'm being reminded that this meal does not feel good--the food is damaging rather than healing my body.
And that is a good reminder. :-)