So, you fell. You were on track with eating lots of healthy, whole plant foods and you slipped up. You ate something you’re not proud of. Maybe you drank something that you’re not happy about. We get it.
First of all, remind yourself that this happens. If we were all perfect beings capable of never faltering, life would be boring. And there would never be any challenge to grow or get better. And even if that world sounds nice — well, it’s not happening any time soon for any of us — sorry!
So, then, this means we have to learn how to pick ourselves back up. The typical cycle for most people is the following: fall off the plan. Self loathe. Feel guilt. Beat self up. Maybe even do more “bad” because we feel so low. Pick ourselves up after a few hours (or days) and then try again. Repeat. This cycle is no fun for anyone. It involves a whole lot of negative emotion which can harm your body from the inside out. And it really sets you up for failure again.
So, what’s a Green Monster hoping to change his or her habits for good to do? Well, for starters, it involves a whole lot of prep first. Then, beyond that, it’s all mental. Try these simple mental hacks to pick yourself back up if you fail on your quest to become a full-on whole foods, plant-based eater the next time, and see if this method helps you to cut the cycle of self-shaming, guilt, and inevitably just doing it all over again!
1. Remember That You’re on A Journey
Ok, yes, it’s sort of cheesy, this whole “life is a journey, not a destination” thing. But it does need to become your healthy eating mantra, cheesey as it may be. Cold turkey changes work for some people, and some really can change their mind on something one day and then never look back again. But for most of us mere mortals, there is really no point at which we can look ourselves in the mirror and say: “ok, I’m perfect now.” I have followed a vegan diet for years. I aspire to eat many more raw foods to the point where I can say I am nearly 100 percent raw vegan. But does that happen every day? No. It can’t, unless I give up my job, my bank account contents, my life, traveling, basically everything to ensure that I am always eating fresh, raw, organic, vegan food. It can’t happen every day, and that’s ok. I’m on a journey that has lots of oceans, mountains, and roads, which means lots of waves, uphill treks, and curves and bumps along the way, and at no point will I reach an end, unless the whole rest of the world suddenly turns raw organic vegan, too. Since that’s not yet happening — let’s recognize that mistakes happen. If you know that going in, you’ll be able to pick yourself up from that that much faster. Now, this of course rides the line between constantly making excuses for yourself, but just be honest with yourself. You know the difference deep down.
2. Know When To Pick Your Battles — With Yourself
Sometimes we are so much harder on ourselves than others ever would be. Be more gentle with yourself, people. You’re the closest friend you’ve got, really. And when you beat yourself up after taking a bite of something you’re not happy about, you’re starting a battle that just probably isn’t necessary. Now, if you went all out and ate three meals in a day of stuff that you knew wasn’t good for you, maybe give yourself a bit of a loving (key word LOVING) talking to. But is your whole life going to change because you took a bite of something while out at dinner with friends? Probably not. Pick your battles. Know when to ease up on yourself like you would a family member or partner. Be gentle, my friends.
3. Know When Bumps Are Worth It
You should indeed aspire to be your best self. But also keep in mind that life is short. Is your quest to eat entirely whole foods worth staying home for your non-whole-food-eating friend’s birthday party at a burger joint? You have to make these decisions on your own, of course, and there are some who might refuse to go regardless, but I am of the mindset that there may be some bumps that might be worth enduring from time to time. This is of course not to say you need to go eat a burger there. But you can endure a cooked veggie burger that might have some processed ingredients for the sake of the things that matter most at the end of the day, right? Or you could opt for that salad once again, even if you know it’s not organic. If all else fails, eat beforehand and have a drink. There are ways around all of this that don’t require non-attendance or all-out failure. Like the point mentioned above, loosen up with yourself. Allow a bump. Be part of the journey. Know that you do the best you can with what you have. Be gentle on yourself instead of beating yourself up for that bite of processed restaurant chocolate cake. Or don’t have the bite. Either way, don’t miss out on things in life just because a bump could happen.
If you give yourself a more positive, self-loving mindframe on your journey to become a healthier eater, you will be easier on yourself when you fail. Some people beat themselves up to the point that they just give up altogether — and you want to avoid that option at all costs. So start with your mind, and be your own biggest supporter for once. Stop with the guilt. Allow bumps to happen. And remember you’re never going to be perfect, no matter what you do — so why act like you can get to that point? This mental state will allow you to blossom and make the best decisions possible for yourself in your healthy eating quest going forward.
Image source: Diet Management / Creative Commons