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Mistakes are made for learning - Kim Hofmann

What do you do when you’ve veered off from your eating plan? Do you call yourself a failure and throw in the towel? Or are you able to look at the situation objectively, learn from it and move on?  We all make mistakes*, especially when it comes to food and eating. We have to learn to accept that. 

There are a couple of important concepts that come off of this line of thinking. 

  • We need to learn to be flexible within our diet
  • We need to learn that all foods can play a role in our diet
  • We need to learn to move on when our diet hasn’t been ideal
  • We need to learn to stop focusing on the number


Flexibility within the diet

I do start my clients off on a structured plan to get them and their bodies into a routine and for them to start practicing understanding their bodies and body cues, but as we move along it is vital that they learn to bring in flexibility. What this means is that they learn to start making their own food decisions based on their own needs, wants, likes etc. For example, I may say to a client that they need to have an afternoon snack of a fruit, but what if that is too little for them and they are getting too hungry by dinnertime, or they really feel like a biscuit instead of a fruit? We need to learn how to adapt the plan to ensure that we are getting what we need. And especially to ensure that we don’t feel like we are making mistakes because we can’t do the plan perfectly.

All foods can play a role in the diet

A really important concept to learn is that you can allow any foods to be part of your eating plan.  There are definitely foods that we should try to eat more often, and those that we should keep at a minimum and use only occasionally. The important point is that you can work anything into your plan. And psychologically, this will help you. When we say to ourselves we can’t, then we crave it more! So let’s start saying we can. Again, start off with a bit more of a structured rule such as 3 small treats per week, and as we start understanding our body and habits we can do it more intuitively.

Dust yourself off and get back up again

So you lost the plot, had a bad day, came home and devoured a packet of biscuits or chips. Does that mean that you failed? Does it mean that you are no good? Does it mean that your healthy eating cannot be continued? Of course not. It just means that your (new) coping mechanisms weren’t enough yet to prevent a relapse of old habits. We need to learn to forgive ourselves and keep going.  And do it with kindness and love. It takes time to change habits.

  • Look at what happened before the unhealthy eating or binge.  Perhaps you didn’t eat or drink enough during the day because you were so hectic, and you were too hungry or thirsty when you got home? 
  • Look at what it was that you really needed.  Maybe talking to someone or going for a walk would have helped.
  • And think of a plan of action for next time you are in this situation.


Stop focusing on the number (i.e. stop weighing yourself)

Another important point is that we have to learn not to worry about our number. Easier said than done, I know, but if we focus too much on our number it becomes really difficult to motivate ourselves to get back on track. The number is not always the best indicator as to how well we are sticking to our plan as the weight can be up or down because of many reasons. We may need to halt weight gain before the loss can start, we may need to get our metabolism working better before weight loss can occur. Your body is healing itself when you eat right. The number will follow, but we need to be patient and stop using the weight as a benchmark as to whether we are doing well. We know we are doing well when our eating habits are right.

*I should actually say we all make ‘mistakes’.  By mistakes I mean what you personally deem to be ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’.  Who says that when we eat something that is not on our (strict) eating plan, even if it is a less healthy option, that it is wrong?

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