Stop striving for perfection. Our bodies like averages, nutritionist says

Stop striving for perfection. Our bodies like averages, nutritionist says

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Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — It's easy to get caught up in perfection when it comes to nutrition. We are constantly bombarded with messages making it seem like it's necessary to consume a specific amount of calories, grams of fat, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and servings of fruits and vegetables.

This information is typically put out there with good intentions to help us live the healthiest lives we can, but for some people, these recommendations can trigger disordered eating or even full-blown eating disorders.

The truth is there's no such thing as eating perfectly. Healthy eating isn't perfect eating and perfect eating isn't healthy eating. Perfection with food simply doesn't exist, and the mere idea of expecting perfection can often be the very thing that causes chaos and dysfunction with food.

Here's what I'm trying to get at: Consistency over time is what really matters with nutrition. There is great value for doing the best you can with your eating. However, when you fall short and have a day where you overdo it, forget to eat your greens, or even when you may under eat, remember that your body likes averages. We are biologically set up for imperfection with our eating.

This idea can be helpful and freeing. Some days you might find yourself eating a nutritious salad with all kinds of greens and that day you might eat well over your need for vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, etc. Then the next day, you might undereat some of those nutrients. One day of not enough vitamin C is not going to cause scurvy. One day of not honoring your hunger and fullness cues does not make you a failure.

Our bodies like averages. Your body naturally takes into account what you've provided it with on average over the last week or so. It can hold on to excess calories, vitamins or minerals if needed to prepare for days where those nutrients might be unavailable. Our bodies are amazing and have a built-in mechanism for allowing us to be imperfect or, in other words, human. We have this idea that our bodies are so fragile that they need numbers and perfection to function — but this notion simply isn't true.

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Be careful not to misinterpret this way of thinking into believing you shouldn't eat anything the day after an overeating episode because you feel your body needs to average out. What I'm saying is that your body will naturally find the average as you do your best to honor hunger and fullness cues. You should practice balance and take good care of yourself generally with sleep, movement, hydration and stress management. Consistency is what matters over time and your body doesn't need micromanaging to find that balance.

Consistency, consistency, consistency. Remember that principle and you will do just fine. If you can look at yourself in the mirror at the end of each day and honestly say that you are doing your best, then let that be good enough. Whether it's about food or about relationships or life in general, you really can only do your best. Try your best to get a good balance of foods, adequate sleep, manage your stress and connect to your values. On the days you fall short of "perfection" with your eating (which is every day) remember your body doesn't expect or need perfection to thrive.

![Paige Smathers](\.jpg?filter=ksl/65x65)
About the Author: Paige Smathers --------------------------------

Paige Smathers, RDN, CD is a registered dietitian nutritionist in private practice and podcaster whose work revolves around helping people heal their relationships with food and their body. She specializes in chronic dieting, addiction recovery nutrition, eating disorders and family feeding dynamics. She is the owner of Positive Nutrition™, which provides individual nutrition therapy, online courses, and mentorship and coaching for professionals. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook for more food for thought!

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Editor’s Note: Anything in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended, nor should it be interpreted, to (a) be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition; (b) create, and receipt of any information does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. You should NOT rely upon any legal information or opinions provided herein. You should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel; and (c) create any kind of investment advisor or financial advisor relationship. You should NOT rely upon the financial and investment information or opinions provided herein. Any opinions, statements, services, offers, or other information or content expressed or made available are those of the respective author(s) or distributor(s) and not of KSL. KSL does not endorse nor is it responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any opinion, information, or statement made in this article. KSL expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the content of this article.

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