Is All Or Nothing Thinking Derailing Your Health?

A common mental habit that’s at the root of a lot of stress and self sabotage is All or Nothing Thinking.

I can NEVER eat pasta or bread if I want to lose weight.

I don’t have time to go to the gym, why bother doing ANY exercise.

I’m trying not to eat pizza, but since I CAVED and had a slice, I might as well have a couple more.

I lost 2 pounds last week but nothing this week, what I’m doing is NOT working.

I was “bad” today, I’ll just start NEXT week.

I’m not allowed to eat dessert EVER if I want to lose weight.

Does this sound familiar? When I hear this from my clients, I’m quick to point out that this mindset is a recipe for disappointment and misery.

When you engage in all or nothing thinking, your mind is telling you are a either a total success or a complete disaster. Who wants to live with the pressure of having to live up to unrealistc standards 100% of the time?

This level of rigidity whether its around food, “dieting”, weight loss or any other behavior sets the stage for toxic shame and self blame.

All or nothing thinking is a distorted perspective that increases stress and anxiety.

With some curious self exploration and practice, it is possible to rewire this health de-railing habit.

Here are my Top 3 Ways to Break the Habit of All or Nothing Thinking:

1) Get Some Perspective and Facts

Is it 100% true that if I ate ______, I’ve blown ALL my chances for weight loss? In reality, this is just a single occurence, no big deal, but going overboard and berating yourself will likely lead to poor eating the next day and the next.. Consider that the average persom eats about 85,000 meals in their lifetime.

Repeat aftrer me: “Body weight is not the sole measure of a healthy body.” Just because the scale is not going down as much as I think it should doesn’t negate all the other positive changes I am making to eat better and make myself a priority. Even more significant than weight is all the feedback my body is giving me: less cravings, more energy, mental clarity, better mood, less bloating, better digestion.

2) Notice How All or Nothing Thoughts Make You Feel

Feeling guilty, fearful, overwhelmed? What would it be like to break this cycle of deprivation and shame? What thoughts could you choose in this moment that would make you feel safe, reassured, hopeful, expansive? The thoughts we think can be even more toxic than the foods we’re trying so hard to avoid. Choose them wisely and remind yourself that emotional harm will never get you where you want to go.


My body is strong and capable.
I send love and compassion to the parts of my body that need it most.
I am always worthy of love and belonging.

3) Reframe All or Nothing Thoughts

“I can choose to have small portions of my favorite comfort foods on occasion like when I am enjoying eating out with friends. I am in charge, not the food, and I will mindfully enjoy each bite.”

“I release the need to punish myself and only make choices from a place of love.”

“I trust my body to tell me what it needs.”

To sum up, because our mental health is so critical to everything we do, it’s less about “Good” and “Bad” foods when it comes to health; what really matters for the long haul is your mindset.

For more, listen to this week’s podcast: “How Running and Meditation Saved My Life – Nita Sweeney, Author and Mental Health Advocate”

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