The Good Enough Diet

My baby boy turned one year old last week. Birthdays have always been a natural time of reflection, and my son’s birthday was no exception. My husband and I found ourselves reminiscing a lot about the past year; talking about the enormous challenges of becoming parents for the first time, the incredible joys, the sleepless nights, the embarrassing moments, and the times that made us laugh, cry, and everything in between.

Needless to say, becoming a parent has profoundly changed me. And one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is my general approach to life, specifically my perfectionism. Perhaps academically, perfectionism is an asset, but in all other ways, I find it’s a difficult, daily struggle. However, now as a parent, there’s simply not enough time, nor do I have enough energy, to devote to trying to be perfect, which of course is an impossible task anyway! Taking care of a little human being has demanded that I prioritize in a way I never have before, and accept as a success when something is simply “good enough”.

In fact, this “good enough” concept has become somewhat of a mantra for me, albeit unintentionally. When feeling inadequate as a mom, I began reminding myself that I just have to be good enough; good enough that my child is taken care of and feels loved. When I am feeling guilty for skipping the gym for the 4th day in a row, I take a walk outside and remind myself that it’s good enough; good enough for health and stress reduction in this phase of my life. When I see piles of laundry and floors that haven’t been swept in a week, I put in one load of laundry, pick up the obvious piles of dog hair, and I remind myself that it’s good enough; good enough that my house isn’t in complete shambles.

This good enough concept easily extends to diet as well, and this is actually something that I’ve been practicing for much longer than just my last year of non-perfectionism. I talk frequently about the 80/20 rule of moderation, which is another way of saying and affirming that perfectionism and diet don’t pair well. 

How many times have you given up on a diet because you ate one off-plan food? “I already screwed up”, you might think, “so it doesn’t matter now!” And maybe you go from having one extra drink at happy hour to a whole weekend of indulgent food and drinks. Or maybe you don’t even want to try eating a healthier diet, because you know you can’t live up to that stringent paleo/no-added-sugar diet your friend or co-worker is touting.

The “good enough” diet is different. Eating good enough means healthy changes that you can sustain for the rest of your life instead of dramatic shifts you stick to for just 14 or 30 or 60 days. Cutting your overall added sugar intake by 25% for good is much more powerful than doing a zero-sugar challenge for two weeks.

A belief in the  “good enough” diet is what led Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN to develop the 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade program, and it’s why I’m such a proponent of the program.

Unlike other 30-day nutrition “boot camps,” the 30 Day Nutrition Upgrade doesn’t ask you to eliminate entire food groups or follow a rigid or restrictive protocol. You don’t have to avoid restaurants, cancel social plans, or pack special food to bring with you everywhere. You’ll just keep on living your regular life, only a little bit healthier.

The 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade features the Nutrition GPA™ app, which was recently named by the New York Times as one of 4 best food tracking apps! Each day, you answer 10 yes-or-no questions about your diet and get a grade for the day. Your daily grades are then averaged to reveal your Nutrition Grade Point Average (GPA).

There’s no grade inflation here; we’re not aiming for an A. We’re aiming for a solid B. Because a good-enough diet is healthier than a “perfect” diet followed by a reactionary binge.

As simple and fun as it is, the Nutrition GPA is a powerful tool. As one recent Nutrition Upgrader wrote: “Good news: One D day does not shift my GPA all that much. Bad news: One A day does not shift my GPA all that much. It really is the pattern of your eating on most days!”

The best part is that when we get to the end of the 30 days, you won’t be celebrating that it’s over. On day 31, you’ll be thinking, “Hey, that was easy! And I feel great! Let’s keep going!

The next 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade for MUS is kicking off this Friday, October 12th and there are still spots open! Come join us! We can’t wait for you to throw unattainable perfection to the curb and embrace the “good enough” diet. 

Happy “Good Enough” Eating,

Cristin

You must be a MUS Benefits Plan member to participate in the Nutrition Upgrade for MUS. For our blog readers who are not MUS Benefits Plan members, you can sign up here for the next Nutrition Upgrade for the general public, beginning October 19th.

 

 

How do you figure what is 20%?

In Episode 2 of the Montana Moves and Meals podcast, we discussed my first nutrition tenet: the 80/20 rule of moderation. This principle is meant to allow for some flexibility in one’s diet to include foods that we enjoy but that may not be great for us (the 20%), while maintaining a focus on eating for health (the 80%). By following this tenet, you lose the all-or-nothing approach to nutrition and the excuse that “the diet starts tomorrow!”

After we posted the podcast, I received the following question: “How do you figure what is 20%? 20% of the days? 20% of meals? 20% of calories?” Great question, and one that I felt deserved to be answered for everyone, not just for those who are comment readers.

First, determining the 80% vs 20% is really up to individual discretion. There are no hard and fast rules. But here’s my take:  I would say the percentages should be considered in the context of all of the food/beverage choices that you make over the course of a day. If you think about it, we make dozens of eating choices everyday – wheat bread or white? Salad or fries? Trail mix or chips? Milk or water? Opening the refrigerator door or not, etc. So, to follow the 80/20 rule, 80% of those choices are the healthy option; 20% of those choices are based purely on what you want.

I would judge the 80/20 breakdown over a day or even a couple of days as you might have entire meals that are mostly in the 80 or 20 category, but hopefully not entire days that are in the 20%. Determining the 20% doesn’t need to be an exact science; it’s more of just a basic guiding principle and reminder that most of our diet should consist of healthy foods, while still leaving room for foods that make us happy & satisfied. In fact, think broadly when considering this principle. Resist the temptation to categorize each and every food as good or bad, as it’s all too easy to extend this to a judgement about ourselves as good or bad for eating that food. We eat a variety of foods for a variety of reasons, and the food we eat has no bearing on our worth as a person. It does however, have a bearing on our health outcomes and health risks, and that’s why it’s important to prioritize healthy nutritional choices.

Hope this helps.

Happy Eating!

Cristin