Do we have to be perfect all the time?

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Can we be perfect all the time?

I am not going to lie. I want to be perfect all the time. So much so, that I rather not do a task than not do it perfectly. The downside of being a perfectionist.

Today I am talking about diet. Whatever you think the perfect diet is, it most definitely does not include junk food, candy, doughnuts and chips.

If you are insulin resistant or Type 2 diabetic, high sugar fruit isn't part of a perfect diet. The sugar in fruit - even though it is natural - will spike your insulin and glucose levels.

If you have to be on insulin or other diabetes medication in order to enjoy fruit, ask yourself, if the fruit is worth the complications down the line.

There was a discussion in a diabetes group. Someone mentioned eating a whole high sugar fruit. While most people said not to eat fruit or eat it in moderation, one comment stood out that said to just eat the whole fruit, because we can't be perfect all the time.

Can we be perfect all the time?

It turns out there are two types of people. Abstainers and moderators.


These are the people that do best when they do not completely restrict their favourite foods. Granted, these foods made them sick, but they find the willpower to moderate these foods now. They are happy with just a quarter banana or just two pieces of the chocolate bar. They assume that what works for them should work for everyone. They are not aware, that most people cannot moderate.


Most people do best abstaining. And that makes sense. While fruit is not addictive, it can trigger cravings in people that are addicted to sugar. For abstainers it is easier to cut out a substance entirely than to moderate it.

This might not be as obvious when it comes to fruit or a tiny piece of cake. It is more obvious when thinking of an alcoholic. One feature of alcoholics is that they cannot moderate. Every little sip will put them in a tale spin of losing complete control. The path of addiction, whether alcohol or sugar, is the same. Every little cheat trains the brain to crave the addictive substance harder - be it alcohol, drugs, or sugar.

In which category are you?

I am an abstainer. I kept failing at diets, because well-meaning friends convinced me that I cannot cut out certain foods forever. I would crave them more every day, and then completely lose control.

What happened though was, when I made a planned cheat, like an alcoholic, my carb addiction got the better of me and I still lost control.

After 30+ years of yoyo dieting, I finally figured out that as an abstainer I could not allow myself cheats. Like an alcoholic, I had to completely abstain from the temptation of carbs in processed food and any type of sugar.

Is my food addiction cured?

No, not yet. And I don't see a cure on the horizon. The pathways for addiction were laid a long time ago. I always have to double check my behaviour for other addictive or obsessive behaviours. As long as I am aware of that, I can adjust and tweak and keep myself out of trouble.

What I cannot do is cheat. A cheat meal or cheat day would crush my resolve.

The inconvenient truth

Most of us are abstainers. It is an inconvenient truth. Who wants to eliminate certain foods that have no nutritional, but a lot of emotional value. No one wants to be told "you can't have that anymore". Most people are offended by the mere mention of food addiction. They don't see themselves as junkies and find every excuse under the sun to justify their toxic food choices. Just like a junky would.

Back to the question, can you be perfect all the time?

The answer is yes and no. It is probably impossible to be perfect in all aspects of life. Job, family, education, money, diet, lifestyle, health. When we look at Facebook posts, it may seem that some of our friends have it all figured out. But they are probably struggling like everybody else.

Don't strive to be perfect across the board. Pick one battle at a time. One thing can be done perfectly. Baby-steps. Fix one issue at a time.

My first pick was to keep carbs under 20 g net carbs per day. High carb foods are just not an option, when you want to keep carbs that low. At that time I did not consider the quality of food. I soothed my sweet tooth with mug cakes, fat bombs and unrestricted consumption of zero carb foods.

Being exposed to the keto community I learned that food quality matters too. One by one I picked more battles. No more seed oils, no more night shades, no more processed foods. Eventually garlic, onions and legumes were added to my growing list of foods I would no longer eat.

Instead of feeling restricted, something unexpected happened. I felt liberated. I felt in control. My health was improving and getting healthy was now my top priority.

I am still not perfect in all aspects of my life though. I yet have to accept the importance of good quality sleep. Intellectually I know that good sleep is important. But I have not made the decision yet to embrace it.

This sounds weird, but this is how my decision making has been working for the past 29 months. Once I accept that something is not good for me, it becomes a non-option.

An example for that is a bread mix, that I really liked. I was keto compliant. But this bread also triggered me to eat too much. I could not let go of it. But when I learned that it contained legumes, it was no longer an option.

This works a little like a switch. It is on or off. Black or white. There is no room for leeway. There is no room for moderation. I am an abstainer.

Final thought: Instead of deciding for each food item whether you should or should not eat it, make just one decision. Is it healthy? You know what is healthy. If it is, go ahead and eat it. If it isn't, don't eat it. This hack will massively reduce the number of decisions throughout your day. You won't have to think about food all day anymore.

Written by Roxana Soetebeer
Published: April 9nd, 2022

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