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  • Writer's pictureRobin Rhine McDonald

Extreme diets: a symptom of extreme thinking?

Perhaps you've noticed the polarity in our country these days. The last few years it seems we've really made a habit of labeling, judging, and separating according to certain views and perspectives.

One of the driving thought patterns in this divisiveness is either/or thinking.

You're either liberal or conservative.

For masks or anti-mask.

Black lives matter or all lives matter.

Open businesses or keep them closed.

It seems that middle ground positions and questions regarding these issues are unwelcome and discouraged. Every concept has an ultimatum of being pro or anti something.

I've noticed this more and more recently. It's something I've found myself frustrated with. My frustration began with those I labeled as "causing the problem". As I've reflected further, though, I've realized that it's my own propensity towards black or white thinking that upsets me the most.

It's that fixed mindset view of "this is how things are and there's nothing we can do about it". It doesn't give way to alternative perspectives, different approaches, or an openness to listen to those who think differently. It strives to be right, and to prove that our perspective makes sense.

Why is it that we gravitate towards such extremes?

In a lot of ways, I think it's because it's easier.

It's easier to take on a certain perspective when it is very clear what the parameters for that line of thinking are. It doesn't take any effort to hold that view. It's defined and it can be contrasted with an opposing view.

For example, when I work with a client that requests that I give them a "eat this" and "don't eat this" list. In this mindset, they don't want to know why certain foods are healthier or unhealthier, nor do they want to work towards moderation in their choices. They want a clear cut guide that they can default to for their choices. They've found that to be easier.

This works for some.

I've found, though, it's rarely sustainable. And it's even less likely to cultivate a healthy, grace-based relationship with food. It creates "bad foods" and a propensity to shame oneself when those foods are consumed.

Another example is the tendency to want a quick fix solution. We want the scale to go down fast and far. We try working out every single day for an hour and cutting out all sorts of foods that have been part of our diets all of our lives for several weeks. We get to the weight and size that we want to be, and then what happens? We go back to our usual way of life and end up back where we started or worse.

This plays out in our approach to what's going on in this world. We live in reaction, wanting fast solutions that send us into a vicious cycle.

I've been saying this regarding Covid - it's important to address what's happening by taking precautions. At the same time (yes, I'm saying both/and, not either/or), it's just as, or even more important, to look at how we got here and how to reduce the chaos we are experiencing currently.

How do we increase overall health? What recommendations can be given to boost immunity?

What can be put in place to reduce the number of at-risk individuals in our country?

Will there be regulations placed on ultraprocessed food?

On sugar consumption? Soda?

What if we considered the opportunities that can create long term solutions, that bring us into a different outcome, that end the cycle, and that create forward movement?

While I ask these questions regarding our current context, I continue to search myself and see how I can remain open, humble, and in a mindset of growth.

Underneath it all, I think this is what we all want.

That's why these are the values taught and integrated into my Sustainable Health Transformation 12 week program. We take the lies and misunderstandings of the extreme diets of our past and take hold of grace and truth to redefine our value and our approach to healthy living. We look at what's sustainable, enjoyable, long lasting, and mindful of the bigger picture.

Does that sound like the kind of health journey you want to be on? If so, I'd love to talk with you and see if this program is a good fit for you. Truth be told, it's not for everyone. What I do make sure of is that everyone I talk with leaves the conversation with greater clarity and steps to move forward! Click here to set up a call!

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