Starving for Perfection: The Art of Letting It Go

by Meredith Biggart MS, RD, LDN

We seek out perfection in so many facets of our lives — school, athletics, work, relationships, our bodies and in so many cases, our eating habits. And why shouldn’t we?  Society and the ever-evolving throw-it-in-your-face media is constantly subjecting us to its most ideal versions of us, telling us what we should look like and how we should eat to prove we somehow have value.

Some of us are so caught in the need for perfection that we continually set unrealistic expectations for ourselves.  The lure of dietary perfection is often the result of convincing ourselves that if we can simply control our eating, our anxiety brought on by our media induced thinness ideals will reduce dramatically.  It’s a lie.

Perfection, a b**ch of a word, is a concept whose existence is merely a fleeting moment we dream of.  The exhaustion and internal turmoil, caused by food restriction, deceives us into thinking that we’re one step closer to both personal and societal acceptance. Our brains trick us into believing that this system of restriction will fix the void we’re seeking to fill, until eventually, our bodies and minds go into a downward spiral.  

This problem can spin out of control.  In the pursuit of perfection, we can find ourselves off-course, and now instead of  controlling our intake, our intake controls us. Every time we eat, we experience the panic and lack of control that sent us seeking for perfection in first place.  

So, what now? Here are some positive recovery strategies to side step the pursuit of perfection:

  • Make peace with media or peer-inspired expectations and allow yourself to see that happiness is not about perfection.  It’s about the freedom and acceptance you get from letting perfection go.  
  • Be kind to yourself just as you would be to a friend in need of your love and guidance.  
  • Understand that your “imperfections” are what make you irresistible to those who are worth getting to love you. 
  • Know that the luring appeal of flawlessness promises only conditional acceptance, often only from those we see as we scroll through our Facebook feeds and Jane’s latest “fitstagram” post.

Perfection is the very reason this blog was tossed out fifteen times before finally accepting that it didn’t have to be flawless to be relatable.  As a matter of fact, its quirkiness may be its most relatable trait.