• James Heath

Beware of the 'all or nothing mindset'

Updated: Dec 16, 2019

No food is inherently bad for you because all food contains nutrients in one form or another. As such no food is inherently bad for you with with the exception of alcohol - a toxic diuretic that contains no nutrients. There is, however, such a thing as a good or bad diet.

Black and white thinking

The all or nothing mindset generally lends to the mindset of being on the plan or off the plan. Underpinning this mindset is a tendency for emotional 'black or white' thinking which is dangerous and often leads to the dreaded blowout (binge) to make yourself feel better. We've all been there!

Being on the plan for a few days then off the plan the next will yield poor results. The trick is learning to recognize when you're feeling emotional and manage your black and white thought processes. Avoid being all or nothing and understand that a little off plan is far more acceptable and in line with your goals then binge behaviors where you're thrown completely off track towards your health and fitness goals.

Plan ahead of time

If you're feeling low, stressed or have an important event planned, it is far better to plan a diet break ahead of time, rather than a sudden shift away and a loss of control in relation to your goals. A loss of control makes it more likely to prolong those behaviors "i'm off the plan so I may well carry on". In contrast if you want to do something different you can plan and use the days ahead and after the event. This may include skipping a meal you're fine without, doing some extra cardio or increasing your calorie expenditure with a planned walk. This can allow you to do something different such as eat any meal you want with your friend and still hit your weekly, monthly targets.


Alcohol contains lots of calories (7 kcal/g) and offers no nutritional value, making it a very poor choice for any healthy nutritional food program, especially a plan aimed at creating an energy deficit for fat loss. Furthermore alcohol clouds our judgement, making us even more susceptible to the pitfalls of emotional 'black and white' thinking. You may soon forget about your health and fitness goals 3 drinks in, and think wearing a traffic cone on your head is a better idea. Please understand you can drop fat and gain strength while drinking alcohol, provided you can avoid binge behaviors, and hit your weekly targets.

In my experience I advise to avoid alcohol altogether and remind clients a weekend blowout is only short-lived and does not correlate with the goals set (usually fat loss).

In other words… a short-lived shot term emotional strategy that only perpetuates the endless cycle of more poor behavior. If you resist the urge, I guarantee you will feel far happier with a better body

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