In food, quality is always relative. There’s no such thing as a universally “good” or “bad” food.
Every food has pros and cons. Every food will be more or less right for you, depending on the situation. Rather than a simple “good” or “bad”, it’s more reasonable to assess choices on a continuum of “better” to “worse”.
Thinking on scales of relativity is called thinking on a continuum. It’s a powerful and more realistic frame of mind than its counterpart: absolute thinking.
And, continuum thinking doesn’t only apply to food.
Progress over perfection
“Thinking on a continuum” aims for incremental progress, rather than perfection.
Every choice you make can be assessed on a continuum that answers the question:
“How much does this choice move me towards my goals?”
There are always options to dial up or dial down. Below are a few primary examples of how to use continuum thinking for deep health.
The alternative to thinking on a continuum is all-or-nothing thinking, or having an absolute mindset.
What are some signs that you may be in an absolute mindset, and could benefit from more continuum thinking?
An absolute mindset leads to feeling restricted.
Feeling restricted makes failure inevitable. The longer that you can endure being “good”, the more attractive the “bad” choices start to look.
An absolute mindset leads to checking out.
Making choices that are labeled “bad” leads to either feeling like a “bad” person, or tuning out to paying attention to those choices altogether.
An absolute mindset has familiar phrases.
An absolute mindset can often be easy to identify from a few more common phrases:
- Rigid definitions for “good” and “bad” choices, that consequently make you a “good” or “bad” person
- “Pausing” or “quitting” on a nutrition, movement, or recovery routine
- “Failing” or “crashing”
- “Falling off the wagon” or “having the wheels come off”
If you catch yourself thinking or talking that way, notice what’s happening in those moments.
In those moments, how could you think about the same situation slightly differently?
How could you shift your mindset to thinking on a continuum?
An absolute mindset is someone else’s rules.
If the answer seems to be absolutely right or wrong, you can ask yourself… to whom?
Individuals are unique and varied. The rules or guidelines that apply to one person’s definition of deep health won’t be the same for the next person.
For example, that’s true of something as simple as hand portions. We can make generalizations and give starting point guidelines as recommendations. Finding the exact right portioning is personal and subjective to the individual.
Thinking on a continuum leaves space for your personal judgement of the quality of your choices.
Your personal continuum of better and worse may not be the same as the next person’s.
What’s “better” to you is relative to your body, lifestyle, and goals.
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