You’re only human.

All too often, we approach healthy eating with good intentions accompanied by a set of unrealistic rules and expectations. If you’ve been down this road before, you know that the desire to “eat perfectly” and an “all or nothing” approach gets you nowhere. The moment we stray from the meal plan or break one of our many food rules, we give up—and feelings of guilt, disappointment and self-criticism seep in. Well, now is the time to change that.

Break the cycle and take a fresh approach to eating well in 2017 with these simple mindset tweaks.

Give up those “perfect eating” aspirations

There are many things in life we can’t control, but eating is one of those things many of us, especially perfection seekers, feel we can. If you’ve ever dieted, you’ve aspired to “eat perfectly” for some period of time. Of course, the definition of perfection changes with every diet, but sooner or later, they all result in the same ending: disappointment, criticism and feelings of failure. Let go of the desire to eat perfectly, and strive for balance instead. Fill up on a variety of nutritious foods, particularly those containing satiety-inducing fiber, protein and quality fats—but also allow yourself to truly and intentionally enjoy foods that may give you more pleasure than nutritional benefit on occasion.

Let go of the labels

Imagine a world where “good,” “bad,” “healthy” and “unhealthy,” as they pertain to food, didn’t exist. A world where food was just food. You’d no longer fear or crave “bad” or “unhealthy” foods, and you’d no longer feel obligated to eat only “good” or “healthy” foods. Sounds lovely—and liberating—doesn’t it? Well, with a little mindset management, this label-free world can exist. Practice looking at food through a neutral lens. Acknowledge how it serves you, not just nutritionally but emotionally as well. You may find that by doing this, those foods you once felt obligated to eat become more enjoyable, and those you once feared or craved become less scary or desirable.

Eat to honor your body

All too often our motivations to eat better stem from a desire to change a physical aspect of our body. Eat nutritious foods because your body deserves it—so you can perform and feel your best each day. Oftentimes envisioning food as fuel, or even as medicine, can be powerful in reshaping your relationship to it.

Think addition, not subtraction

When it comes to eating well, experience has proven it’s easier to add than subtract foods. Subtracting certain foods gives you something to miss, something to crave, something to binge on and something to feel negatively about—not if but when it reappears on your plate. By adding more nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, quality fats, and proteins to your plate, you’ll feel more satisfied and naturally eat less of the foods you wanted to subtract without missing them nearly as much.

Photo credit: iStock, FangXiaNuo.