When it comes to diet and nutrition, don’t be a Sith

In the Star Wars Universe (I realize I’m about to lose most of you, but please bear with me for a moment), the Sith are a group of folks known for their prowess with dark magic, evil ways and a philosophy of staunch ‘absolutes’. 

The famed philosopher and Jedi Master Obi-wan ‘Ben’ Kenobi states ‘only a Sith deals in absolutes’ to explain that when it comes to matters of choice, the Sith aren’t big fans of the color gray (or grey), or any shade therein other than black.  

[As a brief aside, Yoda, one of the good guys, is perhaps most known for his quote ‘Do or do not – there is not try.’  This seems to be a ‘bit’ of an absolute position as well.  But I digress and will leave this for another day.]

The Sith are, well, not so nice…

The Sith, for those of you who don’t know, are (to say the least) self-absorbed jerks with an unyielding ‘our way or the highway’ mentality about how the galaxy should be managed. 

The Sith don’t call their moms on their birthdays.  They stick their lightsabers out to trip the blind.

They mistreat puppies and kittens.  They unceremoniously flush their dead goldfish without so much as a word in kind remembrance.  They give out fruitcake during the holidays. 

Put simply (and as much as I hate to stereotype any group of people), the Sith are a bunch of a$$holes.

When it comes to making changes to one’s diet, I believe that too many people make Sith-like ‘absolute’ and dramatic decisions to change rather than making small, gradual ones. 

How many times have you heard someone say (like yourself, perhaps), “Tomorrow I’m going all-in on keto/paleo/vegetarian/vegan/potato-free/carb-free/fat-free/sugar-free/cabbage soup only/Dr. Wiseass from TV’s new program/etc., only to then be downing brews, fries and burgers with that very same individual a few days (or hours) later.

Understand that I’m not arguing against any of the specific diets or methods mentioned above.  Rather, what I believe is that many people (with the best of intentions) too often make changes to their diet that are so dramatic and so extreme so quickly that they inevitably fail to stick with their new ‘program’ for more than a few days (if that). 

Start small to achieve ‘small wins’ to gain consistency and build momentum

Perhaps this doesn’t apply to you and you’ve managed to stick with your new diet overhaul for years now.  Well, congratulations – you are part of a very, very, very, very, very small group of people on the planet that can do so.  

For the rest of us, I argue that it’s best to start small and build from there.  I’ve written and spoken often before about the power of small wins as a means for gaining consistency and building momentum.  Why?  Because I struggled with maintaining dramatic changes to my own diet (and life), but then was able to make significant and lasting improvements by making small and gradual changes that resulted in small wins that in turn helped me to gain consistency and build momentum.  

Does that mean it will necessarily work for you?  Nope, I can’t promise that.  But here’s the thing – if you’ve struggled with maintaining changes to your diet (and lifestyle for that matter) that you know would be good for your health, why not give this method a try?  The ‘cost’ here is essentially zero.

Here are just a few examples of changes that I’ve made that have resulted in disproportionately bigger results in my own diet:

  • Eat at least 2 green vegetables once per day – You can obviously vary this to include other colors, more greens, etc., but I’ll willing to bet that for many of you this will cause you to reexamine almost every meal each day (it certainly has for me).

  • For the next month, replace any type of midday sandwich with a salad – I was always a big sandwich guy, from ham-and-cheese to the double Angus burger.  These normally were accompanied by some form of starch as well.  Once I made this change for a month, it just kind of ‘stuck’ and now I don’t really even think about it.

  • No caffeine after 11am – This not only helped me get better sleep, but it’s also automatically eliminated my lunchtime and afternoon soda fix.

  • At least one vegetarian (and, the second time around, vegan) meal per day for the next month – I figured this would be easy, but it honestly wasn’t.  My goal is to eventually be ‘mostly vegan’, and while I’m not there yet I do now automatically use this lens to examine almost every meal that I have now.

  • No processed foods containing sugar – Probably no need for an explanation here, but this had an unexpected benefit of leading me to eliminate ‘energy bars’ from my diet as I discovered that they’re just cleverly disguised candy bars.

These examples aren’t meant to be comprehensive and you may not personally like any of them.  The main point here is that each of these has had a disproportionately greater impact on my diet than the explicit boundaries of each change would’ve suggested. 

I firmly believe that for most people starting small and gradually and building from the success of small wins is the key to making lasting and meaningful improvements to their diets – and to their lives.

Conclusion

Given their ‘absolutes’ policy, I’m willing to bet that the Sith struggle mightily with diet and nutrition.  After all, they don’t appear to be all that healthy or happy.  Darth Sidious seems to have aged much too rapidly over the course of just a few films.  Darth Vader can’t breathe without some form of oxygen mask.  Darth Maul clearly has issues with his complexion.  Poor nutrition could also explain their foul tempers and general feistiness.  

So, by all means please do make changes that will improve your diet and improve your health.  Just be careful of making decisions that are too rigid or too dramatic too soon such that you abandon them in a very short time.  If you’ve struggled with maintaining the diet that you believe to be most beneficial to your health, abandon the ‘I’ll start next week with a major change’ approach and give the small, gradual change method a try.  In short, don’t be a Sith!

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