Many health seekers tend to think of food in absolute, black and white terms: This food is good, that one is bad. While striving for perfection can be a virtue, this all-or-nothing mentality creates a harmful relationship with food and can actually be counterproductive.
This black and white thinking includes the notion of "being bad", cheat meals, "bad" foods that are off-limits, and often arbitrary, baseless rules (such as no eating carbs after 8pm) designed to help people adhere to weight loss efforts, at least initially.
Yet this study out of the Journal of Health Psychology points out clearly:
Results showed that eating-specific dichotomous thinking (dichotomous beliefs about food and eating) mediates the association between restraint eating and weight regain. We conclude that holding dichotomous beliefs about food and eating may be linked to a rigid dietary restraint, which in turn impedes people's ability to maintain a healthy weight.
Basically, this can be interpreted to mean that you can strive to be perfect with your diet, but know that it is not possible to attain perfection. And that's OK.
Remember that food is meant to be nourishment for life and for many the soul, not to be seen as the enemy. Avoid dichotomous beliefs about food -- no food is good nor bad -- and thrive.
How does thinking in black and white terms relate to eating behaviour and weight regain? [Journal of Health Psychology]