When we think about our nutrition, we don't always consider the way in which our headspace can effect our success or failures.
In recent years, the concepts of fixed and growth mindsets have become popular in several industries for introducing a consciousness in the way we function.
So, do you have a fixed mindset, a growth mindset, or a mix of both? And what does it matter anyways?
A fixed mindset belongs to someone who believes that their qualities are carved in stone - they can't be changed. They have a certain personality, as certain skillset, etc. and they feel that they need to prove themselves over and over again.
Here's some of the questions you might ask yourself in a fixed mindset:
Will I fail or succeed?
Will I look smart or dumb?
Will I be accepted or rejected?
Will I feel like a winner or a loser?
In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail, or you're not the best at something, it's all been a waste. Sometimes these traits develop early in our life. Here's an example:
Let's say you give a child a puzzle and they solve it quickly. They're told that they're so smart for figuring it out! They receive praise and then they understand that they're smart. Rather than try harder puzzles, the child may continue to do that same puzzle or puzzles of similar difficulty, because if they are unable to do a harder one, they will be showing that they weren't as smart as originally perceived.
This mindset says that the more effort that is put into something, the less valued you are as a person. Effort is the opposite of talent from this perspective, and effort is not something that is rewarded.
So if you're worried about trying new things, whether it's talking to strangers at an event where you don't know anyone, attempting a new sport, giving a public speech, or avoiding confrontation in a relationship because it's uncomfortable - that's your fixed mindset talking.
On the other end of the spectrum is the growth mindset. This mindset is based on a concept that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. In other words, you can learn to do better at everything in your life. We all differ in lots of ways (talents, interests, beliefs) but we can all grow through application and experience.
The growth mindset allows people to value what they're doing regardless of the outcome. They learn from their failures to actively build upon them for next time. They aren't eternal optimists necessarily, but they understand that their true potential is unknowable without some effort.
The growth mindset creates a passion for learning. Someone in the fixed mindset might say "Why waste time proving over and over how great you are at something?" when a growth mindset might say "But how can I get better?"
Here's a great example of this from Carol Dweck:
Okay, so now you might have an idea of where you lie on the spectrum. Remember, you can be a little of both mindset types. You might be more of a fixed mindset when it comes to politics, but more of a growth concept when it comes to your relationships.
This relates to everything in our lives - relationships, business, school, parenting, and yes.. even our nutrition.
When it comes to how we eat, we're often learning a new way of doing so in everything related to it. It's possible you're learning a new healthy way of eating after having been taught one thing your entire life. It's also possible you're learning how to cook healthy. You might be learning to how food prep. How to eat the right things at the right time. The list is endless, right?
Whether you're just starting out learning more about proper nutrition or you're an elite athlete who is fine-tuning their nutrition regimen, you're constantly learning and adjusting. But what if you have a fixed mindset when it comes to the way you eat, your cooking routine, your method for prepping and storing food, always have a yogurt in the morning, etc?
The truth is, you probably struggle with your nutrition.
You feel like a failure when it doesn't go well. You feel lost and confused. You feel overwhelmed with the information.
So how we change our mindset?
First off, you need to believe that you can change. Remember that you are always learning and therefore having a mindset that allows you to fail, will ultimately allow you to grow and become better over time. Even if you set out to do something and fail, you will likely learn something in the process. If you choose to try again, great - now you have some beta information on yourself for completing that task. If you decide not to try again, it'll probably provide insight into you and something else you'll do in your lifetime.
Secondly, embrace your fixed mindset. We all have it. By recognizing its presence, we can acknowledge it and make a conscious effort to move away from it, rather than letting it wreak havoc on our life. Be aware of triggers that bring our your fixed mindset. Maybe it's when you consider taking on a new challenge, when you're confronted in your romantic relationship you shut down, or when you encounter someone who is better in your industry than you
Lastly, learn from it and make a plan. The fixed mindset's purpose to protect you and keep you safe, but it often develops some limiting ways of doing so. Now it's time to educate it and take it along with you for a ride. Show yourself that a fixed mindset can allow you to take on new challenges and stick to them, bounce back from failure, and support others to grow.
Here's a specific way to make changes in your nutrition. Find an example of something you need to do, something you need to learn about, or a problem you need to confront regarding your nutrition. Now make a concrete plan. When will you follow through with your plan? Where will you do it? How will you do it? Think about it in as much detail as possible. Visualizing your plan will lead to high levels of follow-through, which leads to high rates of success.
"Tomorrow, when I wake up I'm going to drink a full glass of water to kick start my hydration for the day."
"Sunday, I'm going to set aside 2 hours in the afternoon to go to the grocery store and cook chicken for the week and place it in containers for easy access."
Having a growth mindset is vital for creating success in your nutrition, no matter how complicated your journey currently is. If you've ever tried a nutrition plan or challenge, you know there can be a big learning curve. Practice makes your nutrition better, but it never has to be perfect. As you take the approach to learn over time, you'll become the best version of yourself through practice.