Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Pursuit of Perfection

Pursuit of perfection…unless one is attempting to cut an expensive gemstone–I’ve come to see the pursuit of perfection as a waste of energy…and worse than that; often an endeavor that leads to a great deal of emotional pain. There is no such thing as a perfect person; not in the people we love or in ourselves!

Yet, so many of the people I coach are crippled by the pursuit of perfection; this imaginary black or white marker; a determiner of self-worth…applied to self and others.

Holding someone else up to some perfect ideal…or trying, personally, to live up to some self-imposed (or family imposed) impossible standard, feeling driven by perfectionistic thinking, often goes hand-in hand with emotional overeating.

(Excerpt from my Membership Circle Tool # 37 “Do You Feel You Have to Be Perfect?”)

“The pursuit of perfection tends to generate a great deal of anxiety in a person’s everyday life! Emotional eating is intricately linked to perfectionistic thinking. Food thoughts and food quiet the anxiety. Food is also used to manage any unresolved anger and/or disappointment the person may feel about having been a child who was never affirmed for her efforts and was never “good enough”. Additionally, when the person hunts for the ‘perfect’ solution to the eating disturbance, and fails to find it, she uses food to manage her disappointment and pain over this issue, as well.

Often, the person who believes he or she has to do things “perfectly” is aware of this way of thinking and knows the impact it has had on his or her life, but struggles to change it.

Sometimes a person thinks he or she must do everything perfectly, or the world will truly know just how imperfect and flawed they really are.

Trying to be “perfect” is the ultimate cover-up…and an impossible goal.

Perfectionists tend to function under the belief that there is a right and wrong answer to everything in the world – leaving only two possibilities — either a perfect solution or a failure. Since there is often no clear ‘perfect’ solution or response, in most life situations, many perfectionists avoid situations, circumstances, relationships where they will not be able to guarantee success or be affirmed for the effort they puts forth. They tend to not recognize the value of expending effort, even if there is not a ‘perfect’ resolution. They are often unable to own that they did the best they could, given the circumstances, and that their effort was admirable. Everything has to turn out perfectly.”

It’s a tough way to live! I know. I am a recovering perfectionist!


I’m Ellen Shuman; a proud recovering perfectionist! I work with other recovering perfectionists who also wish to overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I am the imperfect founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. Want to pursue imperfection? Get in touch, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.


  1. Thanks so much for finding and sharing the video about imperfection. It helped me get a better perspective on my day and what is important! Perfectionism is not – as you said it is so crippling!

  2. Ellen Shuman, Emotional Eating Recovery Coach; A Weigh Out says

    You’re very welcome, Becky! Perfectionism can be crippling!

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