I have been incredibly blessed by a simple change — I changed my somewhat-typical diet to a healthier, more nourishing meal plan. I love how it helps me get energy, feel nourished, and helps me avoid digestive problems.

I think there is a lot of research (let alone the countless anecdotal stories out there) that back up the claim that what we eat makes a difference. Because I really believe that, I keep forging ahead in a quest to keep my diet nourishing — and I'm also glad to share what I am learning with others.

But sometimes that ideal of a perfectly nourishing diet meets reality, and ideals can come tumbling down.

Here are a few common realities that can disrupt our plans:

  • Limited budget
  • Limited time
  • Limited energy
  • Limited resources
  • Illnesses or deaths in the family
  • Morning sickness
  • Work crisis
  • Loss of job
  • And many more
While I love to talk about how to make a healthy diet a practical reality for people, I am sure that many of you have also gone through seasons where you were just trying to survive — and a diet that helped you thrive was simply not possible. I know. I’ve been there.

For example, four years ago I had terrible morning sickness and that greatly affected not only what I could eat, but also how much cooking I could do for my family. We simply did what we could. My husband taught himself how to make some of my quick recipes, I ate a lot of organic cheese and whatever else I could tolerate, and we survived.

When we had the death of a close family member in our family, spending a lot of time in the kitchen simply wasn’t a priority. We relied on simple food at home, and also learned where in our city we could find frugal and healthy food when we needed to get a meal out.

Our diet has gone through stages of being almost religiously clean, to a mix-up of healthier prepared food, restaurant-fare and only the simplest food at home.

If you are in that “reality smashing ideals” stage right now, I want you to know that I’ve been there and it’s okay to be there. Here are two thoughts I tell myself during that stage.

This is a season and it doesn’t have to last forever. Morning sickness felt like it was 10 years long, but it did pass, and I did fall in love with cooking nourishing food again. Many of our trials and realities will change in time. Look for that light at the end of the tunnel.

I can only do my best. Yes, in an ideal world, I would always be perfect in every way, including how I feed my family. In fact, in an ideal world, I would always have enough money to buy the best of the best, there wouldn’t be toxins around us, and my energy would soar and my time would always be well-managed. Since I don’t live in an ideal or perfect world, I find peace in knowing that I have limits, and I simply need to do the best that I can within those limits.

Yes, working towards an ideal diet is … ideal. But give yourself a lot of grace on the road to your ideal, and give yourself flexibility during times of stress as needed. It will go a long way towards a sustainable lifestyle. 

Related on MNN:

When reality smashes your ideals on the road to a healthier diet
We all have ideals, but what happens when reality gets in the way of fulfilling them?