My partner works in IT and he was telling me the other day about a programming concept called the happy path,
While the happy path might sound like a joyful and positive thing, in programming it's not.
The happy path is one followed by the constant optimist. If you program the happy path it means your software works beautifully, but only when everything is going well.
The happy path has no back-ups, fail-safes or contingencies, because nothing is going to go wrong. The happy Path assumes the data is correct, the system is bug free, the deadlines are achievable and the users are all well behaved.
Maybe it's programming for the delusional optimist?
All of which means, the moment something happens that's not in the plan, the whole system falls over. As this writers says about following the happy path: “the result is often brittle code that is unfit for purpose and difficult, if not impossible, to maintain and enhance.”
Now this strikes me as exactly many people's approach to the way they eat.
Being eternal optimists they come up with an overly ambitious plan and, rather than learning from previous mistakes, think 'this time it will be different'. This time I will cook every night, I'll eat clean, I'll start each day with a green juice, I'll stop eating chocolate, I'll cut out alcohol and bread. I might even go vegan.
The happy path.
While everything is going well - work is under control, the house is full of good food, the kids cooperate, you're getting a good night's sleep - the happy eating path is easy to follow.
But then something goes awry and you have no back-up plan or contingencies.
You have a bad week at work; your partner forgets to do the grocery shopping; the kids refuse to eat quinoa and kale; your period hts and you just want red wine and chocolate. Having made only one plan, the perfect happy path plan, you have no way of dealing with these eventualities and your whole way of eating falls in a crumbling heap.
As with software design, happy path eating has no way of dealing with errors, exceptional circumstances, failures and compromises.
Instead you can develop a way of eating and a mindset that isn't brittle, but is instead flexible and resilient.
A headspace that lets you have a bad day and a night off, without thinking you've blown it.
A freezer stocked with back-up meals, just in case your cooking plans fall through.
The freedom to fail, give in to chocolate occasionally and not give up.
The mindset that means it's okay to have beans on toast for dinner sometimes.
A willingness to surrender control and, no matter the initial mess and hassle, teach your kids to cook, so that in the long-term you get at least one night off from meal making.
It's time to realise “trips off the happy path aren’t exceptions, the happy path is the exception.”