I have often said that I am all about a healthy lifestyle rather than a particular diet. Too often people who have success at losing weight while on a particular diet, especially one that is strict or eliminates food groups, find themselves back where they started when the diet is over and they return to their old habits. Since they did not make changes to create a new healthy lifestyle, it is difficult to maintain the weightloss . Iv’e written about my own lifestyle of following an 80/20 way of eating in My Food Philosophy. I’ve also shared that I think our health is much for than our diet in It’s Not JUST the Exercise OR the Nutrition.
But, what does this 80/20 Rule really mean?
It means I can be free from counting every calorie or macro that enters my body. It means that I can eat out during the week rather than cooking every single meal at home. We all know when we do cook our own meals we know just what we are eating, the type of oils, spices and can easily control the portions. While I do typically cook at home the majority of the time, I know I can eat out and not feel guilty. Years ago, I began my own personal “no cooking on Friday” rule. By Friday evening I was just done and could not even imagine coming up with a dinner plan. I pretty much keep to that routine today and enjoy knowing that we can find something fun or different on Friday night.
I will admit that even when eating out, I typically eat the same types of foods I would eat at home – salads, fish, vegetables. Other times I will have more of a treat and enjoy pizza, maybe some bread or something that I would not normally eat at home. As long as I do not do this too often, then I do it with no guilt at all. It’s just good food and a good time.
The 80/20 way of eating means you can go out with friends, have wedding cake, wine with your girlfriends, a cupcake with your child, whatever indulgence that is part of the celebration of life. You aren’t “ruining your diet.” As long as those indulgences are only 20 percent of your intake and the remaining 80 percent are good, healthy choices, you are fine.
I don’t know how any human can sustain a strict diet for very long. Restrictive eating and denying yourself from favorite foods or beverages is just no fun. We all know what happens to the majority of us after being deprived for too long – we buckle. We go off that diet and eat those favorite foods – and most likely far too much of them after being deprived.
The 80/20 Principle means you are creating a healthy lifestyle and not a non-sustainable diet. You will begin eating intuitively, meaning you will listen to your body. Those healthy choices will begin to be your first choices, not because they are healthy, but because they sound good to you! Think kale salad over the side of fries, or the protein smoothie over the giant blueberry muffin. This may sound a little foreign, but once your body gets used to lean proteins, fresh vegetables, good fruits, less breads, grains and pasta, and cutting processed foods, sodas and sugar, your body will feel so energized.
The 80/20 Rule means you don’t have to be perfect all the time. How freeing is that? I know I am never perfect so maybe that’s why this appeals to me. I can do a great job at NOT being perfect! And this is a good thing. Allowing this bit of give in your diet stops you from feeling deprived and bitter. If you aren’t deprived or bitter, you are less likely to binge or eat the entire bag of chips in one sitting.
The 80/20 Rule means you can have a balanced way of eating and enjoy living. It means you can eat healthy 80 percent of the time, but have a little wiggle room when you need it to keep yourself balanced and sane. (Remember, though, you don’t always need to use the 20 percent if you don’t want or need that wiggle room. You don’t need to eat the chips or cake or wine just to fill in the 20 percent! Use it when you need it!)
Sometimes, making the right choices and eating healthy can also be a mind game. For me, knowing that I am going out on the weekend, or have some event on the calendar, keeps me on track to make good choices before that time comes. Then, I can try the chips with guacamole at the Mexican place, taste the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving or say yes to something I might have previously felt guilty about. It’s just that little trick to keep me sane and have a healthy mindset on nutrition.
The 80/20 rule means no obsessing over calories or labeling some foods “bad” or being boring when celebrating with friends and family. It means being healthy while not being perfect all the time.
ENJOY YOUR DAY!