Eating is an essential part of life, which is why all of the diet rules and misconceptions that surround eating seem to follow you wherever you go.
You might believe that you are doing the right thing by not eating after 8 o’clock or eating an apple when what you really want is a brownie, but these thoughts and rules that you live by are actually preventing you from losing and maintaining a healthy body weight.
Though I don’t like to apply any “rules” to eating, the 80/20 rule is less of a “rule” and more of a general principle to guide your eating in a way that will help you to achieve permanent weight loss.
What is different about the 80/20 principle is that it is not a diet.
It doesn’t tell you what foods to eat and not to eat, what time of day you should or shouldn’t eat, or supply you with a “miracle” food or supplement to enhance weight loss. Instead, it is a way for you to visualize and put into action a lifestyle change that promotes balance and moderation.
It states that 80% of the time you should focus on making healthy, informed food choices and 20% of the time you can have the freedom to indulge in a few favorite treats that you wouldn’t necessarily deem as healthy.
Thus, 80% of the time focus on fitting breakfast into your daily routine, incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your meals, eat whole grains, choose lean sources of protein such as chicken, turkey and egg whites and incorporate healthy fats from fish, nuts and seeds.
The remaining time, eat what I like to call “play food” when you go out socially on the weekend for example and/or eat away from home.
Think of it like this: you eat 3 meals every day so over a 7 day week, that is 21 meals. With the 80/20 rule, seventeen of those meals are made up of healthy wholesome foods that nourish your body and provide you with vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
Four of those meals can include favorite treats you wouldn’t otherwise choose. I don’t suggest the entire meal consist of these “play foods”. Consider using the 20% as special treats or desserts.
The reality behind the 80/20 principle resulting in permanent weight loss is driven by the notion that diets don’t work. Food restriction will only lead to overeating and overindulging in foods you crave.
Using this principle to guide your food choices and eating patterns will take away the guilt that is associated with giving into food cravings.
You have the freedom to eat all foods that you love and fit them into your life in a way that does not impede your weight loss efforts.
Avoid viewing the 20% as a way to treat yourself for being “good” the rest of the week.
Rather, see it as a way to rediscover that eating is supposed to be pleasurable and to help you develop a healthy relationship with food!