There’s a ton of advice out there regarding healthy eating. The sheer number of diet plans can make your head spin, and followers of those diets – well, some of them are zealots. Sorry, but the ones I speak of are rabid, foaming at the mouth if you even consider a dissenting argument. That doesn’t mean all followers of different diets are crazed, some offer up great advice and are wonderful educators. One that has popped up on my radar is the 80/20 diet. Although it’s a diet, I refer to it more as a eating approach, and as a beginner 80/20 eating well, what are the pros and cons of this approach?
I have no skin in any game. I’ve tried every freaking diet out there almost. As I repeat over and over, find what works for you. I support you becoming healthier, gaining confidence, and developing healthy habits that you can slide back into when life gets chaotic.
What is 80/20
With all the diets, there is often a common theme – the 80/20 rule. What is it? It’s eating healthy 80% of the time and enjoying yourself 20% of the time. What is ‘healthy’? Well, the basic thought process is eating clean – eating unprocessed foods, fruits, vegetables, and whole foods. The other 20% is less restrictive.
It doesn’t require perfection.
It promotes balanced eating
It’s a life long way of eating
Unless you’re tracking macros, do you really know where the 80/20 breakdown lays? Are you already dipping into that free 20% on a daily basis without even knowing it?
It isn’t a ‘quick fix’ weight loss tactic
The 20% still requires moderation – it’s not eating an entire bag of cookies. It’s having a serving size of cookies or a cupcake (not three).
It really boils down to moderation – IF you know you’re eating perfect every day, than one meal a week, you can relax a bit. If you take a day by day approach, than your time to ease up will not be a meal, but a couple bites of something that’s outside of healthy eating.
Eliminate All or Nothing Thinking
There are so many people I know that are on a ‘diet’ and once they slip up, that’s it. Game over. I’ve been guilty of that for years. I’ll meticulously prepare for the upcoming Monday, day 1 of the latest diet idea, head into it in high gear. I go strong for 3 days, maybe even a week, and then something happens (party, stress, exhaustion, sick kids…etc) OR the scale goes up instead of down and I do not stick to the plan. Welp, that was a fail, why keep trying? It’s happened more times than I care to count.
Utilizing the 80/20 approach, there is flexibility and nothing is off the table unless there’s a medical reason why you can’t eat something.
Full Life Approach
The beauty of the 80/20 approach is the ability to apply it to all facets of life. You can do this with your budget, with your fitness goals, with your cleaning, etc.
Since I work from home, and most of my time is spent online, I try (not always with success) to ignore social media and Amazon except during pre-determined, very small, scheduled breaks throughout my day.
Now that I have a Fitbit Charge 2 Heart Rate + Fitness Wristband, Black, Large (US Version), my absolute minimum activity is 8000 steps five days a week. Most of the time I do exceed this, but if there are two days a week I don’t, that’s okay. Knowing that I am eating 80/20, I can be okay not reaching my minimum steps seven days a week. Five is good enough.
This is still another area of improvement for me, but like anything else, there’s success and setbacks. We do try to allow ourselves small freebies each month, but some months we’re better at sticking to goals, and other months, it’s not so pretty.
The 80/20 approach is simplistic in its design and can be very useful when trying to create healthier eating habits. But, for all its simplicity, it can also derail you if you’re not being 100% honest about what and how much you are eating, but for a little more flexibility, it’s an approach worth exploring.