Having a positive relationship with food is probably the most important factor involved in any diet. The 80/20 diet has become very popular because it promotes moderation, excludes restrictiveness, and is both doable and realistic long term. The 80/20 diet isn’t technically a diet at all, but more a long term sustainable lifestyle.
It’s a fairly straight forward and simple concept. You don’t have to deprive yourself of your favorite foods or starve yourself on limited calories. The point of this lifestyle is to teach you moderation and balance in your relationship with food. It simply boils down to eating super healthy 80% of the time and having wiggle room to enjoy your favorite foods or “cheat foods” 20% of the time.
There are very few people who can be 100% healthy all the time, but anyone can be 80% healthy, all the time. Trying to be perfect is the reason a lot of people fail and give up on trying to eat healthy. As we all know, an unhealthy lifestyle leads to nagging health problems like low energy, low libido, moodiness, weight gain, aches and pains and even serious diseases like cancer and autoimmune disease. Finding a doable healthy diet is key. Across the board, people are finding success using the 80/20 principle.
So here’s how it works: If you eat 21 meals per week (3 meals per day), 4 of those meals per week can be a cheat meal. If you eat 42 meals per week (6 small meals per day), 8 of those meals can be a cheat meal and so on. One of your cheats can be a dessert instead of a meal or a couple of alcoholic drinks instead of a meal. Cheat meals, desserts or drinks should be of normal portion size, not super sized or you’re defeating the purpose. It’s also not recommended to use your 20% all in one meal or even all in one day. It’s best to spread them out so you don’t completely derail yourself and then have to try and be 100% the rest of the week. You set yourself up for failure if you try that approach.
So if you intend to eat clean long term, you simply must enjoy special occasions and not feel bad for every little indulgence. Because the truth is, there are no mistakes where food is concerned. There are only decisions. The decision of what to put in your mouth. And if you decide to put something less “optimally healthy” in your mouth, you should enjoy it!. That, my friends, is a lifestyle instead of a diet. And that is the 80/20 rule.
It means you don’t have to obsess about every morsel of food you eat. It allows you to try new things and be adventurous. And most of all, it gives you freedom!