What is the 80/20 rule?
The 80/20 philosophy is something I follow and encourage all my clients to adopt. I prefer philosophy to rule. We’re all humans and some weeks may be a bit more 70/30, and others you may be super motivated and go a bit 90/10.
Basically the goal is to fill 80% of your week’s meals, snacks and drinking with all the stuff that’s good for you. That means colourful fruits and vegetables, lean protein, low glycaemic index carbs, good fats, and lots of water. Cook each meal fresh, or do a big meal prep batch and you have healthy lunches and dinners sorted. Quick protein for breakfast like scrambled eggs or Greek yogurt, or low GI oatmeal with nuts. This will keep you satiated til lunchtime and reduce snacking temptations.
For some guilt-free snacking, keep your work drawer or pantry stocked with healthy snacks like nuts, protein bites, veggie sticks and dip. If you do have some chips or biscuit cravings, put them on a plate or bowl so you can portion control rather than inhale the whole bag or row.
Keep in mind that #cleaneating doesn’t mean grilled chicken and steamed veggies for every meal. Unless you’re preparing for a comp, no one needs to eat like that. Your relationship with food should be one of enjoyment and nourishment. Use plenty of herbs and spices, which have health benefits in their own right, to add complexity and flavour to each meal.
Which brings me to the 20% that you’re all waiting for. This is the beers or wines with your mates after a crazy week, or the slice of chocolate cake at your kid’s birthday, or the extra couple of snags at the picnic. If you’re on a “diet” that restricts all these good things, what might be a reaction if the diet is broken? Studies have found that clients can react by throwing the day’s or week’s diet out the window and binging all that stuff they have cut out of their consumption. This is why even fitness competitors and athletes under strict training conditions will partake in a weekly cheat meal or day.
I attended an AFL Grand Final BBQ on Saturday, and quite happily chowed down on chips, cheese, party pies and sausage rolls, snags and rissoles, and a couple of cokes. I knew that my week had been pretty good already so no guilt or shame to be had!!
For the everyday person, the 80/20 philosophy is a sustainable and realistic way to build a healthy relationship with food. I try to make clear to my clients that I can assist them for the 2 or 3 sessions a week I see them. For the rest of the time they need to keep themselves accountable to their goals. Get educated on what healthy foods are, as opposed to “seen to be healthy”, learn a few simple cooking techniques and ideas. Then you will be able to treat yourself without guilt or consequence due to all the hard work you’ve put in with your exercise and in the kitchen.
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