Eating the 80/20 Way
Cast your mind over the last ten years and ask yourself how many times you swore this was it - your final attempt at dieting, getting on track, giving up vices, and so on. If you failed each time, ask yourself why. The answer is likely that you were seeking perfection. No one is perfect, and striving for perfection will lead to failure – every time.
In order to be successful, it’s not the plan that works so much as the commitment to the plan. So let’s work on a plan that leads to a forever commitment vs. a cycle of seeking perfection and resulting in perceived failure.
Coming oh-so-close to perfection is definitely not outright failure. So consider eating the 80/20 way, and free yourself from the belief that your only options are perfection or failure.
The 80/20 method is simple. Essentially, 80% of the time you are making healthy food choices that feed your PHYSICAL body. And 20% of the time you are making any choice you want that feeds your SOCIAL, SPIRITUAL and EMOTIONAL body.
It is absolutely ridiculous to think that when you eat a salad your body loses weight, but when you eat a cookie, it goes straight to your thighs. Sorry folks, your body just isn’t that refined. It can easily work through 20% of your diet coming from less than perfectly healthy foods.
What this means for you:
If you eat 4 times a day, 7 days a week, that’s 28 meals. Accordingly, approximately 5 meals a week can consist of whatever you choose.
Another way of looking at it: 6 days a week you eat only healthy foods, and on the 7th day you eat whatever you want.
If you’re a person who needs visual cues, think of it this way: ensure that 80% of your plate is healthy food and 20% of it is whatever you want.
If you’re a long-term planner, here’s yet another way to consider it: there are 365 days each year. That’s 73 days of eating whatever you want!
The key to success here is to eat these meals GUILT FREE. Feeling guilt after eating causes more damage to your body than the less-than-perfectly-healthy food ever could.
Now that we’ve given ourselves permission to occasionally enjoy less-than-perfect foods, let’s examine the most common reasons why we eat them at all:
Convenience: fast food allows us to cram more and more into our already crowded schedules. We can eat on the run and feel like we’re maintaining productivity.
Boredom: eating is a great (and mindless!) way to pass the time. Especially when there’s a TV involved.
Habit: we eat out of habit at certain times and in certain places. For example, wouldn’t it feel weird to go to the movies and NOT eat popcorn?
Comfort: food can provide tremendous emotional comfort when we are sad or lonely.
There is absolutely room in a healthy diet for convenience, boredom, habit and comfort! Simply be aware of what you are eating, and strive to make healthy choices 80% of the time.
Choose what you can sustain - realistically - when life happens. Perfection sucks.