Eating with an 80/20 Mindset

Just because you pursue a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed your occasional indulgences. I know plenty of people who follow very strict diets (my mom and my father-in-law being the two prime examples), but even they allow themselves a treat every now and then. 

If you quit something cold turkey, but you lack the support system to keep you encouraged and motivated, then chances are it won’t take, and you’ll be back to your old eating habits before too long. That’s why I personally prefer the 80/20 method. This is pretty much what it sounds like: You eat healthy, whole foods 80 percent of the time, and the other 20 percent you can put towards more indulgent foods. So if you eat three meals a day, then that means you’re allowed 4 meals a week that aren’t monitored by diet restrictions, like restaurant meals.

Establishing healthy eating habits can have great benefits:

  • Weight loss
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower Cholesterol
  • More energy throughout the day

A “Diet” for the Commoner

The 80/20 rule is essentially a “starter diet”. It doesn’t require you to count calories, but also means that you’ll be making some healthy nutritional changes in your life, which will help you lose weight. Coupled with a well-rounded fitness regimen, like the workouts you’ll find on this site, 80/20 can have some serious results, both on your outward appearance and your day-to-day energy level. The best part about the way this diet works is that you can make the weekends your “cheat days”, and still go out and have a good time with your friends at your favorite restaurant.

My wife gets confused looks all the time when she tells people she’s watching what she eats. “But you’re so small!” is the common response. “Surely you don’t need to watch your weight!”. Her response will, without fail, always be something like “And how do you think I GOT this small? How do you think I STAY this small?” Funnily enough these same people will see her eating a slice of pizza or a hamburger a couple days later and say “I thought you were watching your diet?”. That’s 80/20 at work. You can keep your guilty pleasure foods, just as long as you limit how often you have them.

“You can never out-train a poor diet.”

Being Smart with 80/20

There is one caveat, though: Even on your cheat days, it’s still a good idea to watch your portion sizes. Just because you’re allowed some tasty treats doesn’t mean you can get away with stuffing your face with them. Like I said earlier, this isn’t so much a “diet” as it is a “lifestyle lift”. When done properly, 80/20 will help you lose weight, and feel healthier. But, as with all things fitness, it requires a certain level of commitment.

This way of eating is an excellent gateway to taking the next step: cutting out the harmful parts of your diet.

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