Have You Heard of the 80-20 Rule?

Most likely you have as it’s been a fairly popular subject lately.  So, what does living 80/20 mean anyway? 
Actually, it’s a quite simple concept and when you discover how to live this way, you’ll find that it takes the fuss and frustration out of all the confusing food advice we seems to be bombarded with regularly in the media, Facebook, magazines, and especially food advertising!
This is not to say that there isn’t some valuable information out there as there are lots of things to consider about living a healthy lifestyle…Living 80/20 is more than food as this principle can be applied to other areas of your life: balancing work with fun, taking care of others, etc. for example. In general, it’s a great principle to live by.
Let’s discuss briefly how the 80/20 rule affects your health in the most positive of ways.
For starters, most diet plans and “shake-based” nutrition plans (especially the MLMs), want you to stop eating certain foods, eat at specific times, give up meals in lieu of a shake or drink that is  mainly comprised of a long list of extracts or isolates. Diets can include practices and ways of eating that are not practical or just downright difficult to implement, much less maintain.  I get that sometimes there is a health reason or a short-term goal that calls for a special diet, just as a gut-health diet or a food based detox that feels stringent, eliminates a few or a lot of foods temporarily because there is healing that’s called for – that’s different!
If you’ve been following a diet (other than a proven diet that heals or addresses a specific health need) ask yourself if you’re really happy and if you want to stay on it for the rest of your life? 
The answer for most people is no!
After all, you can’t stay on fad diets or live happily on meal replacements forever. Plans like these set you up for failure from the beginning as they aren’t sustainable or pleasurable over time. 
I have a better way!
Adopting an 80/20 way of thinking with food means that the majority of the food you eat (80%) are whole, healthy foods in their most natural state. Healthy food doesn’t mean bland or boring. It means including  a broad spectrum of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and beans, and nuts and seeds, as much organic as possible. And, if you eat animal protein, you should choose fresh wild caught fish, purchase range free, organic-fed, chicken that is free of hormones, and consider only grass fed beef. For the other 20% of food and beverage choices, you can happily indulge food desires without guilt or regret. 

How does 80-20 work?  

Let’s look at an example: All during the week, you’ve really focused on healthy meals, perhaps having oatmeal topped with berries or a homemade smoothie that includes spinach, fruit, non-dairy milk, and a good protein powder. You’ve had salads with chicken or veggie wraps for lunch. And for dinner you’ve grilled salmon or broiled chicken and served with seasoned steamed veggies and maybe brown rice or sweet potato. Then during the weekend, you choose to indulge on your date night or an evening with friends at your favorite Italian restaurant or steak house and include wine and tiramisu or pie for dessert!  That a 80-20 focus on eating healthy food … it’s about balancing your life healthfully, including enjoyment, and not feeling guilty about the little indulgences. 

The secret is mindful living for mindful eating the 80-20 way. 

Choosing your foods wisely and allowing your indulgences even more wisely. 

5 More Tips to Mindful Eating the 80-20 Way:

  1. Eat mindfully – put away the distractions of reading, watching TV, catching up on Facebook or emails while eating so you can focus on the pleasure of the food set before you.
  2. Help yourself out by drinking a glass of water about 10 minutes before sitting down to your meal or having that cocktail and appetizer. This also helps you include your daily water intake.  Drink another glass of water 30 minutes after your meal.  
  3. Eat until you’re just 80% full. By eating slowly, taking note of the flavors and textures of your food, and setting your fork down after every few bites, you’ll become conscious of that “sweet spot” where you feel mostly full but recognize that continuing to eat is likely to result in discomfort or indigestion. Besides, if you’re out for a special meal, you really may want to save room for dessert.  Instead of having the “finish your plate” mentality, divide your meal in the beginning into half and take the second half home!
  4. Share dessert and reserve desserts for only 20% of your meals at the most! Choose the dessert you really want – but split it with someone. The first couple of bites satisfy the taste and the craving for sweetness – the rest becomes more added sugar and calories. I’ve also found that the less sugar I include in my diet, the less I tolerate the really sugar laden desserts and treats. I’ve become more discerning and choose quality, too!
  5. If you choose alcoholic libations, remember that alcohol has calories and sugar too – so choose wisely. Wine, especially red wine, is one of the smartest choices.  To maximize your 80-20 rule, avoid drinking alcohol during the week – save it for your weekend indulgence and then enjoy that glass of wine or a light cocktail with dinner. The 20% indulgence can make you feel like a million bucks! And be sure to chase your alcohol with more water!

Celebrating with Food the 80-20 Way

Recently, I planned a vegetarian menu for a birthday brunch buffet…and you need to know that meat was not missed! Responses from the photos I shared online included my being asked if I cater.

Remember, presentation adds a lot to your guests experience.  

My brunch 20% splurge included homemade lavender lemonade (can’t make lemonade without sugar – I use organic), St. Germaine Lavender Lemonade Cocktails, and my famous homemade Lemon Meringue Pie (worth the extra calories and sugar). 
The 80% healthy food on my brunch menu included chocolate chip muffins made with my grandson in mind – and they’re gluten free.  Salads included  Fresh Fruit Medley with Lemon-Honey Poppy Seed Dressing, Moroccan Spiced Lentil Salad with Spanish Saffron Deviled Eggs (no yucky mayo in my deviled eggs), Orange-Raspberry Arugula Salad, and Cucumbers in Dilly Yogurt.
If you’d like the recipe for my Lemon Meringue Pie, you’ll find it HERE
And, if you’d like a recipe for any of the other dishes from my menu, let a comment below!

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