No matter how committed you are to eating only healthy meals, you may still have temptations that you can’t resist. If you find yourself drawn back to your favorite guilty pleasure foods and you find it impossible to resist certain guilty pleasures, the 80/20 rule might be what you need to achieve your healthiest self and remain committed to an overall healthy diet.
What is the 80/20 rule?
Unlike other “diets” or trends, the 80/20 rule is simple to understand and utilize in your day to day life. Eighty percent of the time, you commit to healthy meals and snacks and twenty percent of the time, you allow an indulgence for a cheat meal. The theory behind the 80/20 rule is that it can become a sustainable, lifelong healthy eating plan that you can really stick to, unlike overly restrictive diets that preach no junk food at any time. The 80/20 rule might work well if you find yourself drawn into temptations during social events, holidays, or other special occasions.
If you already track your meals, you can easily determine how many cheat meals the 80/20 allows by simply counting up how many meals and snacks you eat each day.
Why it might work for you.
If you find yourself feeling guilty or judgmental about indulging in a piece of birthday cake at a friend’s birthday or having a slice of pizza with coworkers at work, the 80/20 rule can help you alleviate the guilt. Beating ourselves up about food choices or viewing foods as only good or bad is a recipe for disaster. When we allow for balance and moderation, ensuring that a cheat meal remains just one meal instead of a day or week of unhealthy habits, we create a lifestyle, rather than a fad diet.
Just knowing that your diet allows for a small amount of leeway, may make it easier for you to stick to a healthy eating plan the majority of the time. A salad for lunch four days each week, may seem far more doable when you know that one day a week, you can enjoy the meal of your choice. Realizing that you only have a 20% leeway may also make you better able to save less-healthy treats for those foods you truly love, and not just any junk that is convenient.
If you’re using the 80/20 rule and hoping to lose or maintain your weight, though, you have to be prepared to be accountable for your portion size. If you plan to use your 20% for a pizza over the weekend, plan ahead to determine how many pieces of pizza you will eat, or plan to share with family or friends to limit the risk that you may overindulge during your limited indulgence.
Tracking meals and calories throughout the day and week can also help keep you accountable even during those limited indulgences. It’s easy to over-indulge in a favorite food, letting a cheat meal undo all the progress you’ve made throughout the week. Planning ahead and tracking your calories, though, can help you get the most enjoyment out of your favorite food without derailing your hard work throughout the rest of the week.