Why I’m a huge fan of the 80-20 rule when it comes to your health

The 80 20 rule with healthy foods and a piece of cake

I learnt about the 80-20 rule and decided to adopt it as soon as I started nutrition college!

Why? Because I didn't want to give up my 3 favourite things; coffee, chocolate and red wine! So when I read about this way of approaching health, I was thrilled that I could have my treats and still be healthy.

The 80-20 rule means that you try to eat nourishing nutritious foods 80% of the time, and the other 20% you can relax a little and not worry too much.

Many health and diet experts agree that this is a much more sustainable way of getting and staying healthy, whilst not ruining your life!

You can watch the video below or listen to the podcast (episode 85);

Why adopt the 80-20 rule?

1. It stops you turning into a health freak! Once you get started on the healthy lifestyle, you can easily get obsessive. They have a name for it now – orthorexia. It can lose you your family and friends and make you go crazy (seriously!). Obsessing about your health is just another addiction. And it's another source of STRESS and anxiety. We've got enough stress in our lives without making our health another one!

2. It allows you to eat out – let's face it, we all need a break from cooking!  Eating out is a real pleasure, whether it's at a restaurant or at someone's house. And you can’t always stick to your healthy eating programme. Sometimes you just have to relax a bit and be sociable (unless of course you have food allergies or sensitivities!).

3. It gives you some room to let go or celebrate. Sometimes you just need that piece of chocolate cake, or that freshly baked slice of bread or that super chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Or celebrate someone's birthday or special occasion. Don’t deprive yourself if you REALLY want something, just make it a 20% treat and enjoy every last mouthful. Don’t you dare feel guilty afterwards though – that will stress your body and undo all the pleasure you just got from the food.

4. It can actually give you more control – when you're constantly trying to ‘resist' certain foods, it often makes you want them more! By not demonising foods, it allows you to have more control.

5. You can stop aiming for perfection – nobody is perfect (even those Insta ‘gurus'!), and trying to achieve constant perfection is not only exhausting but super stressful (we don't want that!). And when you FAIL (which is pretty certain when we're trying to be perfect), you tend to fail spectacularly, beat yourself up and binge on all the wrong things.

6. It makes healthy living sustainable – I don’t believe healthy living is sustainable unless you have a break now and then. When you focus on balance and moderation instead of 100% perfection, your healthy lifestyle is going to be sustainable (and more fun!).

Following the 80-20 rule requires no calculation or preparation, it's simply about approaching your health and fitness with balance.

How to make it work for you

Daily 80-20:

One way to adopt your 80-20 rule, is to do it on a daily basis. Focus on healthy nourishing meals to keep your blood sugar stable and nutrients coming in. Then you can include a 20% indulgence, such as a piece of chocolate, a glass of wine or a nice frothy latte.

Remember: don't make it a mission to have your ‘treats' every day, just know that if you want something it's not off limits, as long as you're getting those main nutrients in.

Weekly 80-20:

Another way to look at it, is to be close to 100% healthy Monday to Friday then when the weekend comes, you can relax a bit and have some treats.

Remember; just because you have your 20% allowance doesn't mean you have to use it! It's just there if you need it.

I love my red wine at the weekends (and gin!). But I have alcohol-free days during the week as much as possible.

I try to stay gluten free because I know I get bloated when I eat it. But I won’t panic if I mistakenly have a bit of wheat or treat myself to the odd slice of chocolate cake.

You can also adopt this rule in other areas of your life where you need some balance, including work, exercise, and play!

Do contact us if you need help with your hormones or other health issues.