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Sara Pindera
Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Nutraceuticals. A Canadian with a love of food, fitness and health.

The 80/20 Rule: Not A Diet, A Lifestyle

Can You Be Healthy Without Giving Up Junk Food?

Sugar and sodium are some of the most addictive substances, and something we all enjoy from time to time, but is it possible to lose weight and live a happier life without cutting your favourite treats out completely?
The simple answer is: yes, yes you can.
With this article The 80/20 Rule: Not A Diet, A Lifestyle, you will understand how you can change your lifestyle without dieting.

Woman eating a cake

The 80/20 Rule: A Lifestyle Change

There are a lot of people out there who want to eat healthier and change their lifestyle, but are hesitant to give up junk food. Eating healthy is very important, but restricting yourself and cutting out things you enjoy all at once can cause you to feel guilty and depressed when you can’t stick to it, and may cause you to eat even larger amounts of junk to cope in the future.

Having a positive relationship with food is important, and that is the goal of one of the most popular moderation ‘diets’ called The 80/20 Rule, which is not actually diet at all, but a lifestyle change.

What Is The 80/20 Rule?

Eat healthy 80% of the time, and treat yourself 20% of the time.

That’s it.

The reason it’s so popular is because it’s fairly simple, you don’t have to do any math or deprive yourself of certain foods. The point of this lifestyle is to teach you moderation and balance in your relationship with food using something akin to a series of cheat meals.

If you eat 21 meals per week (3 meals per day), 4 of those meals per week can be a cheat meal. If you eat 42 meals per week (6 meals per day), 8 of those meals can be a cheat meal and so on... And this is only a rough estimate! The longer you stick with it, the easier it will be to choose those healthy options and enjoy treats without overindulging.

There are very few people who can be 100% healthy all the time --But anyone can be 80% healthy, all the time. Trying to be perfect is the reason a lot of people fail at losing weight and reaching their goals.

This freedom lets you explore healthy options without giving up everything you enjoyed before, and treating yourself every once in a while to keep you in a good mentality and helps you stick with it in the long run. Eventually, you get used to falling back into healthy habits, and you may even begin to enjoy healthier treats mixed in!

There is lots of information on eating healthy, but the general rules are: Lots of fruits and vegetables, less simple processed sugars, more complex fibre-containing carbohydrates and leaner, less processed sources of protein like chicken and fish.

Woman craving a cake

People Who Can or Should Use This Method?

  • People looking for a long term change for the better. Most fad diets can give you some short term weight loss by cutting out the things you enjoy for a few days or weeks, but in the long run, you end up gaining the weight back as you return to your habits.

  • People who want to indulge from time to time. Want a piece of cake at a family birthday? Go for it! Want to go out for dinner with your good friend? Go ahead! As long as you’re not binging. The point is to teach you moderation and balance, not give you excuses.

  • People who are tracking calories or macros. This method can even work for those who need to meet specific calorie or macro requirements, whether you’re wanting to lose or gain weight. Usually treats can be incorporated in your calorie intake regardless, but the 80/20 rule can help get you in the habit of choosing healthier options more often.

Who Should Not Use This Method?

  • People who want a dramatic change. This is a lifestyle change. This is to help you live a healthier and happier life in the long run, not drop a bunch of pounds or inches in a short amount of time.

  • People who have trouble with food addictions. For some people, moderation is hard. They take any excuse to binge eat, and have trouble controlling themselves, likely for more than one reason. Some people need rules and guidelines to keep themselves happy and healthy.

  • Athletes or people who need to be on a stricter diet because of training. Those who are training for a big event that need to have a specific body or diet may not be able to incorporate 80/20 into their likely more strict regimen.

  • People who need to be on a stricter diet because of medical reasons. Certain diseases or conditions may not allow you to have the freedom this type of lifestyle diet offers. Always ask your doctor.

Woman craving a dessert

In Conclusion

We gave you The 80/20 Rule: Not A Diet, A Lifestyle.
Can you be happy and healthy without removing all processed and sugar? Absolutely.
Building a healthy lifestyle is something you gradually adapt to, and easing your transition by allowing yourself to eat things you enjoy is an easy way to make yourself stick with it in the long run.

Lets look at what we learned:

  • The 80/20 rule is 80% healthy and 20% treat, focused on teaching moderation.

  • Including healthy and treat options stops you from feeling guilty, and builds a more positive relationship with food.

  • Treating yourself is not an excuse to binge. It is an opportunity to discipline yourself and learn to balance what you eat.

  • If you have medical issues, are a training athlete or have difficulty when there are few rules to guide you, this diet may not be for you.

  • This is a long term, lifestyle change, not short or dramatic.

Be happy and healthy, live life the way you want to live it!

avatar
Sara Pindera
Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Nutraceuticals. A Canadian with a love of food, fitness and health.