80:20 Rule: Create Sanity Amongst the Eating Sins

30 Oct

Please Note: This site has moved to it’s own home at: http://www.theheartyheart.com/

You can find this article in it’s new home here

Beginning Old Post: As we wrap up a weekend of health detours (thanks Halloween!), and retailers make the inevitable transition to Christmas decor (gasp, already!), we might pause to think: how do we create health promoting balance in amongst all the sweet distractions and celebrations life presents us with?

If you’re new to the concept of the 80:20 rule, allow me to make the introduction. The 80:20 principle consists of making a genuine, consistent effort to eat well 80% of the time, and therefore allow yourself the flexibility and peace of mind to indulge the other 20% of the time.

I’m of course not advocating the justification of junk food. What I am suggesting is we relax a bit, and recognize that sometimes it’s nice to allow ourselves a bit of guilty pleasure in moderation to help us make conscious, nourishing choices more often than not. Reducing or eliminating the depravation mindset is the key to staying on track with health promoting choices.

For cardiovascular health this is an extremely important principle. Often, when making adjustments towards a heart healthy diet we focus on what we can’t have: reducing sodium, cutting back on refined foods, reducing sweets etc. I suggest we alter our mindset to include the 80:20 rule in our quest to live heartily.

Our physical wellbeing, and in turn our very essence will reflect a shift towards sanity, balance, flexibility and forgiveness. All are essential properties of a hearty heart.

In practice the 80:20 rule looks like this:

1. Focusing 80% of your efforts on the health promoting choices that we know are both practically and intuitively best for a nourished body. I call this “On Target”.

2. 20% of the time we allow ourselves to indulge a little more than usual, or to say “yes” when we might otherwise not. This could be at a social gathering, celebrating a special occasion, happy hour or coffee break with colleagues-you are the referee and get to make the choices of when to flex and when to stay on target.

Assuming we, on average, consume 3 main meals a day, and 2 mini meals or snacks a day, and with 7 days in a week, you can either:

  • Eat “on target” 5.6 days a week, and flex your eating for 1.4 days a week. Or rounded off, 5.5 days “on target”, 1.5 days of flexibility (hello Friday night and Saturday!)
  • Or, you can allow yourself one mini meal or main meal of flexibility a day, and the remaining 4 meals and snacks are “on target”.

Of course, if you’re feeling amazing, and loving being on target, there’s nothing stopping you from staying on target for all your meals. Go you! Just be conscious of a time you might try to justify straying way off track because you’ve been so diligent…

All in all, not such an intimidating “rule” right?! I challenge you to try adopting it and see what the impact is on your waistline, conscience, and sense of well being!

Stay tuned for more nourishing ideas to come this month about foods to help keep you “on target”…

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One Response to “80:20 Rule: Create Sanity Amongst the Eating Sins”

  1. Charlotte bourne 31/10/2010 at 11:41 pm #

    Yay Emma! I love this rule and I think I pass it on to someone new everyday 🙂 Great job!!

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