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The 80/20 RULE

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

Eat healthy and have your cake too.


The idea is simple: Eat healthy meals 80% of the time, and have more freedom with the other 20%.

It offers less stress about occasional indulgences derailing your diet... any sane eating plan allows for you to live life when it happens! Following an 80/20 diet can help you maintain a balanced mindset about food. If 80% of your food plan comes from nutritious whole foods, there's room for the other 20% to come from fun flex foods without compromising health.


We’re all different so make it personal, how it’s done will affect everyone differently. Some people enjoy a little freedom at the end of the week, while others would rather indulge a little every day. The "flex days" approach is when you specify a couple of days each week to be lenient. But try not to think of your meals as “punishment” or “reward.” It’s best to enjoy and embrace both your healthy foods and the special treats.

The 80%

Focus on vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains and:

-Eat a variety of fresh whole foods emphasizing plants.

-Limit too much sugar, saturated fats and sodium.

-Include foods with adequate fiber.

-If you drink alcohol, do so minimally.

-Avoid processed foods.

-Eat mindfully to keep from overeating.

The 20%

After you’ve eaten healthy most of the week, it's time to relax a bit, within reason. You might have onion rings as a splurge at lunch, a glass of wine at dinner, or an ice cream treat for dessert. But keep in mind that overdoing it can send all your hard work out the window.

Knowing you can enjoy an ice cream sundae or to-die-for Italian pasta once in a while will make you more motivated to stick to healthful habits most of the time. 80% of your calories should nourish your body in the way that is healthiest for you and the other 20% can come from any food you want, though it's best to stick to foods you truly love. Those will give you the biggest boost of satisfaction.

Diets that promise quick and painless weight loss might work initially, but they seldom hold steady in the long run. What does work are making lifestyle habit changes and readjusting your thinking about food. The 80/20 diet approaches both the physical and mental aspects of weight loss, and might be a sensible, sustainable method to lose weight and stay healthy.

Researchers found that you can still lose weight after small splurges if you compensate and eat healthy most of the time. The study adds that even if you don't lose weight, you’ll be healthier overall and may have a lower risk for conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.

Having said that, if 20% turns into 40% and the healthy items only fall into 60%, you are no longer following the plan. Success with this eating style is about learning to be satisfied through moderation of flex foods and portion size.

I have always fed my family and eaten this way myself, and if you play your cards right, this approach can give you peace of mind too. Qspice Cookery is filled with hundreds of my recipes that fall into the 80% category yet taste like they belong in the 20% category!


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