Nobody's perfect. We humans simply aren't made that way. We're designed to make mistakes, fall down sometimes (and hopefully get back up), and navigate a constantly changing world. This is especially evident when it comes to living healthfully.
That's why the 80/20 rule is so appealing. The concept of spending 80% of your life eating healthfully and the remaining 20% indulging is reasonable, responsible, simple, and realistic (unlike all those diet fads that come and go in the blink of an eye). Here's why it works—and why I've spent the better part of the past decade happily practicing it.
The 80/20 rule is simple to follow
There's no set plan, though keeping a temporary food diary in the beginning of your journey can help you better understand what you're truly eating every day. It's more about making yourself consciously aware of the foods you're putting into your mouth rather than depriving your body of what it wants.
The 80/20 rule is practical
Anyone who's ever been on a restrictive diet knows the feeling of immediately craving off-limits foods. With the 80/20 rule, though, it's more about eating indulgent foods 20% of the time instead of never. Take deprivation out of the equation, and you're left with a practical solution to balancing good and bad foods. The good foods take center stage, while the bad ones become occasional indulgences instead of daily ones.
The 80/20 rule can make you crave good foods
After eating more whole nutritious foods, you might find that you like them more than you thought. And you can experiment with them, finding new ways to add flavor and spice to whole grains and vegetables. Once this becomes a habit, it becomes easier to eat delicious fruit, tasty veggies, and other nutritious foods throughout the day.
The 80/20 rule can eliminate shame
We've all been there, taking out that big spoon and digging in to a tub of ice cream. But how often have we actually felt good about that decision afterward? Almost never. With the 80/20 rule, though, the ice cream is still available. And because you've already built that 20% into your day, it erases the guilt of actually eating it.
The 80/20 rule is attainable
Subscribing to this attainable lifestyle can have some pretty amazing benefits. For one, pumping healthier choices into your body regularly can lead to easier weight maintenance, higher energy levels, and ultimately more confidence. Rather than employing a quick-fix diet solution that will no doubt be temporary, try living by the 80/20 rule for a more realistic, more attainable lifestyle change.
But be patient! In a way, your body is learning a new way of eating and a new way of living. It takes time to get used to and make it a daily routine, but it gets easier over time—and it's worth the wait.