As a Performance Dietitian with EXOS I talk to my clients about the 80/20 approach. “Everything in moderation” is a dietitian’s tag line, right? Well, it’s true. My philosophy is to focus on healthy eating (and lifestyle) most of the time. I don’t believe in eliminating any foods or food groups (unless medically necessary). The basis behind the 80/20 approach is in line with my nutrition philosophy. 80% of the time you are eating for health/performance/recovery or whatever your goal might be. You are choosing nutrient dense whole foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, quality proteins, healthy fats) that provide your body the nourishment it needs to support your goals. 20% of the time, however, you are eating for the simple enjoyment that food provides. Food tastes good! Food should be exciting, delicious and something to look forward to. This can be incorporated throughout the week at meals and/or snack times or you can save up your 20% and have a full day where you are not thinking about fueling for performance. This doesn’t mean you should go hog wild and eat everything in sight, it just means that you are eating with a different intent. You may have to change your mindset from the old “cheat day” philosophy. That philosophy implies that you are doing something bad or wrong and can lead to negative feelings towards food. I want you to remain positive towards food and nutrition.
Tip: If you want a tangible way to track your 80/20, you can create a jar where you put a coin in every time you indulge in a 20% food choice knowing that when you get to a certain point (Ex: if you eat 6 meals/snacks per day, you are eating 42 times per week (7 days x 6 meals) so 20% of 42 = approx. 8), you are done for the week.