I’m not going to eat a perfectly organic, healthy meal every time a bit of food passes my lips. Ladies, y’all know I eat some Chik-Fil-A!
But if I can stick to my 80/20 Rule, I feel good about myself – and my body feels good.
The principle was suggested by management thinker Joseph M. Juran. It was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population. The assumption is that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes.
What exactly Is The 80/20 Rule? In business, and in life really, it means that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs.
But with food it means you eat well 80% of the time and 20% of the time you can eat whatever the hell you want.
For me, my 20% is made up of red wine and chocolate or the occasional pizza or potato chips. I eat perfectly throughout the week and then have a couple of whatever the hell I want treats.
Eating this way has gotten me really far on my health journey. In the past I would try to be perfect and follow a diet or food philosophy to a “T” and would always fail. Any diet that told me I couldn’t have something, ever. I would freak out and not only need to have that food item, I would usually end up binging on it.
But eating by the 80/20 rule took all the pressure off and the “rules” away so that I could consistently make better food choices and eat healthier. And consistently is what wins the race and gets the job done.
The perfectionist in me still tries to beat myself up sometimes for the 20% and for the occasions where my 20% is really more like 40%, but I work hard at being kind and allowing myself the 20% treats. I would like to get to 90/10 one day, but I just keep moving in the right direction and eventually I will get there.
Also, of note, if you are in a major health crisis, say diverticulitis, diabetes, mental illness or cancer, you don’t have the luxury of the 20%. This rule is for generally healthy people who want to improve their health, or for people who are healthy and looking to maintain their health. But if you got major stuff going on, your diet needs to be perfect (I recommend the GAPS Diet book and Health, Home, and Happiness website for people who got major stuff going on and need a complete healing).