We’ve all been there — you follow a strict diet that promises quick results, but you feel restricted all week, only to give in and eat all your cravings in one weekend. Then you feel like you’ve failed, so you start this vicious cycle again. Restrictive dieting doesn’t work for most people because of the mindset surrounding it. Once you “cheat” or have a little treat, you’ve automatically failed your diet and need to “start over.”

In reality, balance is the key to implementing a healthy lifestyle that will last you your whole life.

Unlike other diets, the 80/20 method focuses on balance and eating healthy while also treating yourself in moderation.

The 80/20 method states that 80% of your diet should be healthy whole foods while the other 20% can be whatever you desire. It shifts your mindset away from those restrictive negative thoughts and towards being motivated to treat your body well. Within the 80%, make sure you’re eating whole foods such as fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, such as avocado and nuts. Drink lots of water and avoid added sugars and processed foods. Then, for your 20%, you can enjoy anything you desire. The specific foods that fall into each category might differ depending on your goals, but generally, your diet should comprise primarily whole foods.

Although the 80/20 rule isn’t a traditional weight loss diet, you can still use it to reach your goal weight, especially if you aren’t eating primarily whole foods at the moment.  If your diet is comprised of a lot of processed foods, making this shift will bring results.  Remember that losing weight fast is never a long-term solution. Instead, focus on building healthy eating habits and a healthy mindset, which the 80/20 rule encourages.

healthy plate of food with chicken avocado utensils

Remember that while the 80/20 rule isn’t restrictive, you should be careful how you divide up this ratio. Some people prefer that their 80% is five days of the week, and then they can use the 20% for their weekends. However, the goal of this rule is to build healthy eating habits. Not only is forcing yourself to eat completely clean for the entire workweek quite restrictive but allowing yourself to eat completely unhealthy for the entire weekend will make it difficult to reach your healthy lifestyle goals. This method is about balance.

You should eat whole foods every day to get the nutrients your body needs to function happily and healthily. While treats are great in moderation, the majority of your calories should always come from whole foods. If you do decide to divide your 80/20 rule by the weekdays, remember that you should still have nutritious food on those “20%” days, in addition to your treats.

Overall, the 80/20 method is an excellent rule of thumb for helping you build healthy eating habits. It’s a refreshing change from the traditional restrictive diets, allowing you to create a positive relationship with food finally.

Want to give food journaling a try?

Journaling can help you keep track of what you eat and live healthier. Click here to download our free 7-Day Food Journal to get started.

7-day food journal cover