Tenerife Retreat

The 80-20 Rule

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What Is It and How To Apply It?

Originally the 80/20 rule was known as the Pareto principle which states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. You can apply the rule to many aspects of your life like goal setting and diet.

I am going to focus on how to use the rule with your diet.

It’s common knowledge that depriving yourself of all treats and sweets simply isn’t sustainable and can also create and exacerbate an unhealthy relationship with food.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a “diet” or “weight loss tool”. The 80/20 is an approach to healthy eating teaching you balance, moderation and indulging without a guilty feeling.

The basic idea of the 80/20 rule is very simple. In order to be healthy and balanced, you don’t always have to make 100% healthy food choices. 80% is enough. The remaining 20% you can choose less healthy food and indulge yourself.

80% of the time I am cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients – which I love doing because of how it makes me feel. My energy levels are more stable, I recover quicker after training and I love the mindful process of cooking.

20% of the time I am drinking craft beer, eating chocolate brownies and the finest gelato ice-cream I can find!

Here is a common example:

A colleague has a birthday and brings a delicious home-made chocolate cake in to celebrate. You’ve been making a big effort to eat healthier recently but decide to take a piece, even though you know cake doesn’t fit into “eating healthily”. Afterwards, you feel guilty and the day is ruined. You then continue to eat sweet treats for the rest of the day and in the worst case you give up on eating healthy.

Following the 80/20 rule, your approach can be different. The piece of a cake is part of your 20%. With that in mind, you decide to enjoy the delicious cake and go back to eating healthily afterwards, with no feelings of guilt.

How to Incorporate It

Aim to cook from scratch using fresh ingredients.

Indulge on the weekends only. 

Always go for quality. 

Don’t binge. 

Enjoy it all, not just the 20%

Keep in mind, every meal is an opportunity to nourish your body. For many of us, every bite should count in order to reward us with fibre, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (plant compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds).

If you learn to love the 80 percent—to crave fresh vegetables and home cooked food, then you won’t be dying for the 20 percent. Instead of thinking of it as a reward, think of it as some wiggle room to enjoy your life to its fullest!