The 80-20 rule

I’ve offered up what clean eating means to me here but perhaps the one thing I’ve not talked about enough is I’m no purist. I live and die by the 80-20 rule.

That is, 80% of the time I eat awesome, whole unadulterated foods. 20% of the time there may be something rather more rebellious that makes its way into my diet.

I’m all about eating foods that make us as happy and healthy as possible. Ultimately ‘clean’ foods will keep us healthiest and by default, health equals happiness, right?

But I don’t deny myself a treat. I drink alcohol, I gladly order a dessert in a restaurant at the weekend, have cake on a special occasion and providing this occasional treat doesn’t compromise my health in any way, I don’t feel bad about it at all.

The 80-20 rule upheld at Byron – Brooklyn lager is definitely one of my favourites

Brooklyn Beer Pinterest

I’m mindful of balance, I know when I’ve had one treat too many and I tend to tweak what constitutes a ‘treat’ depending on my goals – sometimes it’s a roast potato, sometimes it’s a 99 (with a flake & red sauce, of course), sometimes it’s those crumpets. Other times, a week will go by without a single indulgence I’m more 100-0 than 80-20. I’m happy that way. I’ll never make a bikini model, I’ll fill out my size 12 not 10 skinny jeans and enjoy my regular portion of cheese. If the bread’s crusty, warm and home made, I’ll rarely say no.

What’s your go to for a treat? 

11 thoughts on “The 80-20 rule

  1. You are so right Ruth. Sticking to something where you crave those treats is not a sustainable way of life. As a continuing chocoholic, I know what’s good but like you, treat myself with what’s bad (occasionally) and let the exercise take care of the bad stuff. Not strictly the purist way to a ripped bod, but it’s kept me at my fighting weight so I’m happy with it! 🙂

    • Thanks for checking in Andy. I find it’s all about parameters too. Saying no to that daily biscuit / piece of Haribo / slice of cake that so regularly features in the office but having a slap up portion of something as an occasional treat works so much better for me in terms of keeping on the straight and narrow. If boundaries are defined not blurred it’s definitely easier (for me, at least) to stay in tip top condition. Enjoy your treat this week and feel proud of how you’ve sustained your incredible efforts to date.

  2. I had Brooklyn lager in Brooklyn! It was lush! Sadly at the moment I’m living the 80-20 in the wrong direction!!! But with your wisdom Ruth I hope that on my return to Wales I’ll be on the path the health and happiness! X

  3. I totally agree with your approach, it’s an approach that is as much about mental vitality as well as physical. Let’s be honest; life is there for living, and if your life feels restricted because of the 20% of the time you want to relax a bit, then it’s going to be a cause for unhappiness. I say as someone who is about to go beyond the 80% (willingly, but nervously) for a shortish period of time for a specific goal, but I totally agree with the 80/20 approach.

    • Hey Marcus, I 100% admire your efforts – and those of others, especially Figure Comp folks. It’s hardcore and it’s definitely about what matters to us in life at any given time. I’ve been there. 7 days of fish, greens and eggs yielded incredible results! When not feeling comfortable in my own skin overrides my love of cheese… and wine… and chocolate… then I’ll sure as heck embrace that kind of clean eating simplicity again. Until then… Halloumi for lunch 😉

  4. Just got back from a family reunion where we ate nothing but junk. I felt like CRAP. After I cleanse with some serious roughage consumption I will be back to my favorite indulgence, chocolate chip cookies 🙂
    P.S. Just found you last week….loving it so far 🙂

    • Welcome aboard AnnaB! We love new readers here at Let Her Eat Clean. Get togethers out of your usual environment can definitely be tough going. I think that’s another reason why 80-20 comes into its own as it (generally) stops any kind of binging that can also have the effect of leaving you feeling equally as groggy. Enjoy stocking up on those greens – be sure to leave some for the rest of us… 🙂

  5. Its hard to work out when your due a treat – sometimes I have to schedule mine because I forget! Anyway, Byron is the best place to have a treat meal. I’m still trying to find out what the Irish version of it is!

    • Hi Stephanie, so great to hear from you. Double skinny, bacon, cheese, avocado? That was definitely a fave of mine. Washed down with a Brooklyn occasionally too. When it comes to treats I tend to go with my gut – quite literally. This week for example there’s been supper out on Thursday, a bit of a treat on Friday and some celebrations last night and more due for lunchtime today. I feel so much more in control of my diet these days that I’m able to opt for just a little bit of what I fancy here and there and by default it’ll likely workout that all my choices next week are super clean & healthy. But when I’ve had a goal in mind, a marathon to train for, a wedding dress to wriggle into, I’ve definitely found a more planned indulgence is an easier way of managing the commitment to a more hardcore cause! Lovely to hear from you. Thanks for checking in.

  6. Pingback: Don’t, whatever you do, go on a diet « Let Her Eat Clean

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