You’ve probably heard about the 80/20 concept, which involves eating “clean”, wholesome and nourishing foods 80% of the time, and indulging in some less-than- healthful choices the other 20%.
That might translate as a diet rich in whole, mostly gluten-free grains, good-quality protein sources, fruits, and vegetables, but which avoids dairy, sugar and caffeine, along with bloaty carbs from, say, bagels or pasta. In the fruit and vegetable department, I try and purchase a mix of organic and conventional produce, depending on what is available and the pricing. My 80% falls between Monday – Friday. Friday evening till Sunday evening, I get to indulge in some less than healthy choices, enjoy some wine, etc. I should say that even within that time frame, I don’t go “hog wild”. I usually still try to make the best of the worst type of choices. It’s a gamble depending on what is going on in our lives in a given weekend.
Why do I choose to do this? Am I motivated by the opportunity for weight loss? Not really. Am I motivated by overall health? I am totally driven to find balance in every part of my life. As a nutritionist, I most definitely have opinions about certain food categories. For example, I am concerned that simple carbs such as white breads, bagels, pastries, etc. and sugar are not good for me. In addition to being completely devoid of nutrients, they serve to zap my much needed energy. In excess, they would be responsible for weight gain, and disease states that lead to things such as type II diabetes. I choose more complex carbs because they are usually in foods that are more nutrient dense like vegetables, beans,legumes, and fruit (did you know fruit was a “carb”?) and are much better for sugar balance.
But food is only part of the story.
Through the 80/20 concept, I’ve been approaching my whole life in an 80/20 format. And I’ve discovered it provides incredible balance.
As parents to three teenaged daughters, my husband and I have a rich but hectic family life. It’s busy. I love the time I spend with my family, but anyone who knows me sees that I also take the time to nurture myself. 80% mom/20% me. True, the 20% crams in a lot of things, such as wife, nutritionist, sister, friend, exercise enthusiast and spin instructor, volunteer board member, etc. I guess the point is that I am seeking balance. Balance in my food choices and balance in my lifestyle.
There are challenges. Sleep is one of them. I have trouble sleeping more than 6 hours at a stretch, which doesn’t feel like enough. This is my biggest challenge right now. I am working on getting there. If I can figure that one out, then I will truly be able to say that I embody the 80/20 approach to life.
When working with my clients, I try and encourage them to find ways to incorporate this into their own lives. Life is too short to feel deprived or unsatisfied. 80/20 – it makes me feel 100%.
What is your equation for balance? How do you achieve it?