Nutrition Principle #5 - 80/20 Principle!
We have talked about 4 important nutrition principles--
I consider these principles to be the main principles of good nutrition and health. I know that it may seem too simple for many of you, but these are the basics. I'm not saying it is easy to consistently get those right. Simple does not mean easy. I also know that figuring out what your "formula" for good health is no easy feat! Even more, being consistent with what you know you "should do" is especially not easy. Still, I believe that endeavor is worth it for long term health, clarity (opposite of confusion by all of the health/diet talk), and freedom. Get serious and get after good health. Learn how to eat healthy and learn your personal formula or plan for "eating healthy."
Another principle I believe is SO important for staying healthy is the 80/20 principle. The 80/20 principle to me means eating healthy (as defined by the other 4 principles and above paragraph) about 80% of the time. I like to focus on the 80%! I do not call my "20%" unhealthy or "bad" or "cheating." I simply call it 20%. I actually believe and frame it this way: I focus on my best health choices that are going to fuel my mind, give me energy, and help me do the work and tasks I have been called to do 80% of the time, the other 20% just is what it is--there is flexibility and a lot of options in that 20%.
Sometimes in the "20" I am still making healthy choices. Sometimes I am making food choices that are outside of what I define as my best health when it comes to nutrition. However, I still call them good because I might make those flexible choices because I am...
celebrating (birthday, holiday, friendships, guests, etc) and celebrating is good.
eating out with a friend and eating out with a friend is good.
at a holiday meal with my family and a holiday meal with my family is good.
doing ministry and eating in others' homes and doing ministry and eating with others is good.
in a difficult or busy season and can hardly get a meal on a table and making a convenient choice is good and gives me mental capacity for another important job, act of service, or wellness domain demanding attention.
To be frank, I would argue that it is next to impossible to eat healthy 100% of the time without obsessing. And, obsessing over our health is NOT healthy. We want to walk in freedom, joy, and with room for options, life, celebrating, and doing life with others without so many rules. The 20 is not license to just go CRAZY and indulge or binge. If you do that, it might be more than "20." The 80/20 principle is focusing on good health and eating healthy the vast majority (much more than 51% 😉) of the time while also having time for all of the normal life that comes your way when eating "your healthy best" is not possible, not ideal, and not loving to others around you, and not the best choice for you.
80/20 helps you strive towards health and consistently eat healthy the majority of the time.
80/20 is not so restrictive, so it will help prevent binging and yo-yo dieting.
80/20 is a great way to pursue healthy nutrition without counting calories and/or macros.
80/20 allows for individuals to define their health and eat that way mostly and also define their flexibility and eat that way when preferred, necessary, or a good option.
80/20 allows freedom to eat things you enjoy without guilt because this is part of life and part of a good plan that you actually set out to do!
The truth is, freedom living is not just eating any and everything you want whenever you want. I am SORRY...if you were looking for that kind of "healthy nutrition plan," it just does not exist. They Lord has designed our bodies and given us good food to eat. We do need to steward our health and make good choices. Ideally, yes, we would make good choices all of the time. But, there are so many things fighting against that, and honestly sometimes those are good things. We need to allow room for those good things.
Sometimes it is that we are offered good food (by a friend or a host or at a celebration) that is not nutritionally healthy. It is good to receive and partake in that meal!
Sometimes it is that we are busy with other really good things--our jobs, serving others, our families, a special task--and we need to make a choice to focus on those good things more than good nutrition.
Sometimes we simply need to take a chill pill and relax and enjoy life and a yummy treat!
Are these things license to do whatever you want? eat whatever you want? NO. You should steward your health, learn to eat healthy, and seek to eat in a way that is going to serve your body, mind, and emotions well. Having "the 20" is also healthy because sometimes you learn from it...that you don't feel as well afterward--learning is healthy. Sometimes you enjoy that meal and don't feel so deprived and have self control at other times, which is also healthy. Having flexibility in your life is a very good and healthy thing. For some people, the 80/20 principle is sustainable, prevents binging, and leads to progress or good sustainable health. Of course, there are some people that this does not work for, but it's good for the majority of people.
Hear me all the way...I do believe rules and boundaries are good and serve a wonderful purpose. But, I do think giving yourself permission to eat a different way about 20% of the time and actually planning for it will help you loosen up to live a more healthy lifestyle the majority of the time and more and more.
Flexibility, joy, and freedom are so very healthy and good for you.
Obsessing over food and being rigid will often lead to bondage, fear, shame, and guilt.
Allow for room to be flexible, but not license for overindulgence.
I really don't want you to sit down and calculate out 80% and 20% of your nutritional intake! I want you to live WAY more freely than that. But, let's try to consider what is 80% and what is 20%? What does this look like?
Let's say you eat only 3 meals each day--that is 21 meals in a week. 80% would be about 17 of those meals. What if you ate about 17 "healthy meals," according to good health for you and then intentionally knew 20% of those meals--about 4 meals had much room and flexibility. For some people this could be a flexible dinner with your family 4 nights (that's every other night! the majority of your weekly nights!). For some, this could be lunches out with colleagues. It could also be enjoying those meals at a weekend away. For others (you overseas workers that often eat with others), this could be when you eat those meals in others' homes as you do ministry!