What Does an 80/20 Lifestyle Look Like?

If I had two regularly portion-sized “bad” foods in one day, I would never log 80%. 

That’s something I heard from someone in my Spring Challenge last week and it made me realize one person’s 80% could look totally different that some else’s.

If you read my blog or follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably heard me talking about leading an 80/20 lifestyle. This means I eat whole, nutritious foods 80% of the time and roughly 20% of the time I eat “soul foods” (ie. foods that sound good and may or may not have much nutritional value). Something I love about an 80/20 lifestyle is that it’s a bit ambiguous. However, if someone starts trying to adopt an 80/20 lifestyle and comes from a very restrictive background they may need to adjust their expectations.

This day would be about 70/30 in my opinion!

The person above asked for an example of an 80/20 day, and I think it’s helpful to see an example of what that looks like in real life:

  • Breakfast: Oats with protein powder, peanut butter, banana and chocolate chips
  • Lunch: Sweet potato fry bowl with ground turkey, brussels, tomato, onion and dressing/sauce
  • Snack: 1 Serving Pita chips with hummus
  • Dinner: Homemade burrito bowl with chicken, veggies, guacamole
  • Dessert: Homemade Chocolate chip cookie

You can have a cookie and pita chips in the same day and still count it as 80/20. If both are a regular portion size, personally I think the day listed above still falls into the right balance.

It’s important to remember that just because I’m living an “80/20 lifestyle” doesn’t mean I have to eat a processed or “less nutritious” food every day. The option is just there for the taking.

If I’m going on a vacation one week out of the month and the vacation is likely to be more 60/40 I can keep the other 3 weeks of the month more 90/10 so that it all evens out. The point is not to be meticulously tracking and guesstimating percentages — the point is to not label anything as “off limits”, but still prioritize nutritious food as a whole because that feels good.

One serving of crackers in an otherwise “perfect” day does not dock you a whole 20%. Maybe a big slice of birthday cake is 20%, but you get to decide where that line is.

I also totally recognize that an 80/20 ratio might not be right for everyone. Maybe 20% is too much for you or thinking this way about food doesn’t jive with you — that’s okay! Everyone is different, but personally having some wiggle room and choosing to eat nutritious foods most of the time keeps me feeling happy & healthy.

What do you think about an 80/20 lifestyle? Does it seem too restrictive, just right or not restrictive enough for you?

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