6 Ways to Make the 80/20 Philosophy a Reality

Aug 24 2016
Question@2x Hi Hungry Girl,

Longtime fan! For years, you've talked about your 80/20 approach to food and weight maintenance. I get the general concept, but I'm not sure exactly how to incorporate it into my life. Could you give me some specific ideas?

In Need of 80/20 Tips
Answer@2x Hi In Need,
You bet! What I call the 80/20 rule has always been at the core of the Hungry Girl philosophy. It's been my personal strategy for as long as I've been maintaining my weight (over 13 years!). In a nutshell, it means making smart food choices 80 percent of the time and loosening up the reins for the other 20 percent. Since you asked for specifics, here are six great ways to make 80/20 work for you...

Jot down what you eat. When you're first getting started with 80/20, it can be really helpful to track your food. Otherwise, you might think you're only splurging occasionally when you're really making questionable choices half of the time. So keep tabs on your food choices, and review them at the end of the day. Try to hit that 80/20 balance.

Take it one meal at a time. If you go out to dinner and want to enjoy a few cocktails or a decadent dessert, send away the bread basket and keep your entrée light to balance out the indulgence. If you're craving pasta, pair a small portion with broth-based soup and a big side of veggies. Another way to think of the 80/20 rule is to make most of your meals 80 percent produce and protein, with 20 percent of everything else.

If you have a full day of over-the-top food choices (it happens!), keep things lean and clean for the next several days. The 80/20 approach is all about being realistic. No one's perfect 100 percent of the time! So if you go a little nuts one day, don't panic; and definitely don't "wait until Monday" or the start of the next month to get back on track. Instead, consider that day your "20 percent," and take the rest of week to make really smart choices as often as possible.

Another way to balance out excess food intake? Amp up your exercise. I always aim to get at least 10,000 steps per day. (Go, Housewalking!) It keeps my metabolism moving, and it makes me feel great. But if I go a little overboard one day, I'll step it up (pun intended!) for the next few days. I'll pick up the pace when I walk, and try to hit at least 15,000 steps.

Pack smart emergency snacks to keep restaurant portions in check. This tip is especially great when you're traveling and out of your normal food routine. If you're eating out for most of your meals, you're probably eating richer, more calorie-heavy foods than what you'd make at home. Snacking between meals is a smart way to downsize your appetite and reduce your food intake at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here are some of my top emergency snack picks.

Take the 80/20 approach to the types of foods you eat. It's not just about calorie intake. I find that choosing natural, whole foods the majority of the time -- and giving myself a break the rest of the time -- makes a healthy lifestyle more realistic. So if you're trying to eat clean but can't quite give up your morning non-dairy flavored coffee creamer or occasional sugar-free shaved ice, don't beat yourself up! An all-or-nothing attitude could lead you to throw in the towel altogether.

There you have it! Keep in touch, and let me know how it goes...

Chew on this:

Today, August 24th, is National Peach Pie Day. This upside-down pie is about eighty percent peaches and twenty percent blueberries!

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