The 80/20 principle is a guideline that encourages individuals to eat healthy 80% of the time while leaving 20% leeway for those less healthy choices. This allows you to incorporate all the foods you love into an eating plan, even the worst of them, (Twinkies, anyone?) without feeling guilty. Although this sounds too good to be true, many nutrition experts have found that this concept has helped many individuals fight the battle of the bulge over time, yet knowing a little nutrition know-how and keeping yourself accountable is pretty much essential if you want this concept to guide you towards better health.
First, you have to realize that this principle is a general guideline and not a precise equation that should be used at every meal. Instead, it suggests that if an individual gives their best and eats as nutritionally as they can, successfully sticking to this plan 80% or more of the time will result in success. Or in other words, you don’t have to be a perfect eater to successfully reach your healthy living goals.
And that’s a good thing according to nutrition expert and author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips, Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN. Zied who says that “by giving people permission to indulge in small amounts of nutrient-poor but delicious foods like candy or cookies, they may feel less deprived and perhaps it will motivate them to try to include more healthful foods in their diet.”