The 80/20-Rule As A Good Compass – Food Pharmacy

Helena Önneby

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The 80/20-Rule As A Good Compass

It’s not about what you eat between Christmas and New Year’s, but what you eat between New Year’s and Christmas. 

Sometimes I hear the comment: That could never work when travelling or It’s too difficult to be difficult when being invited to other people’s houses as an excuse to not improve your food choices. This is my take on it: Focus on making good choices 80% of the time and let go of stressing about the 20% of the time when you don’t “succeed”. 

Our mind looks for the simplest way out. It searches excuses for not doing what is a bit difficult in the beginning. But what about Christmas, it’ll be super tricky eating my special food with the whole family or In 2 months I’m travelling to that place where it will be difficult to find healthy foods, so I better just wait until afterwards. But what if you would start off with the notion of 80/20? There is no “perfect” diet/ lifestyle/ human being, so why not just let that go right away? 

Have you heard the expression: Nothing is so healthy that you can eat it all the time and nothing is so unhealthy that you can eat it none of the time? It fits well with the 80/20-rule. 

Our bodies are amazing at self-healing and taking care of some of the crap that we put into it, that’s what it does for us all day long. But not to any extent. There will come a time when the body will start protesting, when it’s had enough. 

Imagine that you have a health account and you always want to have a positive balance in the account, preferably with some extra savings. And that “not as good” choices cost a little more than the good choices fill your account up.  A less good choice is deducted from the account, but you fill up again by many good choices, 80% of the time.

I try to remember that I want my body to thank me for what I’m feeding it, something like: Hey, thanks, that’s exactly what I needed today, I’ll use that to repair this thing over here! rather than Oh no, ouch, that’s mean, are you mad at me or something? This is gonna take days to deal with!

And, in the reality of paradoxes that we live in, sometimes it’s also nice to choose the perspective of all or nothing. It’s easier to decide on something 100% than 99% because that 1% can be a constant debate with yourself. I decided years ago to not eat gluten, cow’s milk protein or meat. Since I made that choice, I never need to debate with myself: Am I eating that today or not? But my health challenges where, on the other hand, more complex than most so maybe I need to be stricter than most. 

I also avoid refined white sugars but use the 80/20-rule in this area. 80% of the time when I want something sweet, I’ll find an alternative that don’t contain sugar, but when I can’t find an alternative, I just let it go and enjoy whatever it is that I want to eat. 

Don’t avoid making healthier choices based on all the excuses your mind will come up with. Your mind is immensely creative. Start with the next choice you have and take it from there. And even though you, most likely, will “fall off the wagon” more than once, just start. And every time you choose to indulge in something that your body might not love but your mind does, or you simply don’t have access to a better alternative, enjoy and then let it go. There will be more choices ahead and you always have the power to choose. 

What mind tricks do you use to make the better choices for yourself? 

This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own.



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