Journey to Food Freedom, Part 1: 80/20 Balance
If you’ve been around my neck of the woods for a bit, you know I’m passionate about preaching the 80/20 balance and living it out myself. After years of yo-yo dieting, feeling guilt and shame attached to food choices and trying to figure out what the right “diet plan” is as a woman, I finally cracked the code to food freedom and lasting success, for myself at least.
My definition of 80/20 balance as it pertains to nutrition: Consume whole, one ingredient foods 80% of the time and allow 20% room for flex meals and other foods you enjoy that may not fit the 80% rule. You can get very detailed with these numbers if you wish. If you consume 4 meals a day, 7 days a week, then 22 of your meal should fall under your 80% and 6 meals can fall under your 20%. Or, you can loosely go about your week and fit in 1-2 flex meals (20%). The goal is to not overcomplicate it and to keep a mindful stance on your approach to nutrition.
You might be curious what foods fall under that 80% or whole food label. These are going to be the foods you find mostly shopping the perimeter of your grocery store. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, quality animal protein sources and fish. Yes, you can graze down some of the aisles to find some of these products, such as canned tuna, Extra virgin Olive Oil, Avocado oil, coffee, herbal tea, whole grains like oats, quinoa, rice, etc. But the main point here is that if it has a label that consist of 5 of more ingredients that you can’t identify with, then it most likely is considered a processed food.
Processed foods most definitely fall into the 20% category. These are going to be your boxed goods, pastries, cereals, breads, ice cream, French fries, etc. I LOVE me a good flex meal. I 100% believe you should incorporate these into your week.
It was when I began to see this 80/20 lifestyle come together that I began to experience a freedom I’ve never felt before. It was a plan, a way to go about my week and ensure I was fueling my body with nutrient dense food, which I now enjoy just as much as my 20%. We know that our body needs nutrient dense food in order to keep our processes running smoothly. We know that this is increasingly important as we age if we want to live life to its fullest, Lord willing. We aren’t promised tomorrow, but we are called to take care of our earthly bodies. My goal has shifted from being skinny and fit in a size 0, to feeling well, maintaining my weight and fueling my body with foods that serve me well and prevent chronic illness and disease. Because let me tell you, you can certainly be skinny fat.
You will find me enjoying homemade gluten free pizza every Friday night with my family, out to dinner on a date with my husband enjoying some French fries and baking cookies with my daughter and enjoying a few. The 2 key strategies to consuming these types of foods is the frequency and what environment you are consuming them in.
It is vital that we consume those 20% foods in a positive environment. Listen to this two-part example of how you can consume a plate of French fries.
- Such a stressful day of work, I can’t wait to get home and bake a pan of fries, eat them by myself until I’m stuffed.
- I’ve got a date planned with my husband this weekend. I’m really looking forward to catching up with him and enjoying one of my favorite foods, French fries.
Same food, two different head spaces. #1 often produces feelings of guilt and shame after, which only causes us to continue to make choices that don’t honor our bodies and our health and wellness goals. #2 gives us the freedom to enjoy French fries in a positive environment, laughing and pursuing a positive relationship. Most often we may feel bloated after, but we don’t carry the negativity attached, which allows us to choose jump right back on track with whole food nutrition our next meal. This has been game changer with my clients!
Have you noticed this before? I hope you found this to be insightful in your health journey. I would love for you to leave some feedback or drop me a message. I would love to connect!