Balanced Diet Isn’t ‘All or Nothing’

The Pareto Principle is a widely applied principle, which specifies that 80% of consequences come from 20% of causes. This principle is aptly known as the 80/20 rule. During this series, we will be going through ways this rule can be applied to multiple aspects of your life to help in achieving a healthy and balanced lifestyle. 

What Does 80/20 Mean when Eating?

Let’s preface by saying the 80/20 rule is not a diet.  Many diets focus on deprivation of a certain food or food group — it seems this course of action is not for most of us. Instead, the 80/20 rule is rooted in achieving a sustainable lifestyle. With this approach, the goal is to find balance, moderation and alleviate the feeling of guilt with indulgences. 

Applying the rule is simple – 80% of the time you should truly focus on consuming quality, whole foods; food that will provide you with the proper nutrients and fuel. The other 20% you can ease up and consume foods that you truly enjoy but  may not provide as many nutrients. Allowing yourself that space to indulge will help to alleviate that feeling of guilt or “cheating” when you do indulge. This can also help with the mental and emotional strain that is sometimes associated with diets that people try to deem as “healthy” eating. 

How to Approach the Rule

The rule can be approached many different ways. Some choose to use this rule on a weekly basis. The weekdays can be treated as the 80% and the weekends can be treated as the 20%. This approach is great for those who have a structured weekly schedule but want to keep the weekends flexible. If approaching it on a weekly basis, understand that the 20% really equates to 1 ½ days or 4 meals out of the 7 days. The 80/20 rule can also be applied on a daily or meal basis. 80% of each day or each meal can be focused on nutrients and the other 20% can be those indulgences. This is a great approach for people who don’t have as much structure during the week or for those who enjoy having a treat at the end of each day. 

Tips for successfully implementing the 80/20 rule

Tips for successfully implementing the 80/20 rule

  • Don’t overindulge
    The point of the 20% is to promote moderation and avoid the binge. While you want that 20% to be relaxed, you can still practice mindfulness.
  • Be kind to yourself 
    We believe that is a tip for life in general, but especially when trying to implement this approach. Don’t let guilt consume you after you have that cookie or drink that glass of wine. 
  • Pay attention to portions
    This goes for the 80% and the 20%

You know what is great about the 80/20 rule? You don’t have to track your meals or count your calories, no food is “off-limits,” and you don’t have to deprive yourself of any of the foods you love! This approach is practical, sustainable and it promotes independence in healthy eating. 

Have questions about how to get started using the 80/20 rule? We’d love to help! Feel free to send an email to or get in touch with us through social media. 

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