How many of us have been on diets and failed? Or have done it for a long period of time, stopped and then gained all the weight back that we lost? I have no shadow of a doubt that most of us have.
The sound of ‘diet’ makes me cringe when I hear it; it’s such a restrictive and limiting word. It already signifies that you will be unhappy with what you eat for a certain period of time, in the hope of losing weight.
If for medical reasons you need to exclude certain foods in which you can eat, then fair enough, diet has a place. However, for the majority of us, we should be able to experience all the wonderful tastes, flavors and aromas of food the world has to offer; and still achieve our fitness goals.
Life is way too short, not to enjoy food!
Why dieting does not work?
When we restrict what we eat, we are neglecting the foods we like and eating the foods we often hate or find boring. If you don’t have a balance, this will lead to overeating or binging when relapsing on a diet or having an over-the-top ‘cheat day/s’. This will result in us gaining all the weight back we fought so hard to lose because of its unsustainable nature.
While on a diet, people often become moody, emotionally stressed and suffer from hunger pangs. It’s mental anguish we just don’t need in our busy lives.
It can also be harmful to our bodies. By restricting certain foods; this may result in lacking the intake of the essential macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) our bodies need to survive. In serious cases, prolonged dieting may lead to eating disorders if not properly monitored.
The bottom line is, dieting does not become a habit or something we can sustain in the long run.
The 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule can be used universally for many things in life, but when it comes to nutrition, I find it a winning formula that is sustainable. Essentially, it means if you’re eating healthy 80% of the time, then that allows you to eat what you want and enjoy, for the remaining 20% of the time.
Firstly, healthy eating means consuming the proper nutrition to keep you in sufficient health, high energy and to feel good. Taking in vital nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins and minerals from a variety of foods across the major food groups. The food groups include – fruits and vegetables, whole grains, milk and dairy, fats and oils, meat and beans. It also means avoiding foods high in sugar, salt, processed, sweeteners, trans fats, certain oils and syrups.
When you break down the meals into a day, on average, people would eat 4-5 meals including snacks. In those meals, if you are eating healthy and consuming your daily requirements of nutrients, then you could allow a small portion of something you have been wanting or craving, each day.
When you break the meals into a week, on average, people would eat around 30 meals. If 24 of those meals are healthy, then you can effectively enjoy 6 “cheat” meals every week, whereby you can eat what you want. Just remember to keep it at a sensible portion.
This is the beauty of the 80/20 rule – it is sustainable over the long term, it doesn’t neglect foods that we all love and when combined with regular exercise, can prove to be an effective method for losing weight consistently.
We should eliminate this dreadful concept of a ‘diet’ and start enjoying a balanced way of eating, make it a lifestyle.
Try it today!