The 80/20 lifestyle is the way to go for so many reasons. I get so fired up about sharing what I’ve learned about living 80/20 because it has helped me stay healthy AND happy, which we all know is a pretty hard balance to achieve. I have been practicing 80/20 for about a while now, and this plan is the only one I can confidently say has worked for me and that I recommend. It’s pretty simple, and it’s very effective.
THE 80/20 LIFESTYLE CONCEPT
So here’s the way 80/20 works: for about 80% of the meals I eat in a given week, I strive for whole food, plant based options. This means no meat and no cheese or other dairy. I rely heavily on unrefined wholegrain foods like quinoa and buckwheat as major components in my 80% meals. It’s so important to experiment and discover meals that you love when it comes to the 80% category—there are so many great options, so don’t wrongly assume that whole food, plant based meals have to be limited or boring.
The 20% meals allow a little space to have some fun. Your 20% meals should amount to 3-4 of your weekly meals. These meals are not meant to be an all-out splurge… I don’t recommend eating an entire meal of fried food, cheese, meat, and a giant dessert. The 20% meals should still (for the most part) follow the guidelines of your 80% meals, but with a little wiggle room. For me, this looks like indulging in a side of tater-tots or having a dessert. For others, it might mean eating meat (try to limit meat consumption to 3-4x a week… not at every meal!) or cheese. Oils and cheese are heavy on saturated fat, which is why I put them in the 20% category.
80% VS. 20% MEALS
80% meal examples:
- B.B. smoothies
- Jackfruit tacos on Siete tortillas
- Big leafy green salads with dressings by Primal Potential or a dressing made with simple olive oil + vinegar + sea salt + pepper dressing. PS whenever I eat out and want to keep that meal in my 80%, I always bring my own dressing.
- Veggie pizza made on the plant-based Cali’flour crust
- “Alfredo” pasta made with lentil + chickpea pasta and The Honest Stand vegan cheese sauce
- Dave’s Killer Bread (or Ezekiel) Thin Sliced toast with Bomb Butter smeared on top
- ISO: still looking for an awesome veggie burger I can buy the store! Let me know your favorite brands.
20% meal examples:
- My 20% meals usually occur when I eat out, but there is this one pasta brand I love that I will cook at home and it stays in my 20%!
- Capelli fettuccine pasta with a vegan sauce. It is made with almond flour and eggs. So that is why it stays in my 20%, because of the eggs.
- Ricotta gnocchi pasta with a vegan sauce. I usually get this from The Obstinate Daughter.
- Vegan pizza from Mellow Mushroom. I’ll bring my own vegan ranch as a dip. Sometimes I will get the soft pretzel with the mustard sauce from MM because it is just so darn good.
- Tater tots from Home Team BBQ.
- Black mean nachos without cheese from Home Team BBQ. I use the BBQ sauce instead of the cheese.
- If at a party or event: I’ll eat some of the dessert. I usually won’t eat the whole thing because I know it won’t make me feel good.
WHY 80/20 WORKS FOR ME, AND WHY IT’LL WORK FOR YOU
So why have I chosen this lifestyle, and why does it work? Basically, a 100% whole foods, plant-based diet (for me, anyway) made me pretty miserable. I was constantly craving ‘fun foods’ and felt like eating socially was such a drag. I became a little obsessive. I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the things that I wanted, but never allowed myself to eat.
Also, America is a REALLY hard place to practice a totally healthy, vegan diet. There are just too many treats and junk food options that are so tied to a normal social life. Before practicing 80/20 I never had alcohol. This was a real bummer when I was out with friends, and I felt like I was always missing out. Now, I’ll allow myself a drink or two on Fridays and Saturdays like a tequila soda lime or champagne.
Lastly, I think that every so often, it’s important to allow “emotional feedings”. I’m not talking about going crazy and binging; I’m talking about indulging in foods that make us happy and that we enjoy every once and a while—foods that give us a break from an otherwise concentrated diet of healthy whole foods. Being able to take a break from eating totally clean and healthy takes off the pressure and strain of our normal diets and allows a little breathing room while maintaining an over-all healthy lifestyle. One of the best parts of the 80/20 lifestyle is being able to eat some “cheat” meals and not having to feel guilty over it!
80/20 In Practice
I take my 80/20 lifestyle day-by-day. For some people, meal planning is freeing. For me, meal planning means stress and slipping into my bad habit of obsessively thinking about food. One of the reasons I created Blender Bombs is because they lay the perfect foundation for an 80/20 lifestyle. I know that every day, my first meal is going to be a smoothie packed with plant-based, whole foods ingredients that will keep me full until my second meal. It’s easy, it creates a pattern, and it takes out the guesswork for half of my total meals.
For dinner, I decide day by day what I’m going to eat. There are a hand-full of restaurants in Charleston that serve some go-to 80% meals (stay tuned for a round-up of them!), and I also love my Purple Carrot deliveries because they are always fresh and follow my 80% guidelines. I also keep standby groceries that are whole food, plant-based on hand. It’s really not as difficult as you might think!
What does 80/20 look like for you? What are some of the ways that this lifestyle has benefitted you? What questions do you have about the 80/20 lifestyle? Comment below!