Working in the fitness industry, people ask me all the time, “what should I eat?” Let me start by saying, the photo featured for this post indicates part of the 20 percent I choose to abide by – but more on that later!
I am not a dietician, or registered nutritionist, but I do have a passion around educating myself on nutrition, the best fuel for my body, and in helping people find a diet that makes them feel their best. I believe (very strongly) that our culture’s entire conversation around diet and exercise needs to shift. Everyone’s body is different. What works for one person may not work for another. I do not think striving for a “goal weight” or certain size is a realistic (or healthy) way to live your life.
From personal experience and those of my friends, diets that require you to restrict intake drastically, or cut out entire food groups lead to hangry, anxious, and frankly, less fun people who end up bingeing on the foods they’re supposed to cut out at the end of a tough day. In my opinion, dieting is not sustainable, and will leave you feeling frustrated and defeated. It has got to be a lifestyle change for YOU – not a boy, not a girl, not for a trip, a season…you get the idea.
That’s where 80/20 comes in. For me, this is what works. Do I have off weeks, where it is more like 20/80? 100 percent. & guess what, I am FINALLY okay with that. Why? Because I’ve shifted my entire thought around who I want to BE versus letting how I want to look define who I am.
So, what does 80/20 mean? It is so important for people to understand that this does not mean YOLO. It does not mean eating right for one meal a day, free for all the rest of the time. Or deciding you’re going to eat healthy one month, and then let the flood gates open another. It means finding nutrient dense, REAL foods that you enjoy eating, 80 percent of the time. It ALSO means allowing yourself to go out with friends to enjoy a burger and a couple beers on a Friday night, or a marg & some ‘chos for Taco Tuesday.
That being said, even with my 20% meals I strive for REAL (NOT processed), delicious food. A burger with farm raised , antibiotic/hormone/steroid free beef, a slow roasted pork butt taco with homemade salsa, a milk shake made in house with homemade ice cream. droooooollllll. Remember that processed foods are no good for you, and create much more harm than good for your B-E-A-U-tiful bod. 80/20 is a tough transition if you’re used to fast/processed foods (aka JUNK) 24/7. But, it is SO worth it. Starting to really understand what you’re putting in your body, and how it makes you feel, will help you look & feel your best!
Overwhelmed on where to start?
When I first made the decision to make a drastic change to my diet, I started with educating myself on nutrition labels. Limit added sugar, avoid things like hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, things with low protein/fiber content, and things with a longggg, confusing ingredient list (if you are still drinking soda, stop. immediately. if it says diet – it’s even worse).
Start filling your fridge with REAL FOOD, not your pantry with low fat/low sugar diet foods. Start googling things you do not know on labels (it is mind blowing how much s*** is allowed in some packaged goods, especially the ones claiming LOW FAT & LOW SUGAR).
Biggest takeaway here? Fill up on things WITHOUT a nutrition label (i.e. fruit, veggies, lean protein, whole grains, etc.) and for those things with labels, keep in mind the first 4-5 things listed on the ingredient list make up the majority of whatever is inside.
Another huge resource for me was keeping a food journal. Documenting how what I ate made me feel was a huge indicator in what kinds of foods I wanted to increase, and what foods I wanted to avoid. It was also a huge help in holding myself accountable for what I was putting in my body, and sticking to 80/20, not 50/50.
FINALLY, a quick note on the sugar in fruit. PUH-LEASE remember, the sugar content may be high, but it is sugar your body is made to digest. The fiber, and water content in a lot of fruits keeps you fuller longer, and doesn’t lead to the crash that comes with say a soda, candy bar or processed juice. It’s also great for your skin, hair, and overall well being! Plus, it is DELISH & FROM THE EARTH :)!
So, challenge yourself this month of March t0 make a positive change for YOU. Don’t torture yourself, but find your happy place with whole, real foods you enjoy, and then let yourself enjoy the “bad stuff” here and there WITHOUT the guilt, or morning after regret.
Have questions on how to get started? REACH OUT! I’d be so stoked to answer your questions + help you find what works for you!
**Burger, fries & shake pictured are from BlackSheep in Springfield, MO – best burgers/shakes in TOWN!