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:
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!