The diet roller-coaster or yo-yo dieting is all too familiar for so many. We know losing weight will help improve health, but making it happen is another story.
The on-again, off-again dieting pattern is common amongst people seeking a dietitian’s support for their weight loss goals. Their biggest struggle is the constant tug-o-war between eating perfectly on a diet and eating terrible when off a diet. There’s no middle ground where food is eaten for enjoyment.
Many are familiar with the 80/20 (Pareto) principle, which states that generally 20% of your actions will account for 80% of your results. Sometimes the ratio is 85/15 or 90/10, but the general concept holds true all around us each day. In my coaching practice, teaching clients to follow a 90/10 principle allows them tremendous success with sustaining their healthy eating plan.
So how exactly can you use the 90/10 principle to find success in healthy eating?
The 90/10 principle is when 90% of the time you follow your healthy meal plan guidelines closely, while 10% of the time you are free to loosen up and eat what you truly enjoy. Think of the 10% meals as your cheat or free meals.
If you’ve ever witnessed human psychology at work, the minute you tell yourself no more Friday night pizza and wings, every sensation in your body (and the little voice in your head) will whisper constantly “pizza and wings, pizza and wings, pizza and wings!” You can ignore that voice for a while, but not forever.
By consciously allowing the occasional meal of pizza and wings into your diet plan, you create a psychologically less-restrictive feeling that can allow you to eat healthier long term. Take control over that “little voice” using these three solutions to allow the 10% to work for you and not against you:
Eating three meals per day translates into two cheat meals per week. Count how many cheat meals you are currently having, then set a goal to gradually work your way down to two.Watch your portions with these higher calorie meals. Through mindful eating strategies, teach yourself to be satisfied with less. Eating healthy 90% of the time will gradually work for you instead of against you and you’ll eat less of the unhealthy food as your taste buds change to enjoying cleaner, healthier food. It won’t happen overnight, so be patient with the process. Don’t save calories for your cheat meal splurge. Continue to have your healthy breakfast and lunch before you get to your Friday night pizza and wings meal. Saving calories never works. Keep in mind that if you have dietary restrictions (celiacs, gluten intolerance, dairy allergy, etc) you should not include these foods in your 10% meals; these foods should never be included in any meal plan for you.
This week, begin to test the 90/10 principle by planning your 10% meals, which will allow you to stick to your healthy eating plan with greater success.
Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.