The Clean Eating 80/20 Rule: Eat Healthy Without Denying Yourself Small Pleasures


While I’m starting to see a changing trend in the latest diets as they become more connected to real-life scenarios in which you cannot remain sane while giving up entire food groups or, at least, those somewhat unhealthy treats you’d like to enjoy occasionally, there are still plenty others which impose such restrictions.

Almost everyone knows what clean eating stands for – adopting this lifestyle means you should focus on eating natural, single-ingredient foods (preferably organic) and stay away from processed and junk foods, especially those rich in refined sugar and vegetable oils (which are practically the worst kind of fat you could ingest).

Enter the clean eating 80/20 rule: don’t mistake it for a diet. When you will see the benefits of this rule you will become a fan for sure. While I don’t usually start with the conclusion I’ll make an exception. The 80/20 rule means you will focus on eating healthy foods MOST of the time, not ALL the time. This would allow you to properly nourish your body while occasionally enjoying some of the less healthy options, regardless if you’re having a sudden craving or they’re somewhat forced by social events.

The Clean Eating 80-20 Rule - Eat Healthy Without Denying Yourself Small Pleasures


How The 80/20 Rule Works

First of all, you should know those numbers are in fact percentages. Eat clean, natural, healthy foods 80 percent of the time, and the remaining 20 percent you can cheat with something you really like and is not the healthiest choice.

For example craving for a piece of chocolate is not a capital sin, you can include it in the 20 percent. Or if you go out with friends, you can eat pizza instead of watching them, with a salad in front of you. Of course, this also falls into the 20 percent category.

Ok, let’s do the math and see what this rule looks like for a week. 3 meals per day equal 21 meals in a week. 20% represent a little over 4 meals, say 4 meals and a snack. Thus, you can have a bigger picture of the 80/20 rule and you can easily apply it to your lifestyle. It is recommended to have those 4 meals on different days. So, on weekends, you can use  your 20 percent, or if you have a special occasion, a birthday, you name it. The beauty is that you can choose when to use your “cheating meals”. Thus, you can have a better control of what you eat, without any constraints.

Others don’t even count meals and use a different approach. Just focus on eating healthy as often as possible and the small “cheats” will work their way into your diet all by themselves. Let’s not forget the modern world we live in, which is full of temptation when it comes to fast foods, junk foods, sugary sodas, candies, cookies, brownies (you get the point).

What’s more important is there’s practically no dieting involved in the 80/20 rule, and we all know, the word diet is enough to make us nervous and feel frustrated somehow. No calorie counting, no weighing food, just allowing life to happen. No food is completely off limits and there is no feeling guilty because you ate something you weren’t supposed to.


Healthy, fresh food

Eating clean, unprocessed and natural foods most of the time will improve your overall health and body functionality. In time, your weight will return to its normal range, your heart will function normally and your immune system will be tougher. All that because you eat nutritious, simple, real food, without stressing over a treat here and then.

Choose a fruit or some nuts for a snack instead of a bag of chips. Don’t buy junk food, because having it in your kitchen means you will eventually eat it. As often as you can, cook you own meals, use local meat, pasture-raised eggs, organic fruits and vegetables.

Balance is the key word when we talk about clean eating and the 80/20 rule. Don’t be afraid to start small and focus on building a healthier habit at a time. It is important to plan your meals but don’t be hard on yourself, be patient and it will come naturally. You should develop a positive relationship with food and adapt this rule to your needs and to your way of life. Very often the nature of our daily job dictates our eating patterns.

In time, you will see how your junk food cravings will decrease. A change of lifestyle is always better than a diet. Although the results may not come as quickly as you want, your efforts will be sustainable.

Are you following the 80/20 rule or did you ever give it a try? Let us know how it works for you in the comments section below. We’re always happy to hear the experiences of your readers!

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