I have already wrote about the 80/20 rule in more than one of my previous posts, but with all the questions I get regarding this subject I feel it's worthy of a post all of its own.
What is the 80/20 rule?
Basically it's a percentage and guideline of your eating pattern, 80% of the time you are sticking to the rules of a primal diet and 20% is to allow for any not so good quality foods.Sounds simple right? Well there are a few things to consider.
1 - Are you at your goal that you set out at the start of your lifestyle change? If yes then the 80/20 is probably going to be more applicable to you, if not perhaps have a little more caution. Every time you do drift into something that isn't primal then you could be setting yourself back more than you think particularly if you are just starting out. If you are just starting the journey you are trying to reset your body, reducing your blood sugar levels and insulin secretion and allowing your body to start burning fat as a primary fuel source. At the same time getting off your underlying addictions and habits. Any little cheat can push you back in these early stages,remember that the fastest route to a destination is a straight line any veering off course slows down your progress.
2 - What is 20%? Is it 20% of your weekly intake or 20% of each meal? Putting it in those terms we can see where some confusion can start. If it was each meal you really are not moving in the right direction. Even considering 20% each week can be flawed, let assume 3 meals a day, that gives us 21 meals a week, so allowing us 4.2 cheat meals. Not sure if that is really sticking with the plan. 20% is really open to interpretation You should also consider that the 20% should also be used as a fallback for when you are not sure of ingredients or if the salmon you ordered in a restaurant was cooked in a good oil or was it more than likely cooked in a vegetable oil of some kind. Its really there for the unknowns.
3 - Where you are regarding your health? If you do have a health condition using the 20% rule could be more detrimental to you. Are you diabetic, do you have thyroid issues or arthritic conditions or even food intolerances? If you do it's probably a good idea not to drift off course by any degree, you are trying to repair your health before anything else so much more is riding on your level of commitment.
4 - Don't use the 20% as a hard fast rule that you must use. It is there as a fall back safety net, not a planned cheat day on a friday night because you have been good all week. A friday cheat can lead to a full weekend of cheating, the "I'll start again on monday" syndrome can easily ruin all of your good work. One treat often leads to another.
In summary, 100% commitment is clearly the the best option whatever your goal, no slip ups, cheats or rewards for being good. But it is the real world and things do come up so use the 80/20 rule wisely. 90/10 would be a better target to aim for but still remembering to use it as a fallback and for the unknowns. Find your own sustainable level of commitment, everyone is different, what works for one doesn't always work for another. If you can get away with 4 cheats a week then great, just don't lose sight of why you started this journey, and be aware it could be holding you back from your true potential and there may be some other issues further down the line.
I hope this helps clear things up, if not then please contact me with your questions