The Down To Earth PCOS Nutrition Podcast

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Episode 8: What It Means to Eat 80-20

Hello again, friends!

Today’s episode of Slim & Satisfied takes some of the mystery out of ‘moderation.’ In this episode, I talk about how to get out of that black and white, on or off mindset that is so easy to fall into when we think about moderation. Often times, I see clients who struggle to find a middle ground in their diets. They’re either very strict and never break from their meal plans and exercise religiously, or they admit to eating out every meal, making poor food choices, and avoiding exercise. Occasionally, they’ll ask what difference would one meal make?

To be honest, I can see where they’re coming from. However, the problem isn’t the treats, it’s the frequency. Eating perfectly also comes with its own set of problems. It’s an unrealistic way to live our lives and an equally unrealistic way to eat healthy consistently. There are a few reasons for this: the amount of temptations we face every day puts an intense mental strain on our bodies, we form a resentment for eating the way we are, and it can often backfire. Eating without allowing yourself a break or a treat every so often takes its toll. It can lead to disordered eating patterns, food obsessions, and even binge eating. Being able to indulge without shame is a part of healthy eating, so long as it isn’t too often. In fact, not feeling like you need to totally restrict yourself can be motivating.

I’m a firm believer in the 80/20 concept. Mind you, this isn’t the traditional 80/20 ‘rule’ that you may have heard of before. Rules and food usually do not go together very well. This concept, though, allows for just enough freedom to indulge without getting into a mental battle with ourselves. If we give ourselves permission to enjoy the food we eat, we can establish a sustainable, healthy diet plan. The 80/20 concept works best when we eat in the spiritof it, as opposed to getting bogged down in constant measuring and calculating. It’s all about balance.

When I talk about this 80/20 concept, I’m talking about 80% and 20% of our meals, not time. For example, if a client eats healthy 6 days out of the week, and on the 7thday, goes all-out—I’m talking burgers, ice creams, donuts, and endless treats, this is probably excessive. When we let loose during the weekend like this we’re still technically following the 80/20 concept, but it’s just too much. The main problem here is the time aspect. We’re giving ourselves permission to eat this way as much as we can for a short amount of time, and expect ourselves to go back to our plan the next day. This can be near impossible. It’s ineffective and unsustainable. A full calorie blowout can throw our bodies for a loop. Instead, applying the concept to the food itself serves us in a much healthier way.

An example of this could look like this: breakfast would entail a cup of yogurt with some chocolate chips sprinkled on top, a salad with chicken and feta cheese and perhaps some pita chips on the side, or grilled chicken and broccoli and a sweet potato. Add a glass of wine or a treat for dessert. Even with all of this, you’re still not going to come close to the number of calories in the previous situation. We set ourselves up for success by eliminating anticipation and instead of saving up calories, we can feel more in control of the treats we give ourselves throughout the day. Start gradually with one meal or snack where your treat makes up the 20% to ease into this mentality. Be careful not to let this concept slip into a 60/40 or 50/50 concept, though.

There are some common pitfalls to this approach, so I’m going to lay them out for you so you can avoid them:

  • Firstly, we’re notorious for estimating our portions incorrectly. We tend to underestimate how much food we eat or should be eating. Measuring things objectively for a short period of time can help retrain our brain into what healthy portions look like. Don’t worry, this isn’t a permanent practice. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to eyeball your meals just fine.
  • Secondly, make sure the foods you indulge on are foods you absolutely, unabashedly love. Otherwise, you may look for extra treats elsewhere or after your meal. You want to choose things that you love so much you feel satisfied, and can look forward to getting back on track and finding a place for a treat in your next meal.
  • Finally, and this one is important, pay attention to your body’s response and how you’re feeling mentally and emotionally. What works for others may not work best for you. If this sort of concept is causing some stress, it’s likely not the plan for you, and that’s okay!

What you’ll learn in this episode
In this episode, I explain what moderation really is and how we can make it work for us. I offer up the 80/20 concept, which allows us to spread our indulgences throughout the day in different meals. I expand on this concept by giving some examples of what the right and wrong applications of it look like. Finally, I lay out some common pitfalls of the 80/20 concept and how you can avoid them.

Helpful Links
Episode 5:
Episode 6:

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