Do you struggle with guilt over the "treats" you have eaten or that you feed your family? Do you feel like you are drowning in guilt because of the sweets you ate on special occasions? The 80/20 rule is your life preserver and I'm throwing it right out to ya!
You may not realize it, but you are not alone! Many people feel guilty because they indulged in dessert, birthday cake at the party, pecan pie at a holiday meal... The list is endless!
Since I have transitioned my family to a traditional diet (although I continue on the GAPS diet), it can be very challenging to keep all foods kosher, so to speak. Maybe I should clarify what I mean by kosher - I mean healthy, real foods which are nutrient dense and that are prepared in traditional ways.
When I say "prepared in traditional ways" I mean soaking grains, seeds, and legumes with kefir or lemon juice so as to minimize phytic acid. Another traditional method is fermenting foods with the lacti-acid fermentation which improves gut health*.
Basically, it means that I prepare our meals from scratch using wholesome ingredients the way our great-grandmothers would have done.
A lot of work? Yes, it can be!
Worth it? Definitely!
The 80/20 Rule
I was greatly relieved when I read the work of Dr. Weston A. Price and his 80/20 rule. Basically, Dr. Price said that as long as 80% of your meals were healthy and nutritious, 20% could be left more or less to chance.
While I could easily use the 80/20 as a cop out, it has actually alleviated unnecessary guilt on those occasions when I choose to allow my family to have "treats".
Some of my special occasions include birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, weddings, family reunions, holiday parties, and special time markers.
For example, when we finish pruning the vineyard (it takes a month to completely hand prune it) we have a doughnut party. While our doughnut recipe is about as healthy as you can get, the icing does contain sugar. I can substitute raw sugar but honey is just not the same.
For those of you who began your journey with traditional foods earlier in life, maybe you don't have this problem. But, for me, we already had older children who were used to sugary treats especially during the holidays. You know, the recipe that your mother made and is now part of your family's tradition? It's hard to stop serving those recipes when your children request them for their birthday meals!
There are some foods you eat because they just plain taste good, they are comforting, and they bring back good memories!
So, I have given myself the freedom to follow a healthy traditional diet for the family very closely 80% of the time, and 20% of the time, I can loosen up and have more flexibility.
In case you are wondering, if you eat 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, that would work out to be about 4 meals a week that can be more flexible when it comes to the nutrition scale.
We are a healthy family and eating birthday cake once in awhile or a dessert made from a family recipe is not going to have a significant impact on our health - as long as I provide nutritionally dense foods the majority of the time.
The 80/20 Rule gives us the freedom to eat with those around us and enjoy special occasions WITHOUT the guilt.
A word of caution though - don't let the 20% part of the 80/20 rule slowly grow and get out of hand! Remember, about 4 meals a week can be flexible in the nutrition department!
Interestingly, Dr. Price did see amazing results in school children who ate a nutritious lunch according to his recommendations but still ate their nutritionally poor diet at home. The children stopped getting cavities and began healing!
This happened even with having less than 80% of their diet made up of food that was nutritionally dense. I don't know about you, but that is amazing to me!
Is the 80/20 Rule for Everyone?
Does the 80/20 rule apply to everyone? No, I don't think so.
Stay with me here because at first glance, this might seem like a silly question. But, think about it - there are a couple of exceptions for folks that should not in any way use the 80/20 rule.
These are 2 categories of people I would say, the 80/20 rule should not be used for:
- Someone on the GAPS diet who is in the process of healing their gut. It is important to stick strictly to the diet. After all, it is a healing process meant for the short term. That healing process can be prolonged if the diet is not followed.
- Someone with food allergies, such as peanuts, that can cause life threatening reactions should not just throw all caution to the wind and eat the offending food.
What do YOU do with the 80/20 Rule?
The underlying key is commitment. Commitment - to health, a healthy lifestyle and to caring for your body in such a way so as to maximize your potential.
If you are a Christian and believe that your body is the temple of God, that fact alone should make us want to do the best for our bodies and take care of it!
But, I know it is difficult to eat real, traditional food 100% of the time. I want to encourage you that sometimes, allowing ourselves and our families special treats give that little oomph we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Sometimes feeling deprived of a certain food makes us crave it even more. We often eat more of it than we would have if we had just indulged once in the 20% and then stopped stressing about it.
Health goes beyond what we eat. There is more to life than just eating healthy.
Don't get me wrong, our bodies need REAL food for fuel. But, living life (not just existing) is about more.
I am going to use the 80/20 rule to allow my family special dishes and desserts once in awhile - without feeling guilty about it!
Give yourself the freedom to use the 80/20 rule with your family! Enjoy some flexibility without beating yourself up afterwards. Just don't forget to renew your commitment to good health and a healthy lifestyle.*If you are interested in learning more about traditionally prepared foods, check out Nourishing Traditions available from my affiliate.