The 80/20 Food Rule

The 80/20 Food Rule

In my opinion, the 80/20 rule (it’s actually more of a guideline!) is the only “DIET/FOOD RULE” to follow.. it means:


“If you eat mainly nutrient dense foods (80% of the time),

then you can afford to occasionally indulge in less nutrient dense foods (20% of the time!)”


We all at some point will experience cravings and/or visit social events where high calorie, tasty foods are on offer. This means that eating nutrient dense whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole-grains 100% of the time can be difficult/impossible, and it isn’t necessary for health either; there is no such thing as food and bad foods, just good and bad diets. It’s about how frequently ‘less nutrient dense foods’ such as biscuits, cakes and chocolate bars appear, that’s all!




The 80/20 rule means that you can be flexible with your diet and can live your life with a healthy balance i.e. eating mainly healthy whole foods with the odd indulgence here and there!


Damage Limitation NOT Deprivation is key when it comes to our indulgences.




For example, you may write a healthy meal plan for the week, buy in healthy foods and aim to have 3 healthy meals a day (with 2-3 healthy snacks if needed).. then if a craving hits and you REALLY fancy say a biscuit then have 1 or 2! Just make sure that it’s not 5 biscuits and/or a regular thing, or the rule will end up being 70:30 etc.


This infographic from @CarterGood explains is perfectly:



The key is to AVOID “ALL OR NOTHING” thinking. A slip-up in your healthy eating plan isn’t a problem, but your reaction could be! Instead, pull out the 80/20 rule and go easy on yourself.


Saying “Oh, I’ve already ruined my good eating today. I’ll just eat crap”

is like saying..

“Oh, I dropped my phone on the floor. I’ll just smash it until it breaks.”


Good luck for your goals and remember; if you have a ‘treat’ savour it, enjoy it and DON’T feel guilty about it. Treats CAN feature in a healthy balanced diet but the key is moderation :).


P.S Check out my How to Stay Motivated / How to Stop Over-Eating blog posts for more diet inspiration!


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  1. Ryan
    May 4, 2013 / 8:02 pm

    Amazing piece! Even better bit of advice!!! Thumbs up all round!!

    • Nics Nutrition
      May 4, 2013 / 9:24 pm

      Aw thanks Ryan! I appreciate your comment 🙂 Nic x

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