I believe the best way to live life is to celebrate it!!!!
By living by the 85/15 rule, we'll be healthy and hopefully reach many birthdays, anniversaries, and other important milestones. We'll also be less stressed about the food choices we make. After all, stressing about food can be even more detrimental to your health than actually eating junk food.
The 85/15 way of eating:
The numbers 85/15 are percentages representing the amounts of nourishing (healthy) and depleting (unhealthy) foods you allow in your diet. It is a method to achieving a healthy state of physical well-being. It focuses on eating a nutrient rich diet, yet also allows for some wiggle room in the diet for unhealthy ”junk" foods like sugary sweet treats.
The theory is that if the large majority of foods in your diet are nourishing, then having a small amount of depleting foods will not do much harm because your body will have ample stored reserves of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. This may eliminate any guilt, feelings of deprivation, compulsions, or stress associated with personal food choices. This way of eating also allows room for exceptions on special occasions and alleviates feelings of social isolation due to diet choices.
Healthy foods nourish your body with precious nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. These come from whole, high quality foods like grass-fed meats, free-range pork and poultry, wild caught fish, organic fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, and healthy anti-inflammatory fats such as olive oil and coconut oil. Your body uses these nutrients for its many functions and also stores them for later use.
Depleting foods are unhealthy because they contain little or no nutrients of their own. In order to metabolize these foods, your body pulls nutrients from its stored reserves. The nutrients are first pulled from the bloodstream, then the body’s tissues, organs, muscles, and bones. Refined foods that are void of nutrients include sugary sweets, refined flours, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and sweeteners, trans fats and hydrogenated oils. Many lifestyle factors are also depleting, such as tobacco and alcohol use, drugs, stress, excessive exercise, and inadequate sleep.
Gradually shift your percentage of healthy foods higher and higher until it is the new norm in your routine. Many people who eat the Standard American Diet may eat a diet in which the majority of foods are depleting, such as 25/75. The 85/15 percentages may be ideal for one person and different for another. When setting a health goal, you can strive to increase the percentage of nourishing foods you eat by choosing better alternatives to the depleting foods. For example, have eggs and avocado for breakfast instead of sugary cereal and skim milk. Improving the quality of your food is also a fantastic change, such as buying grass-fed beef over feedlot meat, opting for organic produce when possible, and switching from refined salt to sea salt.
But what about "everything in moderation"?
The 85/15 rule does not promote moderation, but instead allows making exceptions on special occasions. The theory behind "moderation" is that unhealthy foods are only bad for you if eaten in excess and that balance is key. Where this goes wrong is that sometimes even a small amount of the wrong unhealthy food can do horrible damage, as in the cases of trigger foods and of food allergies. Also, the moderation philosophy promotes using willpower, which you may have experienced, is a losing proposition in the long term. Plus, foods that have been scientifically engineered in laboratories to keep you craving for more are quite difficult to eat in moderation. Like Pringles, "Once you pop, you can't stop."
Frankly, if "moderation" worked, you would probably already have perfect nutrition, a killer body, and wouldn't need this article!
I estimate that I personally eat a 90/10 diet. This was a gradual shift as I learned more about whole-food nutrition. At its worst, my diet was probably 30/70. My standards on food quality now are quite high, and my exceptions are not sweets, but instead when I eat meats that are not grass-fed or non-organic vegetables. (Although, I am very grateful that dark organic chocolate is considered healthy!) Sometimes these are more convenient, cheaper, or food I eat at a restaurant. I find it easy to eat 90/10 because I like to cook delicious food, usually have the time to do so, and I always want to feel healthy and energetic. Many chronic modern diseases such as diabetes and heart disease are caused by a poor diet, which I aim to avoid. I never feel deprived of junk food because I can cook my own healthy version. I never make exceptions for any gluten allowed in my diet nor for the foods I am allergic to.
Track your food for a few days and estimate your percentage of nourishing vs. depleting foods. I challenge you to increase your percentage of nourishing foods for yourself and your family. Let me know how it goes!
Source: Hawthorn University
Jenny Yelle, MHNE Holistic Wellness Educator
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