The 80/20 Rule to Eating Healthy

Eating healthy can seem very complicated. It has taken me more than half a decade of trying out various diets, in order to find the short-cut. Using the 80/20 rule of food choices can help you live so much more healthy without having to stick to ANY certain diet.

The 80/20 rule or Pareto principles can be found in many different fields and nutrition happens to be one of them. It describes that 80% of our initiatives only lead to 20% of results. At the same time, 20% of initiatives lead to 80% of results. Anyone with a tiny bit of logic would try his best to focus on the 20%.

As mentioned before, it took me years and years and many different diets like Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, raw food, Keto, low-fat and drinking 2-3 litres of milk a day. Yes, the latter was particularly interesting. But all this was necessary for me to have enough experience for a simple rule that you can follow.

RULE: Always choose FOOD over FOOD PRODUCTS! (Or at least 80% of the time.)

The rule is as simple as that and yet very complicated. A modern day supermarket looks nothing like the food we were eating 200 or 5.000 years ago. It is filled with packaged products, conserved foods and convenience, lots of convenience. That’s basically the ultimate reason for our problem with trying to eat healthy. We don’t even know what healthy looks like anymore.

Healthy looks like nature. Vegetables, salad, fresh fruit, nuts, meat, fish… As soon as there are more than 3 or 4 ingredients on the back of a package, it has nothing to do with food anymore. It is a food product. 

How can you tell, if something is food or a food product? Here are some easy hints:

  • If it is being heavily marketed to you, it is a food product. Food products create bigger profit margin and therefore are more attractive to promote to you.

  • If it has a lot of packaging, it is a food product. Food products tend to have a lot of packaging, plastic and promotional labels to get you interested.

  • If it looks the same every time, it is a food product. Food products are artificial, food does not look perfect and exactly the same every time.

  • If it lasts longer than 3-4 days, it is a food product. Food products are being artificially conserved. (Exceptions: fermented foods & traditional)

  • If your grandfather does not know it, it is a food product. Food products are rather recent innovations. Food exists for many centuries.

In summary, the most simple way to eating healthy is sticking to the 80/20 rule. When grocery shopping, eating out or having a snack, have 80% food and limit yourself to 20% food products. It is very simple to follow, but not always easy.

Comment your struggles or successes. I would love to know how you feel about this rule.