December 14th, 2009
by Jodi · Filed Under: Nutrition
I know you have heard the saying: 80% of your results come from 20% of what you do. Well I am going to redefine this for you today in terms of dieting so that you may look at a different way of enjoying the cheat meal.
Last post I defined a cheat meal for 2 scenarios: a brand new person to the world of clean eating and a not so new person to the world of clean eating. Both situations involved “being good” all week long so that you may enjoy a meal or dessert once a week that is completely off plan. I want to make sure that I point out that in all forms of dieting I always assume that your week is full of variety so that you never feel deprived and you are not limiting your nutrients. It is imperative that I emphasize that because that can get lost in translation as I go through this series. You will not survive the diet game if you deprive yourself endlessly with no variety in site.
As you mature in the way you view your food, yourself, your relationship with food, you will begin to loosen up on your “rules” you had set out for yourself in the beginning. Almost all of us have gone through the same cycle some time in our lives: deprivation àunhealthy relationship with food àgive up dieting à start again à ease up on self negative talk à learn how to be one with food àsuccess. You may be in the beginning of this cycle, you could be at the end or you may have repeated this cycle more than one time. No matter where you are, you are trying to achieve what is referred to as balance or moderation. These are elusive terms that conjure up pictures of blissful days just co-existing with a chocolate cake on the kitchen table that we only had a small slice of…one time…and didn’t pick at it…at all…not even once–kinda.
Balance can truly be achieved. It is not fake. It does exist. You achieve it through the 80/20 rule: the diet pros way of incorporating a cheat meal into their diet.
Let’s say for ease of understanding and math that you eat 5 meals per day, evenly divided, with 3 components in each meal. The components could be protein, starch, fruit or veggie or protein, fat, fruit or veggie or you fill in the combination that suits you. Using this meal set up, four meals per day would equal 80% of what you eat for the day. If I apply the 80/20 rule to this picture, this would mean you fulfilled your good eating for the day by meal 4 and can technically eat something not-so-on-plan for the fifth meal. This would also mean that you could do this every day and still reach your goal depending on what your goal is and how long you have been dieting.
As you continue and feel comfortable with what you are doing, you can do one of two things: either tighten the rule to 85/15 or 90/10 or you can keep it 80/20 but tighten the food choices that you deem as cheats. Either one will move you through any plateaus that you may encounter and still keep you feeling in control of your diet and your progress. The idea here is that you have something when you want it and you avoid the never ending up down up down of dieting via deprivation. The more you feel at peace with this idea, the easier it becomes for you to follow it and then to begin to change your overall choices so that there is very little difference between your not-so-on-plan meals and your on-plan meals. This is balance.
In my years of dieting folks I have realized that, we as fitness professionals, can only sit back and watch this cycle play itself out. It’s like watching your teenage daughter go through all the dating trials you did and there is not much you can do to stop it. In fact, you don’t really want to stop it because the learning she will do because of it is precious you just want to minimize the damage. This is the same here. You must find your way through what works for you diet-wise, but in an effort to help you through the cycle as unscathed as possible, us fitness professionals pen these articles for you. The learning is essential but the suffering is optional. Glean as much as you can from those that have dieted before you—it really helps.
What does a day like this look like you say? As always, it depends. But how about a person who is pretty comfortable with where they are in their physique goals and their eating patterns and may travel for work? Meal 1 eggwhites, oatmeal, fruit Meal 2 cottage cheese, ¼ sc pp, 1T Pb Meal 3 ground turkey, big salad w/ fixings, dressing Meal 4 protein shake, veggies w/ hummus Meal 5 Has dinner out. Does not attack waitress on how to make food, has a starch maybe but is not worried about it so much and just enjoys the meal. No processed food but might have a light sauce on it or maybe it is not just grilled—the point is, there is enjoyment here. Next day, no guilt or worries—starts all over again. That is one way to do it. There are so many more but you need to experiment to find what’s right for you. The take home message here is that you need to begin to trust your instinct, allow yourself some slack and begin to look at this as a life long journey instead of a season of dieting.
Trust me, I know it is hard.
But when you finally give yourself a break and try this, you will be so happy that you did.
Next, alcohol. We will wrap it up after that with how this all really looks when we put food to it. Woop woop!:o)