What does the 80/20 rule look like?

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When you start to follow the Paleo lifestyle you may hear some common terms that you hadn’t heard before. One of these terms is the  “80/20 rule”. You’ll hear conversations and statements such as “I don’t eat Paleo 100% of the time… more like 80 percent of the time”.

What does this mean exactly? Does someone somewhere have some formula we don’t know about? Something that can calculate exactly what you can and can’t eat and for how many days or hours? Or is 80/20 rule more linked to specific foods – where 80 percent of the foods you eat are Paleo and 20 percent of them are not?

How does one really know what 80/20 is?

While hearing about the 80/20 rule may be common… it’s clear that the meaning of the rule is not really known. While the exact definition of 80/20 isn’t really known there are some pretty strong opinions on the matter. You will hear from some people that going 80/20 is the only way to stick to the Paleo lifestyle, while others claim eating 80/20 while on the Paleo diet is a complete disaster.

How can people have such strong opinions about something that seems undefinable?

In the end I think it all comes down to you as an individual. What are your goals? What are you wanting this new food lifestyle to do to your life?

For some of us here at Primal Hub the 80/20 rule simply means to not stress the off days. Let’s face it, no one is perfect… and who really wants to be perfect? Perfect can be boring. 80/20 means trying your hardest to eat the right foods for your body and follow those Paleo guidelines whenever possible… but to also not stress so much about food that your relationship with food becomes unhealthy. When you are at a party with no Paleo options, or you want to go to your favorite restaurant with your friends you can do so.

If you want to decide if 80/20 is for you and what that exactly means, do your research, sit down and make your decision. Here are a few great articles to get you started.

Why We Are 20% Not So Paleo

Thinking the 80/20 rule sounds like the way you want to go? The Paleo Mama shares her’s and her family’s story on why they don’t go 100% Paleo and call themselves an 80/20 Paleo family. Read more here.

Why 80/20 Paleo is a Recipe for Disaster

For those that the 80/20 Paleo rule doesn’t seem to make sense take a look at what The Paleo Living Magazine has to say about it and why they feel it’s not the right thing to do. Read more here.

What’s Your Paleo Percentage?

Not sure where you stand with this crazy 80/20 rule? Don’t worry – Robb Wolf isn’t sure about it either. Take a look at what he has to say on what your Paleo percentage really is? Read more here.

20 Paleo Tips From the Experts

Many people who are new to Paleo eating struggle in the beginning. It’s no wonder – coming from a world of eating processed and unnatural foods and switching to all natural paleo approved foods, it can be a bit overwhelming. So for those that are struggling or just starting out on the Paleo lifestyle, take a look at these 20 Paleo tips to help you along your way.

1. Meal Planning.

This one seems pretty simple but it is probably the biggest issue many run into. If you plan your meals ahead of time (I like to do meal prep one week at a time) then you are less likely to go out to eat or fix something unhealthy. Planning what meals you will be eating takes away the stress and time of making the decision after a long day.

2. Meal Prep.

Hand in hand with meal planning is meal preparation. Whether this is cutting up vegetables or meat that you will be using for the week, making breakfasts that you can store in the fridge and grab when you are on the go in the morning. Making sure you are prepared for a meal helps keep you on track.

3. Read Labels.

Being aware of what is actually in your food is half the battle. Sadly we live in an age where sugar or artificial ingredients are added to all sorts of foods. Become familiar with what is good and what is not and read every label. If there are ingredients you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce, then it’s likely that it’s processed and shouldn’t go into your body.

4. Have a Well Stocked Fridge.

It seems simple but – if you have healthy foods in your home, you are more likely to eat healthy foods. Keep your fridge and pantry filled with healthy and real food!

5. Remove all Temptations.

Again it seems obvious, but remove all those temptations! The biggest step you can take towards sticking with Paleo is removing all those foods that go against what the Paleo lifestyle is about. If they are in your house that means you are willing to eat them at some point… if you aren’t willing to eat them, then get rid of them!

6. Phase Out Food Slowly.

If getting rid of everything all at once seems a bit much then try phasing out those bad foods slowly. Start with sugars, then dairy, then beans, then grains… etc etc. Going little by little can make it seem less scary and less daunting of a task.

7. Join a Community.

This is a big one! It’s always easier to stick to something if you are doing it with others. Join some type of community – whether a facebook group or a blog to follow. Become apart of something that can hold you accountable and encourage you when you struggle.

8. Do Your Research.

Read up on the Paleo diet. Get books, read articles, etc. Knowing the ‘why’ helps you keep up on the lifestyle – especially when you get questioned by others.

9. Learn to Cook!

I’m always surprised by people who don’t realize that some effort has to go into eating healthy. You will have to cook so the sooner you learn to cook the better. Practice makes perfect. Experiment with spices and techniques. And of course – make sure to have fun with it!

10. Try New Recipes Regularly.

Many people get stuck cooking the same few recipes over and over again. This can become boring and before you know it you are falling off the wagon because you just can’t have that Sweet Potato Hash again. Set yourself a goal – try one or two new recipes each week!

11. Organize Recipes.

Keep your recipes organized. Whether on a spreadsheet or on index cards… find a method that works for you. When you don’t like a recipe – toss it out. When you do like a recipe make sure to add it to your list, and maybe even add in some notes to remind you what each recipe is like. Staying organized will help you stay on track and have a lot of different ideas on hand for when you are stumped about what to cook for the week.

12. Leftovers, Leftovers, Leftovers.

If you weren’t into leftovers before then now is your time. Leftovers are a great way to eat healthy all day long. Cook a big enough dinner so you have enough to have lunch the next day. This will make it so you don’t have to spend more time prepping and cooking another meal, and also keep you on track whenever everyone else in the office is going out to grab fast food.

13. Learn Your Freezer is Your Friend.

Whether it’s chopped vegetables, meat, or pre-prepared meals your freezer can be a great friend to you. From making crockpot meals in advance for emergency meals or for freezing leftovers for a later day, learn to use your freezer!

14. Eggs for Days!

Eggs are your friends. Make sure to always keep some eggs in your fridge. Eggs are a great and easy way to get a healthy meal in with very little prep, time, or energy. Learn a few different egg recipes to keep things fresh!

15. Snack Smartly.

We all get snacky or hit by that sweet tooth. Making healthy and paleo approved snacks in advance is a great way to keep you from caving to that ding-dong in the vending machine. Whether it’s dark chocolate covered banana bites or your favorite grain free pumpkin muffin, have a few snacks cooked up and prepared around the house is perfect for those days you just need something a little extra.

16. Make Your Choices Before You Need To.

Eating Paleo doesn’t mean you can’t socialize or go out with friends. Just make sure to have your decision about how you will eat or drink before you go out. If you want to take a little cheat and have a drink with your friends, that’s fine – just decide how much or little before you go out. Make your choices before you are presented them to your face can help you stay strong and not feel like you are giving up on things, but rather choosing not to eat or drink them.

17. Get Others on Board.

Whether it’s your family or roommate, getting someone else you know personally on board can be a great help. Plus if they are someone you live with, getting them on board can help with getting rid of those unhealthy foods that might tempt you.

18. Change Your Wording.

It may seem silly, but the mind has a lot to do with how we eat. Stop phrasing it as a ‘Diet’ and instead think of it as a ‘lifestyle’. Rather than saying ‘I can’t eat that’ instead say ‘I’m choosing not to eat that’. Simple things like this can help you stay positive about your choices and gives you the power over the food.

19. Be Forgiving.

Understand we aren’t all perfect. There will be days you struggle, there will be days you cheat or fall off the wagon. It will happen. What you need to make sure doesn’t happen is that just because you aren’t perfect means you throw in the towel for good. Get back on board and start again!

20. Just Do It!

If you have been thinking about it but still haven’t gotten on board now is your time. There is no better day than today. Don’t wait until Monday, don’t wait until after the holidays… just do it. Just start so you can be a healthier version of you as soon as possible!