Quick tip: Consider the circumstances
I stumbled upon this thought sometime ago, but I’ve found keeping the concept in mind keeps me on track. So I’d like to share it with you.
Consider this: it’s 10am and you’re at work. You’re a little hungry, which is normal between meals or when it’s about time for a snack. Then, a co-worker brings donuts into the office. Do you have one?
My answer would be no. I’ll get the disclaimer out of the way: I wholeheartedly believe in a balanced approach to nutrition. A healthy lifestyle includes small indulgences in “non-clean” food to maintain happiness, and frankly sanity. However, I still wouldn’t eat the donut in this case.
If this was any other day when your co-worker had not brought pastries, would you still have gotten one? Would you have driven out of your way to intentionally go get a donut? Probably not. You made healthy choices all morning, brought your lunch and are on track to crush today’s goals. So why are you going to let what someone else did impact your success? You are in control of your nutrition choices, the food sitting on the break room counter is not.
Drink some water and move on with what you were doing before you were distracted by the big box of sugar cakes. You’ll forget about them before you know it.
Furthermore, I try to eat well most of the time so I can really enjoy the pieces that don’t fit in the “most”. Do you ever eat something and think “man that wasn’t worth it?” — “it” being the calories. I strive to avoid that feeling. If I’m going to splurge on something sweet, it’s going to be over quality conversation with a friend, or during a movie in the comfort of my home, planned and in-line with what I’m really craving. This notion can be applied to events, too: if you know you’re going to a dinner party, eat well most of that week to allow yourself to embrace whatever delicious items are available in that scenario. Be in control when you can, so that when you aren’t it doesn’t set you back.
The 80/20 approach means eating nutrient-dense food 80% of the time, and enjoying other things 20% of the time. Of course, these percentages will vary based on if you have specific goals you’re working toward, but for maintaining wellness this structure works well for most people. So if you’re absolutely just craving that donut, consider it part of the 20% for that week.
Consistency is key. Stay on track this week: plan your indulgences, and intentionally set yourself up to succeed most of the time