Blog Post

The 80-20 Rule

November 20, 2014

Kris Drake, RN, CHPD
“The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.” – Robert Tew

fall dinner place setting

With the holidays upon us, it can be a struggle each day to maintain the healthy habits we have developed over the year. But, the holidays don’t have to sabotage our hard work if we remember the 80/20 rule for food, exercise and life.

The 80/20 rule with food
Choose healthy foods 80% of the time and allow yourself to indulge 20% of the time – this rule allows you some freedom and flexibility during the holidays. One of the most important things to do before attending a holiday party is to eat a small snack so you're not really hungry when you arrive. If you save all of your calories for the party, you will be hungry and likely overeat and feel guilty afterwards. When you arrive at the party, take a look at the food choices and select a small serving of your favorite foods. Don’t forget to include whole grains, fruits and vegetables to fill up on, if they are available.

If you host a holiday gathering, you can use healthy substitutions when baking or cooking to make healthier versions of holiday dishes. Make mini-desserts so your guests can sample several different ones without feeling stuffed. Be sure to have low-calorie or no-calorie beverages on hand as well.

The 80/20 rule with exercise
Only skip exercise 20% of the time. If you want to take a day off from exercise, that’s ok as long as you make it the exception, not the rule. If you find it impossible to fit in exercise with a busy holiday schedule, try fitting it into your work day instead. Invite a coworker to take a walk with you at lunch or on a break. When you go shopping, park farther away from the building and make an extra loop through the mall before you start shopping to burn some calories.

The 80/20 rule with life
Make sure you spend the majority of your time on what matters to you most. What better time of year than the holidays to follow this rule? Remember, it is ok to say “no” to some holiday party invitations this year. Trying to do everything can make you feel out of balance. Allow yourself the freedom to make healthy choices for your time this holiday season.