80/20 Rule: Eat to Live

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule? Originally called the Pareto Principle, this theory can be applied to many different areas of your life...and it might just be the secret to losing weight and actually keeping it off. Here's what you need to know. 


This notion began in the early 1900s, also called the law of the vital few, it was discovered by Vilfredo Pareto that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people. This rule has been applied to business and has many other interesting interpretations. 

However, one of the best things you apply this rule to is your eating habits. There's many ways to apply this. Some experts say that if you focus 80% of your efforts on healthy eating and 20% on exercise and physical activity, you will lose weight.

Another newer interpretation is focused solely on eating. Think it this way, focus 80% of the time on eating healthy, moderation, making great choices and 20% allow yourself to indulge in the foods and drinks you enjoy. 

When we talk about prevention, the key is being able to maintain a lifestyle that applies to bigger health goals and longevity. There is no quick fix when it comes to losing weight. 

Try not to get caught up in your circumstances (out to dinner with friends or office happy hour) but focus more on the choices you make. Do you just have 1 glass of wine or 5? Do you get an appetizer and entree, or just a simple, clean dinner and have that glass of wine?

It's often the small choices throughout our day that over time make the biggest different on our health. A healthy lifestyle is truly achieved by the sum total of all your choices. Daily decisions and habits are what make you lose weight or create a healthy lifestyle. 

The good news is, each day is another fresh day to get started. The rule to start with is moderation. Yes, you can indulge in a piece of cake if you want but you cannot have it every day. 

The key is to strive to have most or 80% of your choices be healthy. Concentrate on eating clean (a.k.a. from the produce aisle) most of the time. You will notice a difference in how you look and feel. We often put unrealistic expectations on ourselves until the next company picnic or work friend's birthday party. Don't create a scenario where you aren't living, but be mindful of each choice you make 

Consider this rule for your physical activity as well. If you travel or have visitors, it's easy to get knocked out of your routine. Don't let "life" get in the way of your routine. Remind yourself how good you feel after that run or swim. Make an effort, even if it's just for 20 minutes that day.

The 80/20 rule is a lifestyle rule, not a fad. It's not a diet but a way of life. Each day, work towards having more of your choices be for your health. Those who have made this lifestyle change often have sustainable weight loss. Rigid diets are not always better.