I get a lot of questions about clean eating and people are generally surprised to find out that I don’t eat clean 100% of the time. For me, that’s just too restrictive. Sometimes I go out with friends or date night with my husband and I order what I like and don’t worry too much about how clean it is. When one of my loved ones has a birthday or celebration, I like to enjoy a slice of cake. When I am at home and have complete control of what I consume, I make sure it’s as close to clean as possible. But other times, I just don’t worry about it. It’s more important to me to have a balanced approach to eating and be able to enjoy my food and the people I am around. My general rule is based on the 80/20 principle. I make sure to eat clean and healthy 80% of the time and cut myself some slack on the other 20%. That has worked out really well for me and I’ve found myself eating closer to 90% or more clean most of the time. But I have the space and freedom to have a meal or drinks that I wouldn’t ordinarily have on a daily basis and still consider myself a clean eater.
Let’s look at the math of the 80/20 rule:
Based on 3 meals a day for 7 days a week, we eat 21 meals each week. Add in a snack each day for 7 snacks a week. That brings our total to 28 meals/snacks each week. 28 meals * 80% = 22.4. Therefore, 20% would be 5.6.
This means that if you eat clean for 23 meals or snacks, you are eating 80% clean. That allows 5 meals that don’t need to be completely clean. Obviously, the cleaner you eat, the better it is for your body and your health, but eating healthy 80% of the time is great!
Based on my experience with clean eating, the longer you do it and the more accustomed you become to it, the easier it gets. When I don’t eat at least 80% clean, my body can really tell the difference and I feel sluggish and tired. It’s amazing what a difference food can make!
Not sure how to get started? Here are some great resources to help:
Do you consider yourself a healthy eater? Do you think it’s possible to eat clean and enjoy food or is it too restrictive?