My Food Philosophy: the 80/20 Rule
Hello to my old readers and to the many new readers I have! I wanted to share my food philosophy with all my new readers and talk about something that has been bothering me lately. I've noticed that people are making others feel bad because of their food choices. Yes, I would like the whole world to be vegan and eat healthy foods, but that isn't going to happen overnight. Even though I choose to eat a vegan diet, does not mean that I am perfect, or that I expect anyone else to be perfect.
There's a group over here making people feel bad because they eat fat or oil, then you've got this group over here making people feel bad because they eat cooked food, then you have a group over here who is anti-vegan, then you have this group over here that make people feel bad for not being vegan enough, then there is this group over here who make people feel bad for being overweight. Feeling bad sucks. Often times we just make ourselves feel bad because we hold ourselves to pretty high expectations (of course I'm not talking about myself here!). I'm not cool with any of this.
In order to eat healthy, some restriction may be necessary, but there is no sense in getting up in arms at people who do not eat the same way as you. Every body is different. Some people thrive better on a high raw diet, some feel best on a high grain/starch diet, some people can eat whatever the heck they want and have no consequences (I shake my fist at you! j/k). For most of us what works in our diet changes all the time. What works for you today may not work for you tomorrow, next week or even next year. Unfortunately, many of us are so far removed and disconnected from our bodies that we don't know what works at all. Are you in this boat?
In order to eat healthfully, but remain flexible and realistic in my personal diet I follow the 80/20 Rule. Most of the time my diet is made up of whole foods, no sugar, very little oil, no bread, no alcohol, and of course vegan. That means I keep my home kitchen sort of a temple. I don't buy junk food, ice cream, cookies, fake meat products, or non-organic produce. That stuff has no place in my house because I will just eat it up. I cook and eat most my meals at home. This allows me to feel my best, have energy throughout the day, but still enjoy time out with friends.
So the 20% are those instances when I eat vegan out at restaurants, where I know they cook with more oil, sugar, and salt than I do at home, where I may have fake meat products (like that yummy not-dog and fries below), and desserts made with sugar. It allows me to enjoy myself when I'm outside my house without feeling guilty. And since I'm in good health, that 20% "whatever goes" vegan diet does not lower my immunity or put a dent in my health. I have been living by this principle for the last 9 years and it hasn't led me astray. I haven't had a cold or the flu in all this time.
This is what works for me. People who have serious health conditions may not be able to do the 80/20 rule. People who are new to the plant-based diet could benefit from doing 100% healthy and unprocessed for 30 days to 3 months to detox the junk out. But for those of you who are healthy, who have been doing this for a while, and would like to maintain your good health this might be the way to go.
I've also noticed over 9 years of being vegan the way I feel is caused by an accumulative effect of being a healthy vegan. My health continues to improve year after year. I feel better now than I did 4 years ago, did my first triathlon this year, and feel stronger than I have in years. I've pretty much stopped aging. When I decided to stop drinking alcohol (in 2007) my health improved rapidly and just got better over time. So basically what I'm saying is your vegan diet will take practice and patience. If you don't see the results you would like right away you need to give it some time. And also adjust and experiment with different things. Have fun!
I decided to put some photos together to show my progression. It's very interesting to see yourself in this way. I can't believe it took me 4 years to get my hair this long! I also can't believe I never showed my teeth in photos prior to 2010. Hilarious! Can you guess which one of these years I turned 30? As you can see I got trimmer and healthier after I stopped drinking and continued the 80/20 rule. For me personally I don't feel good in my body when I drink. Some people can get away with it. Today in 2011, I occasionally have a sip of something or a glass of wine (like twice this year). But I feel best when I have none.
This photo was taken at the event I did in Marshall, TX with my lovely cooking class assistant Will just last weekend. I feel like I look younger and more vibrate than I did many years ago. Accumulative effect.
Here's to you and your health! I'm happy I can be part of your healthy and healing journey. It warms my heart that through my own personal journey I can help others on theirs. Don't let others make you feel bad. Be good to yourself and others and you'll be just fine 🙂
May you find bliss, peace, health and happiness in 2012!