Health Is Not A Number

Health Is Not A Number

‘Eat healthy 80% of the time, the other 20% you can do whatever you want’

This is a common principle bandied about in many circles with regards to health and weight loss. Firstly, you cannot focus on your health by hitting a percentage or ticking a statistical box.  Secondly, if people were to believe in this principle, very few actually apply it. Also, the fact that a diet book has now been written based on this idea suggests it should be approached with a degree of scepticism, just another calorie restricting fad.  To start your sentence with ‘ I eat healthy most of the time’ usually suggests that you don’t . I would hazard a guess that if people were really to analyse what they eat  50/50 or 60/40 would sound like a more realistic split. Also, to suggest as long as you eat ‘well’ 80/20, whilst at the same time being overweight, having a lot of stress in your life and not getting enough sleep, you will be healthy is well, daft.

So what is a better approach?

Try to simplify. Relaxation and flexibility in your eating is as important as anything. Do not count your 5 a day. Instead just concentrate on getting bountiful amounts of fruit and vegetable into your diet. Try not to count a fruit juice for example as ‘1’.  Instead, if you can, include as much whole, unprocessed, picked naturally, home grown or local (if possible) fruit and veg.  To me a portion of vegetable is not the size of a small fist, as per government recommendation. A portion is a handful of vegetables, enough to be spilling off your plate. Full of goodness, fills you up, and stops you snacking unnecessarily on ‘junk’ or less nutritious food, too much. Get plenty of protein and carbohydrates in there also, not just at dinner time.

So instead of focusing on numbers, just enjoy eating as natural as you possibly can, the majority of the time.  Lots of things that you can pick from a tree, or pick from the ground.

Eat with friends and family, laugh a lot, get lots of sleep, relax, go out and play.

Then at the end of your day/week, and you would like that glass of wine, or that piece of chocolate, go for it. One of my clients told me she was going out for an Italian on Saturday night, what could she have. ‘I don’t care’ was my response. Enjoy yourself, relax, don’t stress over calories. If she was to eat and drink like that every single night, there may be an issue. However, to eat well as much as you can then let your hair down every now and then (sometimes more) is just normal living.

That isn’t 80/20, 90/10, paleo, low carb, low fat or any other gimmick. That to me is just a fun and responsible lifestyle.

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