Principle 2: Use the 80/20 rule

Do you know the Pareto principle that lies at the basis of productivity?

It is named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who discovered in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

What’s interesting about Pareto’s finding is that this 80/20 distribution happens frequently. For eg, 20% of your customers generate 80% of your sales. And 20% of your time produces 80% of your results.

How to apply the 80/20 principle to nutrition?

  • 80%: Eat real food (whole foods, nutrient dense): whole grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds;
  • 20%: Have the best of the rest.

I do not support extremes of any kind and food makes no exception. This is why, in my opinion, eating only raw food can be unhealthy unless you know what you’re doing, that is following very strict nutritional rules. So better try to get some balance by following The Diet of the Common Sense Principles.

Use the traffic light metaphor to nutrition:

The Diet of the Common Sense - Use the 80 20 Rule 2 Green – Go green, varied and as much as you want!

  • Fruit: apples, oranges, kiwi, avocado, berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries), mango, pears, melon, papaya, grapefruit, peaches, apricots, clementines, kiwi.
  • Vegetables: red pepper, green pepper, pumpkin, eggplants, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, artichoke, green salad, beet, celery, asparagus, potatoes, basil, parsley, rhubarb, algae, carrots, onion, garlic, ginger, leek, radishes, beans, peas, soy, peanuts, lentil, mushrooms (all types – shiitake, maitake also have some therapeutic value), nuts (almonds, cashew, pecan nuts, pistachio, hazelnuts), sprouts.
  • Whole grains: wheat, rice, maize, oat, barley, quinoa, couscous, whole grains pasta.

The Diet of the Common Sense - Use the 80 20 Rule 4 Yellow – attention, limit quantity (2-3 times/week):

  • Oils: sunflower oil, olive oil;
  • Fish: salmon, tuna, fish code, seafood;
  • Eggs;
  • Goat dairies;
  • Low-fat cheese (cottage cheese);
  • High quality lean animal proteins.

Red – try to eliminate, proceed with caution!

  • Animal protein: cheese, milk, yogurt, junk food, bacon, hamburgers;
  • Other foods: refined breads, fried and fatty foods, saturated oils, sweets and desserts, pastry and processed foods, canned food, frozen meals, biscuits, sugar.

These give lots of calories with little nutritional value.

The protein dilemma – vegetable versus animal protein

When it comes to proteins, consume plant-based protein more often. This seems to align with most of the recent health trends and studies, that prove that a plant based, alkaline diet is your health shield against a wide range of diseases. Apart from this, vegetable proteins (found in tofu, mushrooms, nuts, lentiles, quinoa, beans) seem to be higher quality than animal proteins (found mostly in meat and diary products).

The Diet of the Common Sense - Use the 80 20 Rule 5 What happens to your body when you eat the “red category foods”? They give very little or no nutritional value, you gain weight and they are a source of inflammation to your body – the free radicals that damage the cells and make them vulnerable to aging and diseases.

On the other hand, the “green” category protects your body from inflammation, have a lot of nutrients, energize you and fight free radicals (antioxidants). These are the warriors of your body protecting you and fighting free radicals responsible for cells aging and damage and for most of the diseases.

However, it’s better to eat even the “red foods” from time to time rather than be constantly unhappy with cravings!

When approaching nutrients, use the compound interest principle

The Diet of the Common Sense - Use the 80 20 Rule 3Even small acts, when compounded over time, will result in big changes on the long term. It’s like the compound interest that multiplies your money in the bank in a longer period of time.

Likewise, deposits of healthy habits compounded over time will result in big lifestyle changes given time and practice.

So long term, the 20% of the red foods will not even count, because by eating the 80% of healthy foods daily or on a regular basis you would have made good deposits of health! Also, by restricting the range of the foods you eat (to green and occasionally yellow categories), you become more mindful of what you should eat and have peace of mind that you are eating for your health.

See also:

Principle 1: Start every day with breakfast;

Principle 2: The 80/20 principle;

Principle 3: Adjust portions size;

Principle 4: Remember 5 meals/day;

Principle 5: Sip water all day.

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