Opinion: Why 80/20 does NOT work.

When I first started working out and eating healthier 3 years ago, I was introduced to the 80/20 rule.

This rule states that there is a balance of 80% healthy foods and 20% junk foods that you can maintain and still stay “healthy” and still reach your goals.

Of course this sounded amazing to me. Coming from a world where Snicker’s bars, fast food burgers, and cookies were a HUGE part of my life, I decided to embrace 80/20 and run with it.

Like most diets, this style of eating worked for me. . .for a little while. I ate my salads and my grilled chicken and then I lightly gorged myself on cookies or MacDonald’s fries whenever they were in my sight (which was more often that I would like to admit).

I thought I was winning at this 80/20 thing. I started preaching it from the mountain tops like it was the best thing. I started applauding those who embraced it and thought it was totally normal to have “treats” quite often because we (those who embraced 80/20) were eating healthy “most” of the time.

Well, I will start out by saying that the words in the previous paragraph that I put quotations around were the way I saw things. In reality, the treats I was eating were things like a whole bag of cookies or a whole bag of chips. And my version of eating healthy most of the time was 3 healthy square meals interlaced with all of the unhealthy snacks and treats, every single day.

I started realized that my cravings for the not so good foods was out of control and me trying to control it only made it worse.

I needed something different. I needed to cut it all out and live 100/0. Yep, I know this sounds harsh and unrealistic for most people but I think, for some of us anyway, that 80/20 just doesn’t work. There are some of us who can’t stop ourselves when it comes to the cookies, chips, and other treats.

Trying to figure out how to eat just one or two cookies after a somewhat satisfying meal is SO much harder for me than just NOT eating the cookies at all.

If you give me an inch I will literally take a mile. I will justify eating every last cookie and I will even justify the stomach ache. Yep. 80/20 is a something that just does not work for me, the balance of 80/20 throws me off. “Some” becomes more and more and more. “Treats” become just a normal thing. Treats aren’t really treats when you are eating them three times a day and binging on them at least once a week.

So while 100/0 doesn’t work for most people, it works for me. I am one of those individuals who has to cut out all the foods that trigger me want to binge.

I’m not saying that every once in awhile I won’t eat a treat. But, it has to be a special occasion and it has to be something that I can only have one of, like a dessert at a restaurant or a birthday. No bringing cookies into the house that are supposed to last me a week. Nope, that does not work. I would end up eating the box within a couple of hours.

I’m not saying that 80/20 can’t work for some but, in the end, I have to do what works for me and I don’t like the way that 80/20 is promoted as the BEST way to do things. There are some people who just can’t operate this way.

I saw a post yesterday on Instagram that showed a days worth of food on the 80/20 diet. This post had three healthy meals and then two cookies for dessert after dinner. It basically was stating that “you too can make this diet work for you!” and “you can eat healthy and have treats and still reach your goals!”. Um no, and to promote this to the world as gospel is just naive and unhelpful.

People are different and our minds and personalities are wired differently. Some might see 80/20 as this beautiful balance while others might see it as a total prison. I happen to be one of those people who thinks the latter.


Are you a person who follows the 80/20 mentality or have you found that it actually doesn’t work for you? I would love to answer your questions on how I maintain 100/0 or any other questions you might have for me.

Thanks for reading.

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