How to eat healthy…You don’t have to be perfect

Would it surprise you that the top two New Year’s Resolution’s are “stay fit and healthy” and “lose weight”? In fact 65% of people who make a resolution, choose one of these two resolutions. Of these individuals, less than 10% will succeed. Let’s face it, when we make the decision to lose weight or eat healthy, we jump in full force, with both feet. It’s all or nothing. We last a week, or two, maybe three, then we give in to temptation, talk ourselves into a cookie or two, or a brownie or three. Then we think, “oh well, that’s it, I failed. I screwed up. I might as well make a day of it…I’ll start over next week, or next month. Or, I’ll start on Monday.” What is it about a Monday? We always want to start on a Monday.

What if I told you perfection isn’t a requirement for healthy eating? You can cheat and keep your New Years Resolution. You can follow the 85/15 rule and still be healthy. What’s the 85/15 rule? The concept is that you eat a healthy, whole food meal plan 85% of the time, then 15% of the time you can eat ANYTHING you want.

In the part 1 How to eat healthy…the upside down pyramid, I discussed refined/processed food, such as soda, candy, potato chips, boxed macaroni and cheese, etc… Just as a refresher, these refined foods are considered “negative nutrients.” In other words, these foods are so deplete of nutrients, and so filled with chemicals, that your body must deplete itself of its own nutrient stores in order to digest them.  However, if you eat healthy, nourishing, whole foods, 85% of the time, your body can handle when you eat the refined/processed, negative nutrients 15% of the time, because reserves of vitamins, minerals and enzymes have been built up.

It’s best not to jump right into 85% healthy eating. You’ll want to work up to it. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Track your food, for 3 or 4 days-Don’t worry about what you eat. Just eat normally, without judgement. You’re just trying to determine your percentages.
  • After each food, record whether it’s depleting or nourishing. See my article on the upside down pyramid for tips on distinguishing these two terms.
  • If your diet is made of mostly depleting foods, gradually replace them with a whole food version, until you are up to 85/15. See the table below for suggestions on substitutions:


  • For example. Let’s say you record your meals and snacks for 4 days. You’ve eaten 3 meals per day and 2 snacks per day, for a total of 12 meals and 8 snacks. For the sake of this example, let’s say your 4 days break down as follows:
    • 20 total meals=12 meals + 8 snacks
      • nourishing=4 meals
      • depleting= 8 meals
      • nourishing=3 snacks
      • depleting=5 snacks
    • 7 of your 20 meals were nourishing or 35%. Your diet is currently 35/65. This is actually fairly generous for the Standard American Diet, which normally has percentages of 25/75.
  • For the next week, increase 1 meal to nourishing, or 8 meals are nourishing.
  • Repeat this, over the next several weeks, until you have increased your nourishing, whole food meals to 85/15.
  • Just to crunch the numbers for you. Let’s say you eat 5 small meals a day,  or 3 large meals and 2 snacks a day, 7 days a week.
    • 5 x 7 = 35 meals.
    • 85/15 for 35 meals= 30 nourishing meals and 5 depleting meals. These can be done all in one day or 1 each day for 5 days. Basically, you can break it up anyway you want.

So, you see, you can have your cake and eat it too. At least now you know you don’t have to give up on your resolution simply because you had a piece of cake!

Hopefully, this wasn’t too confusing for you. Leave me a comment, or send me an email if you have any questions.

Featured picture is via Au Naturale Nutrition

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