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The 85-15 Rule For Healthy Eating
Last night my wife made chocolate chip cookies. For those who don’t know, my wife makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. She only makes them to torture me. It fills the whole house with the aroma and then the cookies sit on the cooling rack saying, “Eat me now.” (True. I hear them.) They are never satisfied. If I eat one, the others just start yelling louder, “Eat us too.”
I love food. I love all kinds of food. The problem is that I’m also very health conscious and it turns out that not all the foods I like are healthy. I don’t think I’m alone. How do we justify our (sometimes uncontrollable) desire to eat something delicious that may not be “good for us” and at the same time stay true to ourselves to eat healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Through treating many patients in my clinic for weight loss and teaching many others how to eat healthy, I have developed the 85/15 rule of eating. It goes like this. We eat to survive 85 percent of the time. We have to have some breakfast in the morning to go to work. We have a mid-morning snack around 10. We have lunch around noon. The day goes on and we eat because we need food and energy to live.
The other 15 percent of the time we eat for social reasons. Maybe we go to dinner with friends or they invite us to a party. Or my wife makes cookies. We don’t really eat to survive or for energy or to stay healthy. At the moment we are eating because we want to, because it tastes good or because we are at a social event.
If we as individuals and as a society could learn to eat only healthy foods “85 percent of the time” we would solve our obesity problem. And we could still have the occasional treat. If we choose items that give us good nutrition and energy 85% of the time, the other 15% of the time it won’t matter what we eat.
I think this is the secret to solving the dilemma of being a “health nut” and still being able to have the occasional “bad” one.
My healthy eating plan consists of these basic elements:
Fruits and vegetables. Eat at least four servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Also, I try to vary the color of these elements. Each color represents different nutrients. So try to have something green, yellow, red, orange and purple for a wide variety of nutrients.
If eating four servings of vegetables a day is difficult, which sometimes it can be, then getting a juicer will help. I’m a big fan of juicing and I feel so much better when I do. It is difficult to eat a whole bunch of raw carrots, a cucumber and an apple in one sitting, but very easy if you take out the same products. Make sure you buy a quality juicer – cheaper ones will only make you more frustrated.
protein I’m also a big advocate of eating more protein and less simple carbs (sugars). We need at least 1 gram of protein for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. I recommend even more protein: 1 gram per pound of body weight. Do this and keep your total calories the same and see if you don’t start to lose weight, gain lean muscle mass and lose fat. Inevitably, if my weight loss patients stop losing it’s because they don’t have enough protein in their diet. Your diet should consist of at least four servings of protein a day, including meats, protein shakes, protein bars, nuts, dairy, or any other healthy, lean protein source.
water Make sure you drink enough water. I don’t believe, as some others do, that you should constantly carry a bottle of water with you and flood your kidneys. Our body has evolved an amazing mechanism to prevent us from becoming dehydrated. It’s called seven and you have to listen to it. But when you’re thirsty, instead of reaching for a soda – or some food – drink some water first and then see if you still want something else. Chances are you won’t.
vitamins I also think it should be supplemented with some kind of multivitamin. They are cheap and easy to take. And there is ample evidence to show that they can help prevent disease. You can get them in tablet form, as part of your protein drink, or in a variety of other forms.
Timing Eat six meals a day. Last week I told you to eat like a 2 year old. They graze, eating small amounts of food throughout the day rather than three large meals. This makes sense for adults too. It helps you maintain a better balance of insulin and other hormones. And it keeps you from getting very hungry, which means you’ll be more likely to eat nutritious foods instead of sugary foods.
So go ahead and do it once in a while. There’s no need to feel guilty as long as you follow a common sense eating plan 85 percent of the time. Today I ate my four servings of fruits and vegetables, took my vitamins, had my proteins and drank lots of water. I think it’s time for another cookie.
Reprinted with permission from Total Health Breakthroughs.
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