The 85-15 Rule For Healthy Eating

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The 85-15 Rule For Healthy Eating

My wife made these chocolate chip cookies last night. For those who don’t know, my wife makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole world. She just let them torture me. She fills the house with aromas, then puts the cookies on the cooling rack and says, “Eat me now.” (It’s true. I can hear them.) They’re never satisfied. If I eat one, the others start yelling, “Eat us too.”

I love food. I like all kinds of food. The problem is that I’m also very health conscious, and it turns out not all the foods I like are healthy. I don’t think I’m alone. How do we justify our (sometimes uncontrollable) urges to eat delicious foods that may not be “good for us” while staying true to ourselves when it comes to eating healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

While treating many patients in my weight loss clinic and teaching many others to eat healthily, I developed the 85/15 diet. It goes like this. 85% of the time we eat to survive. We need something to eat in the morning so we can go to work. We have a snack around 10am. We have lunch around noon. The day goes on and we eat because we need nutrients and energy to survive.

Another 15% of the time we eat for social reasons. We may go out to dinner with friends, or we may be invited to a party. Or my wife makes cookies. We don’t eat to survive, to refuel, or to stay healthy. During these times, we eat because we want to, because it tastes good, or because we are socializing.

If we, as individuals and as a society, can learn to eat only healthy foods “85% of the time,” we can solve obesity. And we can still get something to eat now and then. If our food choices provide us with good nutrition and energy 85% of the time, it doesn’t matter what we eat the other 15% of the time.

I believe this is the secret to solving the dilemma of being a “health fanatic” and still being able to experience the occasional “bad thing”.

My healthy eating plan includes the following components:

fruits and vegetables. Eat at least four servings of fresh fruit and vegetables each day. Also, I try to change the color of these items. Each color represents a different nutrient. Therefore, try to eat green, yellow, red, orange and purple foods to get a variety of nutrients.

If eating four servings of vegetables a day is difficult (and sometimes it is), juicing can help. I’m a big fan of juicing and feel so much better when I do. It’s hard to eat a whole bunch of raw carrots, a cucumber and an apple in one sitting – but it’s easy if you’re juicing the same produce. Make sure to buy a quality juicer – a cheaper juicer will only frustrate you more.

protein. I’m also a big proponent of eating more protein and less simple carbs (sugars). We need at least 1 gram of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. I recommend more protein: 1 gram per pound of body weight. Do this and keep your calorie total the same and see if you don’t start losing weight, gaining lean muscle mass and losing fat. Inevitably, if my weight loss patients stop losing weight, it’s because they don’t get enough protein in their diet. Your diet should contain at least four servings of protein per day, including meat, protein shakes, protein bars, nuts, dairy, or any other lean, healthy protein source.

water. Make sure to drink enough water. I don’t believe that, like some others, you need to constantly carry around a water bottle and flood your kidneys. Our bodies have evolved an amazing mechanism to keep us from becoming dehydrated. It’s called thirst, and you should listen to it. But instead of reaching for a soft drink — or some food — when you’re thirsty, drink some water and see if you want something else. You probably won’t.

vitamins. I also think you need some kind of multivitamin supplement. They are inexpensive and easy to carry. And there’s good evidence that they can help prevent disease. You can get these in pill form, as part of a protein drink, or in various other forms.

timing. Eat six meals a day. Last week I told you to eat like a 2 year old. They graze and eat small meals throughout the day instead of three large meals. It also makes sense for adults. It helps you better balance insulin and other hormones. It keeps you from getting really hungry, which means you’re more likely to eat nutritious foods instead of high-sugar foods.

So go ahead and splurge once in a while. As long as you follow a common sense eating plan 85% of the time, you don’t have to feel guilty. Today I ate four servings of fruits and veggies, took vitamins, protein, and drank a lot of water. I think it’s time for another cookie.

Reprinted with permission from Total Health Breakthroughs.

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