For years I have been teaching a nutrition principle that I like to call the 90/10 rule. The rule is simple but is designed to help people achieve balance and maintain a healthy lifestyle over a long period of time.
90 percent of the time
you need to eat for fuel
& 10 percent for fun
I would define “food for fuel” as things generally considered healthy; fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, quality natural proteins (beans, nuts, legumes, seeds) etc Remember food should supply us with the nutrients and “fuel” we need to enjoy life. Eat to live not live to eat. Water is also important. “Food for fun” can be defined as things commonly considered “junk food”; like chips, ice-cream, cheesecake, pizza, soda, candy etc. Food is tasty and meant to be enjoyed within reason. We need nutrients from food too, so balance is important.
Some people eat because they are bored, stressed or find comfort in foods. These motives taken to the extreme are usually associated with disordered eating. While there are people on the other end of the spectrum that eat so extremely well that it causes stress if they crave or consume even a nibble of something unhealthy. Perfectionistic thinking or “all-or-none” thinking (usually “type A” controlling personalities or those with OCD) often lends to disorders such as anorexia, bulimia or orthorexia (an unhealthy fixation on healthy natural foods). There was an interesting magazine article I was interviewed for on Orthorexia. Learn more
I believe it is important to allow yourself some freedom and understand that very few foods are “perfectly” healthy. Often a shift in thinking needs to occur to make progress with disordered eating. While a focus on healthy foods is important a healthy relationship with food is more important. We need to change how we view food and get comfortable with the idea that some unhealthy foods can be incorporated in an overall healthy diet. This can be difficult for some people to accept. But the fact is there are very few (if any) perfect foods out there. Usually it takes a combination of foods to make a balanced meal and what is healthy for one may not be for another (a whole wheat veggie sandwich is great for some, but would not for those with celiac or allergies to wheat). So what is healthy eating? The answer is different for everyone depending on what diseases they are predisposed to. Having been a gestational diabetic on insulin I can tell you that controlling sugar is something I have to be concerned with while others with a high risk of heart disease need to watch out for saturated fats, etc…you get the picture.
Over the last 17 years I have been working with people trying to eat healthier, lose weight or excel in endurance sports. I find that those that are extreme (either end of the spectrum) often tend to “blow up,” “cave in” or have “melt downs” where they binge on a large amount of unhealthy foods that they have restricted themselves from when they go on a “diet” or “claim to be a healthy eater” or are “expected” to eat healthy by others. That “binge” is often much more damaging to their health than just allowed a controlled “10% fun” foods incorporated on a daily/weekly basis. This way they don’t feel like they are “boxed in” and can’t enjoy life while still maintaining balance. Being on one extreme or the other just isn’t healthy. I feel to be in the “middle” or “gray area” is far more healthy way to live. Most people enjoy the flavor of “unhealthy foods” but over consuming them isn’t healthy either. So, consuming small amounts on occasion allow people to enjoy life (like have a piece of cake on their birthday) without going overboard.
You might be asking, what is 90% or 10% exactly? How do you measure it? For me, I am not super strict about calculating exactly what 10% of my calories can be used for “fun” food, but I know this can be helpful for some to stay on track. And some prefer to live by the “letter of the law”. If you tend to snack and think little things don’t matter, then you may consider measuring and tracking your food on a regular basis so you can see how all the little things add up but be careful not to become obsessive about calories. Food is meant to enjoyed as well as provide nutrients. Strive to achieve a balance for you.
I also believe not only WHAT you are eating but WHEN you are consuming it can make a significant difference with losing weight. Timing matters. Also, food combinations matter to prevent the feeling of being hungry all the time. If you need help to conquer poor eating habits and achieve a healthy balance please contact me. Individual consultation is available and I specialize in weight loss. All of my programs include custom fitness (don’t worry, you don’t have to run. There are lots of great ways to exercise, and some you may have not even considered). I would love to help you achieve your health goals.
Coach Lora Erickson
Custom Weight Management Program Results: weight lost: 25 lbs, down 9 % body fat and 15 ½ inches
“With the approach of a very significant birthday, the big 50, I was forced to look openly at my health. I had steered clear of fad diets, quick fixes, and the like, trying to keep active and eating sensibly on my own. But somehow those inches and pounds just slipped on. So I did something that I had never done before in my life, I went to a personal trainer.
At first I didn’t know if it was possible to lose all the weight I wanted to, after all those pounds has been on for years. Each week however gave me hope, and I found that it was the small, consistent things that made the difference. I really didn’t make huge lifestyle changes all at once. I wanted to take the weight off, but more than that I wanted to keep it off, so that meant the changes had to be something I could manage and live with.
I was not, and am not a calorie counting person, nor did I want to be obsessive about exercise. I am a mother and grandmother, and I love being very busy with my family. Being thinner couldn’t consume my life. Gradually I started eating more healthily, adding in those fruits, vegetables, water and fiber really helped, and I made time to exercise. I found that good eating and exercise didn’t have to consume my life. I did the best I could eating and exercising, finding that some days were better than others. And slowly the weight, inches and body fat came off while my energy and strength increased.
After 21 weeks, it happened, I met my goals, but it happened to be the holidays. Not the big question was could I keep it off. Lora had always told me it was easier to maintain then to lose, and she was right. With the added busyness of Christmas, I found it harder to exercise and with all those tempting goodies around the house I thought I was doomed. But it was okay, in fact I had to eat more (healthy things that is), to keep my weight where I wanted it.
Now with the New Year, I find that I am right where I want to be. I exercise because I love how I feel when I do, and I eat better because I love how I feel when I do. The added bonus to my better habits has been the improvement to my families eating and exercise habits. It is a change for the better that has certainly been worth it.” ~ J.G. Individual Weight Loss Client
“Lora, having met you and working with you has truly changed my health for the better. My husband and I have pretty much always been healthy people: we eat organic, exercise and try, “try” to find some quiet time to help with the balance of things. Since meeting you, I am more aware of what I put in my mouth. I now write everything down and exercise is a priority, despite how crazy my day gets! I feel better and have learned sooooooo much from you with exercise, healthy eating and just over-all health! You are such an inspiration and I just wish more people knew about you….oh, the lives that you could touch and help change! :)” – K. M.