80:20 Approach to a healthy lifestyle

The 80:20 approach is both realistic and achievable in order to enable individuals to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The principles are as follows:

1. Aim to get things right most of the time

This is where the 80% value comes into the picture. We as humans are not perfect, and we are not meant to be. Everyday we cannot possibly consume the correct amount of the five food groups while eating a nutritionally adequate breakfast, lunch and dinner. This means you should not be too hard on yourself, as long as you are attempting to display healthy eating behaviours most of the time. When meals don’t occasionally match up to the eating guidelines and goals you have set with your dietitian, that is more than okay.

2. Aim for unprocessed foods as much as possible

This matches up to the Australian Guide to healthy eating. Again, if this is something that can be managed 80% of the time that is a positive result.

3. Recognise that exercise also plays a part in the weight loss journey

Exercise is essential however the food you consume is a bigger part of the equation. It is important to also acknowledge that a lot of the battle of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is in your head.

4. Implement mindful eating strategies

Try to eat only until you are around 80% full. It takes around 20 minutes for food to reach your stomach and for your satiety signals to be released to your brain. If you are trying to lose weight, try serving your meal on a smaller plate. Wait at least 20 minutes before having seconds if you are still hungry.


If you don’t think you are ready, that is okay. But to benefit as much as possible from food and nutrition advice, you must be willing and motivated to change.

6. Lastly, enjoy it all.

Learn to love all food, as every meal is an opportunity to nourish your body. If you learn to love the home cooked meals and to enjoy fresh veggies, it is then you will find you won’t need the 20% as much.

Stephanie Blackwell APD