While it can be easy to get into a healthy eating routine during the weekday when you’re in school and generally have set times to eat, the weekends and summer have more possibilities for unhealthy eating. Whether it’s a late-night pizza out with your friends, or your family’s annual barbecue with all of the fixings, when it comes to healthy eating, a good philosophy is, “All things in moderation.” It’s unrealistic to think that you’ll ever have a perfect diet. After all, life would be pretty sad without cake on your birthday, a burger on the Fourth of July, or stuffing at Thanksgiving. Food is such a big part of our lives and culture. You should enjoy eating! So how do you eat the foods you love and have a healthy diet at the same time? Simple: Just follow the 80/20 rule!
The 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule is like putting the “All things in moderation” philosophy into a formula. And even if you’d rather bang your head against a wall than do the math, we promise it’s easy to follow. Just make sure that 80 percent of the food you eat each day and week is healthy (fruits, veggies, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins). Then the other 20 percent can be pretty much whatever you want! So if that ice cream is calling your name Friday night after the movie, enjoy it! Just get back on track with a healthy breakfast and lunch the next morning. Following the 80/20 rule is simple and works like a charm for keeping cravings fulfilled and your health in check.
Three Tips for Eating Well During Summer and the Weekends
1. Stay Away From Junk Food, Alcohol, and Drugs: There are certain foods that should be avoided if at all possible, even in the 20 percent of the 80/20 rule. Although you can have junk food like chips, fast-food, and candy in moderation, as you get fitter and start eating a healthier diet, you’ll start to realize that these foods just make you feel blah. So unless you’re really, really craving the stuff, hands off the junk food. And if you do eat some, keep your portions small so that they fit within that 20 percent. Other things that you should avoid entirely are alcohol and drugs. We won’t lecture you here about how bad these are for you (um, not to mention illegal), but try to remember that they’re like the opposite of a healthy lifestyle. Instead of giving you energy and making you feel your best (which is the whole point!), they’ll make you feel worse: drained, tired, and weak.
2. Don’t Cave to Peer Pressure: We know how it can be. There’s a lot of pressure to eat certain foods. Whether it’s being forced to eat a second helping of Aunt Nora’s peach pie or buy a candy bar for the school fundraiser, sometimes we get pressured into eating when we’re not hungry or munching on foods we really don’t even like that much. At the end of the day, you’re old enough to make your own healthy decisions. And as long as you’re eating a healthy diet most of the time (remember that 80/20 rule so that you’re eating the goodies you really have a hankering for!) you can feel confident that you are eating what’s right for you.
3. Eat Your Food, Don’t Drink It: In order to get the most out of your meals—and keep yourself at a healthy weight—it’s best if you eat your calories instead of drinking them. It’s super easy to chug a big soda or a sugary iced coffee or tea and then eat your regular dinner without thinking twice. Those drinks don’t fill you up, and the calories can add up faster than you can say “Justin Bieber.” So avoid the soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, lemonades, and other sweet drinks as much as you can. And if you really, really want them, consider them part of your 20 percent.
While 100 percent juice is a better option than some drinks, we still say eat your food and don’t drink it. So instead of having OJ with breakfast, eat an actual orange. It’ll give you more fiber than just the juice, and you’ll fill up from it. The only beverage that this rule doesn’t apply to is Mother Nature’s best drink of all: water!