The 80/20 Rule: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist. This is simply how I choose to eat based on my current goals. Maybe it will fit for you and maybe it won’t, but it’s another option to consider when figuring out what works best for you.

If you’re unfamiliar, the 80/20 rule looks like this: 80% of the time do it right, 20% of the time do whatever you want…since 1989, I’ve lived by the motto “I do whatever I want”, this just happens to be a part of the greater plan of what I want. I use this rule as my guideline for my day to day eating, it allows me the freedom to keep track without being a slave to counting calories and constantly thinking about every morsel of food that I consume.

They say you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. I say, have your cake (or in my case, ice cream) and eat it sometimes. For too long, I would be so limiting in the foods that I ate that my indulgences would come in calorically dense foods like almond butter…it became the Frank’s Red Hot of my diet…I put that shit on everything! Nutritionally valuable? Yes. Calorically dense? Unfortunately, yes.

So, I researched and I tried things and I found that when I don’t restrict myself from having the things I want, I want them less frequently. 80% of the time, I eat super clean (read: no gluten, no processed foods, no sugar, just REAL FOOD) 20% of the time, I eat whatever I want (read: ice cream, chocolate, gluten free treats, ice cream, margaritas, wine and cheese). And 100% of the time, I am very aware of my activity levels and how much I really need to maintain my energy and feel really awesome, because that’s what it’s all about for me anyway, feeling really awesome and having the energy to do the things I want to do.

Let’s do a little math…each week I eat 21 meals + 14 snacks (3 meals per day + 2 snacks per day) of those meals + snacks, 28 will be clean, while 7 will be considered a cheat meal or a treat. So, maybe I want a cheat meal or treat every single day…I could fit that into my eating, but more times than not, on a weekend night I might have wine and cheese followed by dessert, using 2, or even 3, of my allotted 7 cheats or treats. The next couple of days, it’s likely I’ll keep my food super clean and to be honest, I probably won’t want another cheat meal or treat for a few days (unless I overdo it and the sugar hanger takes over, then it’s the actual worst trying to avoid the things my body thinks it needs because sugar addiction is real…) Have your cake and it eat, too; but not the whole cake and not all the time.

It’s super important to have awareness of what you’re eating, how much of it is clean and nutritionally dense and how much of it isn’t… also, if you haven’t read my post “You Can’t Out Work A Bad Diet” now is a good time to review it.

4 thoughts on “The 80/20 Rule: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too

  1. Veronica says:

    Hey! I love your blog and your class at SC! Just wondering, why do you choose to limit gluten from your diet and save it for treats/”cheats”? Do you have an allergy/sensitivity or is it a personal choice based on research indicating it’s better to minimize it, like your sugar addiction post?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. samscaffidi says:

      Hi Veronica, I actually limit gluten from my treats or cheats as well if it’s available, opting for gluten free choices. I would call it a sensitivity or intolerance, nothing diagnosed and not celiacs disease, but after cutting it from my diet, I feel significantly better & my body works more efficiently!

      Thanks for reading! Hope to see you soon!


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