By Elizabeth K Dawson, MES

Undoubtedly, almost all of us have taken on new eating habits at some time or another.  Sound familiar?  The big promises cut down on junk food, veto sugar, potato chips, soft drinks, beer, wine, cheese… sigh, the list goes on.  Particularly around the New Year, we tend to take on big dietary changes in hopes of increasing health, managing weight, reducing stress, or having more energy.

Now, to be clear, these are often great changes!  Of course it’s good to take a look at all the excess bits and bites that filter into our day-to-day food, and make some changes towards more nourishing choices.  But, I’m also quite aware that as the days and weeks pass by, it becomes more difficult to maintain them if we are too strict.

Making a Shift to the 90:10 Mindset

100% Clean Eating is almost certainly a recipe for “failure” and frustration.  Truthfully, no one wants to be that strict – it’s no fun at all, and not even very good for us!  Being ultra strict can zap the life and enjoyment out of eating delicious food, and add undue stress or feelings of guilt.

To combat this and gain positivity, consider your eating habits as 90:10 – 90% clean, delicious and healthy, and 10% bonus, guilt-free extras.  This will help you fully enjoy all the good, healthy changes and will certainly lead to good, balanced and improved health!

90% Clean Eating – Remember, healthy food choices can be absolutely delicious, so focus on making the most of it!  Try new recipes and ingredients, good quality produce, or increased home-cooking.  Meat-eaters may want to try a few more vegetarian meals, or choose higher quality, local meat that was raised humanely.  This 90% forms the building blocks of feeling great, so make it good!  …and thank yourself for it.

10% Bonus – This creates room for you to respond to cravings and not feel completely deprived of certain foods that you desire (deprivation will lead to binges).  If you find yourself craving a certain food, consider why that might be happening, and try to build it – or a better version of it – into your occasional treats.

  • Tip for the 10%:  Make it high quality, consider the portion size, and take the time to enjoy it.

What does 90:10 look like?

What it looks like depends on what suits each person.  Experiment with what kind of treats are most satisfying to you and in what quantity.  Keeping in mind that we tend to eat 3-5 meals or snacks per day, does your 10% look like any of the following?

  • One treat every 2-3 days
  • A glass of wine on Friday night
  • A small piece of chocolate every evening
  • Dessert on Sunday
  • One chocolate chip every hour (This is a real life example of someone we know!)
  • 2-4 treats per week
  • French fries 1-2 times per month

Remember to consider the quality and quantity of the treats that you choose.  Make it good, and surround it with clean and nourishing foods.