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The 80/20 Eating Plan: Enjoying Nachos Without The Shame & Guilt

Nacho Ordinary Health: How to Stay Happy and Healthy While Enjoying the Foods You LOVE!

a restaurant plate of nachos with chicken

Here's what happened last week: I was at an event, having a blast with everyone, when the inevitable question arose: "What do you do?" As we were all looking over the menu, deciding what to order, it was my turn to reveal that I'm a holistic nutritionist. Suddenly, the energy around the table changed as everyone began justifying their food choices or explaining their decisions, as if I were the food police waiting to slap a kale leaf on their plate. Oh how I've been there – I used to be guilty of it too! I'd embellish my usual eating habits or exercise routine, telling tales of quinoa salads and marathon training sessions to fit the "perfect mold" all because I felt ashamed of not living up to the "perfect healthy" standard. But what the hell is that standard, and who even made it?!?!?!?!

But here's the thing: I've come to realize that this phenomenon isn't about people justifying themselves to me; it's about individuals reconciling their own thoughts and decisions around food. There's so much guilt and shame surrounding our eating habits – what we should be eating, what we are eating, and what we want to be eating. These questions, tangled with feelings of shame and guilt, only serve to make us feel worse about ourselves.

"Most people at the table ordered a salad or a "healthy" dish (even those who were talking about a burger) and were shocked when I ordered a 1/2 order of nachos with chicken and a side of guac!"

The eternal struggle of wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle while still indulging in our favorite foods. It's a dilemma as old as time, or at least as old as the invention of kale smoothies and designer ice cream flavours. I used to think that a healthy diet and lifestyle was determined by an "All of Nothing" attitude. This would lead me on a journey of having such a strict diet, that included believing in good and bad foods , being super restrictive of what and when I would eat, and then if I had the slightest slip I'd throw in the towel and grab the first seat on the self destruct train. Once I was on that ride I was indulging in anything and everything that I wanted and would give me that instant satisfaction of feeling good when I ate it. Thus, starting my next downward spiral of guilt, shame, and really self-hate (a story for another blog post!) It took me a long time to find it, then to understand and practice it, but what I eventually learnt, and am here to share with you, is the of wisdom: the 80/20 rule.

But first, let's get real for a moment. The guilt and shame we attach to our food choices. It's exhausting! We're constantly bombarded with messages about what we should be eating, what we are eating, and what we wish we were eating. And let me tell you, that internal dialogue coupled with a side of guilt is a recipe for disaster, both mentally and physically. If we're looking great on the outside, but our soul is exhausted and miserable how long until that starts leaking out to all the other parts of our body

Enter the 80/20 rule, my friends. This little nugget of wisdom is not just a guideline; it's a beacon of hope in a sea of nutritional confusion. The concept is simple yet profound: if you're making healthy choices 80% of the time, you've earned the right to enjoy your favorite treats the other 20% of the time. It's all about balance, my friend!

"Now, before you go running to the nearest drive-thru, or finishing a pint of ice cream every night, let me clarify something. The 80/20 Eating Plan isn't a license to gorge yourself on junk food day in and day out. It's about finding that sweet spot between nourishing your body and nourishing your soul. Life is too short to deny yourself the pleasure of sinking your teeth into a juicy burger or indulging in a decadent slice of cake."

And here's a little secret: even as nutritionist I have my moments of weakness (everyone who knows me is currently nodding their head). Yes, believe it or not, there are days when I swap my meal sized salad for a couple slices of pizza or reach for a chocolate bar instead of an apple. And you know what? That's perfectly okay! Because true health isn't just about what you eat; it's about your relationship with food, your mindset, and how you nourish your body and soul.

Tip #1 - Let Yourself Enjoy Your Food

a delicious beige coloured bowl of laksa soup

When you are eating your food, allow yourself to sit there and fully enjoy it. Admire how delicious it looks, how great it smells, how excited you are to it. When you're chewing taste all the flavours on your tongue. Instead of feeling the guilt and the shame around your food, allow yourself to feel the joy and pleasure that the meal or treat is bringing you.

dani ross eating a hot dog and a side of fries

Tip #2 - Honour What You Eat

If you decide to go out and order a hot dog and fries, or make yourself some chips and dip for a snack at home, OWN IT & EAT IT! What I mean by this, is how often have you ordered something or put something in front of you and the whole time you're eating it all you're doing is things about how you shouldn't be, instead of enjoying it?

Here's the thing the stress that you're causing yourself for this one off meal or snack is probably going to have more of an impact on your body physically and mentally than whatever it is you're about to eat. Remember, if you're focusing on the 80/20 rule you've probably got your other healthy meals and snacks planned. This one meal isn't going to magically add 10 lbs to you overnight or erase all the hard work that you've done, it's when we stress and OVERindulge and throw everything out the window that does. So, eat your food with intention and enjoy it!

Tip #3 - Incorporate the Foods You Love

Throw a little bacon on your salad, order a burger and get a salad instead of fries. Find what makes you happy and figure out a way to add it into your daily routine. I have a sweet tooth that I inherited from my grandmother, so I have found ways to add things like chocolate or maple syrup into recipes so I can feel good, not only about WHAT I am eating, but how that food is making me feel.

Not sure how? Find someone to help you *cough, cough*

a green plate with 7 Food and Soul breakfast cookies

As I mentioned I love sweets.This recipe is not only good for you and filled with ingredients to help keep you satisfied and full of energy, but it also has chocolate, chips, maple syrup to help satisfy my sweet cravings!

Tip #4 - Make Food Fun

Think about when you go over to someone's house for dinner or a party, where are most people usually gathered? The kitchen! Chatting about how your days were, or what's being served. Eat with friends, learn a new recipe, cook together as a family. Let food serve as gift towards community and remember that food should not only fuel your body, but feed your soul too!

two beautiful ladies laughing while drinking coffee and eating cake

This photo is exactly what I mean. This is a photo I took of my mom and sister when I was visiting them last summer. (Yes I know it's not the "best" photo, but it's one of my favourites) because it captures the laughter and fun we had that day. Our whole outing was based around going out for those slices of cake and we enjoyed every bite of them, but we also shared so many laughs together that day.

Tip #5 - Be Kind to Yourself

Change and building new habits takes time, we live in a world where we want everything NOW, and it all fixed yesterday! Think about how long you've been practicing your current habits that have got you stuck in your current situation. Now do you think that it may take a little time to get where you want to go? You're probably not going to do it perfectly (and if you do, please call me and tell me how you did it!) and that's ok. Be kind to yourself, pick up where you left off and keep going. We are all perfectly imperfect!

dani ross sitting on a bench in mexico smiling
So the next time you find yourself torn between the salad and the burger, remember the 80/20 eating plan. Embrace it with open arms and let go of the guilt. Trust me, your body and your taste buds will thank you for it. And hey, if all else fails, just remember: life's too short to skip dessert!

If your feeling overwhelmed and stuck trying to achieve your ideal body image and reaching your health goals, while also trying to figure out balance between your current lifestyle and a healthier one? Let's chat! I'm here to offer you a complimentary, no-pressure 15-minute call where we can explore together how I can support you on your journey.

"Book your call today, and let's embark on this transformative journey together!"


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