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The 20% Rule

Deprivation diets don’t work. Adjustment diets do. Adjustment diets are based on making slight alterations to your food intake and lifestyle that may take a little longer to but last over the long haul, since you’re not fighting against your own physiology and psychology.

So let’s explore the idea of an adjustment – one you can make simply, easily and with little to no sense of deprivation.

From Brian Wansink’s Book, Mindless Eating:

Think 20% less. Dish out 20% less than you think you might want before you start to eat. You probably won’t miss it. In most of our studies, people can eat 20% less without noticing it. If they eat 30% less, they realize it but 20% is still under the radar screen.

For fruits and vegetables, think 20% more. If you cut down how much pasta you dish out by 20%, increase the veggies by 20%.

Most of us can wrap our head around a 20% reduction on our plate. In a short amount of time, that 20% will begin to look normal. After a while, you start noticing the absurdity of overloaded dishes of pastas and meats. It seems like a glutton fest! Proportionate meals still allow you to eat the foods you love, just a little less of it.

Another simple adjustment is increasing your fruits and veggies by 20%. That seems pretty manageable, right? You may have to spend a little more time in the produce section of your grocery store, making sure you’ve purchased a little more than usual. Most of us have some fruits and veggies we like. Load up on them!

Also, experiment with a fruit or vegetable you’re not as familiar with, whether it’s a papaya (with a squeeze of lime on top, very filling and rewarding fruit) or a spaghetti squash (that can replace your pasta.)

Again, we’re switching our focus to one of adjustment and not deprivation – changes you can make today and not really notice. You’ll also feel an increase in your overall energy, as your body operates more optimally when it’s not overly full. You’ll grow used to these healthier revisions and learn to like the overall effect.