I have seen so many people say "Oh, I had [fill in utterly non-Primal food here], but that's okay, it's just part of my 20%." I think that those who say that may be missing the point of the whole 80/20 thing. Here's how I understand it and how it seems Mark means it:
We live in a society where we cannot really avoid the processed garbage (vegetable oils, frankenfat, grain-fed meat) completely, no matter how hard we try. The best we can do is the best we can do. That's not an excuse to go have something completely un-Primal like bread, or birthday cake, or pizza, or Chinese takeout, and say "Oh, it's just part of my 20%." It's really not.
For one thing, doing this frames stuff that isn't food as if it is food. It makes it "an okay cheat." The idea is to stop eating that stuff that isn't food, not to find ways to excuse eating it. It's when you don't have a choice - the vegetable-oil-based salad dressing in the restaurant, for example, or when there is no good Primal option, so you do the best you can by peeling the breading off the chicken tenders and eating them without it. It's not about having a cheat day or a day (or even a meal) when you can go back to SAD eating.
For another, it begins to frame stuff that IS food as if it's a drudgery and a chore to eat it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Primal food is fun. It is filling. It is flavorful. It is satisfying. It's what human beings are supposed to eat.
So please - if you're going to say "It's part of my 20%," make sure that you're not using that 20% as an excuse to eat processed crap as a "treat" or a "cheat." Make sure that the 20% is for stuff you just can't avoid, instead. You'll have a lot more success and you'll feel a hell of a lot better, too. I can almost guarantee it.
Primal eating in a nutshell: If you are hungry, eat Primal food until you are satisfied (not stuffed). Then stop. Wait until you're hungry again. Repeat.
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Four years Primal with influences from Jaminet & Shanahan and a focus on being anti-inflammatory. Using Primal to treat CVD and prevent stents from blocking free of drugs.
Eat creatures nose-to-tail (animal, fowl, fish, crustacea, molluscs), a large variety of vegetables (raw, cooked and fermented, including safe starches), dairy (cheese & yoghurt), occasional fruit, cocoa, turmeric & red wine
I dunno I have to semi dis-agree. I do think that some people over-use their 20% but for having that slice of pizza with a meal out with my friends every so often helps keep me sane and stay on the diet! You still need to live life sometimes!
Thank you for this!
My interpretation of the 80/20 from reading PB and Marks blog etc was as yours...the 20% is for the unavoidable not completely primal compromises we occasionally have to make.
I also read it as a way of forgiving myself and moving on if at any point I do make a less than optimal choice. We should aim for 100% but if for some reason we make a non primal food choice (as we are all fallible human beings surrounded by modern life rubbish choices) , it doesn't mean we have to go on a pizza, pasta and brownie binge and decide we have "failed". It means that the next time we are hungry we can make a good, healthy, primal food choice and chalk the poor choice up to the 20% while going back to aiming for the 100%.
I was confused reading the forums that people seem to plan for the 20%. If we plan to only reach 80% then those fallible moments and unavoidable slips are surely more likely to leave us eating more like 60% primal?
If you see having a slice of pizza as the thing that keeps you feeling sane and living life then it sounds like you aren't enjoying the primal foods you are eating the rest of the time? While I do need to lose fat (rather a lot of it!) I am not viewing primal eating as a "diet" as I know that it is far more than that. It is a lifestyle change that will improve my health and fitness as well as the added bonus of reducing my waist line! Primal foods are delicious and I am having fun experimenting with different spices and sauces to mix it up. My husband is still eating his usual pizza, pasta, biscuits etc but I often catch him looking enviously at my plate and think I am winning him over. Real food has so much more depth of flavour than chemical laden rubbish! yum!
Totally agree, Griff.
Here's the thing from my point of view: Keeping CW food products in the line-up actually keeps you chained to the SAD way of life. It's like sugar/carb addicts, who are 80% primal and don't understand why it's not "working" for them, when the 20% is juice, apples, desserts, chocolate, etc. They maintain their body's unhealthy cycles through their 20%, and even 80% primal (probably also lacking sufficient fat) can't overcome that.
I used to LOVE LOVE LOVE pizza (anything with melted cheese, or what I used to think was cheese, on it). We have events at work where the main draw is free pizza -- really good toppings, the kind of crust I used to adore. I went to three of those things in the last two weeks and Was. Not. Even. Tempted. Not for a second. Holy moses, I wouldn't dream of putting that frankenfood in my mouth.
Had the most important interview of my life (so far) on Monday. We met at a very upscale place. The interviewer ordered a charcuterie(?) plate and bread for nibbles. Two hours of interviewing, and I had water and a small square of pate. Most of the other meats, salami-type slices, were probably okay, given the venue, but I wasn't actually hungry so I took a pass. The pate drew me in because I've been making it at home and wanted to try the fancy stuff! (I did think about putting a spoon into the butter, but managed to resist.)
Don't get me wrong, when I get hungry, I'm often ravenous (usually because I've forgotten about food for 10 or 12 hours) -- still, I am not tempted by things that just aren't food to me anymore. I don't think your body and mind can flip that switch until the 20% changes definition for you, as suggested in the OP.
For folks who can't do cold-turkey, or who have a whole lot of issues going on and have to ease into it, I think the 20% is WONDERFUL... when used to get rid of the "oh I cheated so now I might as well eat a whole carton of [so-called ] ice cream" mentality. And I agree that mostly eating real food and mostly not eating grains, sugar, etc. is better than the average SAD.
But it's not going to get a body where it can optimally balance itself at a healthy size and strength, with truly minimal effort and attention from the owner/operator! I think a lot of posters inadvertently attest to that.
Last edited by beachrat; 01-26-2011 at 04:58 AM.
"If man made it, don't eat it." ..Jack LaLanne
"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are.
If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." ..Richard Feynman
beachrat's primal journal
There was a time a few months back where I would have agreed with you 100%. There was a time where all those bad foods you mentioned to me were untouchable, unthinkable even.
Now, things are different. I don't think of them as that terrible, and I don't want to revert back to that hyper-sensitive lifestyle so, if my friends are having pizza and I feel like having a slice, fuck it.
I don't subscribe to 80/20 or whatever, I'm just 100% me all the time and if I want to eat less than standard food, it's my hot body oh but I will say this, you feel MUCH better health wise when you stick to the PB guidelines, and going off the rail a bit is a reminder of that. I'm not advocating the eating of crappy foods just to feel normal or whatever, forget normal, normal is what has made this nation sick. I'm saying if YOU are okay with your decisions and you UNDERSTAND them, then hey, it's just another day in the life.
(but somebody with serious issues, etc, etc, whatever, disclaimer, do what's best for your health, don't jump off a roof, adopt a dog, don't spoil the movie by adding your own soundtrack)
I think the most difficult part is passing up the free lunches. I had a seminar yesterday and as soon as they roll out lunch I just knew what to expect. Various Wraps with chips, a fruit platter, and a small veggie platter. I just told myself I am not going to compromise today because I don't want to eat that crap. So I walked my butt over to the cafeteria and grabbed the salad I usually get and walked back with it. One of the people at my table asked me where I got the salad. I think free lunches are like those weird little social experiments. They offer them and people think they have to take them and that there aren't any other options. What irritates me the most is that I work for a hospital system and they believe this kind of fare passes for a healthy lunch.