80/20 rule

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule in eating? Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine follows it and has being promoting it to her clients. She feels that it helps to improve one’s relationship with food.

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What is the 80/20 rule in eating?

80/20 rule is basically eating nutritious foods most of the time but having occasionally your soul foods or treats.

80% of the time, the person takes foods that are labeled healthy and nutrients dense. But 20% of the time, the person indulges in treats and pampers himself or herself. But it is overall a healthy diet. And doing so is said to improve relationship with food.

Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine told the news outlet Insider that she follows this rule. Further, she also advises her clients to follow it while eating. She qualified in 2009 and since then, she has been adhering to this pattern of eating.

80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule (Source: DMoose)

Nichola said that no food is good or bad. One should not restrict foods because doing so leads to intense cravings, binge eating and weight gain. After this follow a whole series of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes type 2 etc. In these cases, our relationship with food is deranged. But the 80/20 rule re-establishes a good relationship with foods.

In eating, the type of foods you eat is important. But at the same time, portion size and frequency of eating a particular food also matters a lot.

Nichola’s eating pattern

Nichola pointed out that one is allowed to have soul foods 20% of the time provided the person consumes nutritious foods for the remaining time. These include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean protein. She revealed:

I eat chocolate every single day,”

“Just not a family-sized bar.”

Nichola explains that food is not only about fuel. Eating is linked to pleasure as well. Hence, soul foods might not give us as many nutrients as healthy foods but it does provide us with immense pleasure to cope with life’s hardships. But she keeps a goal to eat at least 30 different plant foods in a week.

What foods Nichola keeps in her kitchen?

80/20 rule
Carrot sticks with hummus (Source: Tasty)


She has these at breakfast. She drizzles some honey on them and adds toppings of nuts and berries on them. They keep her full until lunch and are known to lower blood cholesterol.

Mixed nuts and seeds

These foods have healthy fats and protein in them. One can snack on them or add them to cereals such as oats. Nichola said:

We should be aiming for 30 different plant-based foods throughout the week,”

Studies have shown that such a diet can improve gut microbiome and boost health. And nuts and seeds can also be part of these 30 plant based foods of the week.

Seeded bread

At lunch time, Nichola’s favorite is toast with avocados, tomatoes and eggs. And her kitchen cupboard always has seeded bread in it. Multi-grain bread is a good option since it has more dietary fiber and improves gut and overal health.

80/20 rule
Seeded bread (Source: BBC Good Food)

Hummus and carrots

Nichola usually does not have afternoon snacks. But if she feels hungry, she eats carrot sticks dipped in hummus. Other alternatives are Greek yoghurt with berries or oatcakes with nut nutter and bananas.

Also, read What is beige diet? Is it healthy?

Chocolate and cookies

Nichols has three major meals in a day. But she admitted to having a sweet tooth. If she gets sweet cravings, she eats bitter chocolate after lunch. And if she feels to have some thing sweet after dinner, she eats apple crumble and custard or maybe a chocolate cookie.