Lets face it, when it comes to our wellbeing… We would all like to think that we will lead a life of self control, optimum health and total discipline … Those weekend coffees at a café with a cupcake, or the picnic with friends when they bring a baguette,mozzarella and crisps. Going out to a social dinner in the eveningwith a few bottles of wine. What do you say, yes, or no?

For a select few (often working within various health industries themselves) this can be achievable. Knowledge can breed discipline that over time becomes a natural way of life. But for the majority of people this is not quite clear cut, which is where the 80/20 rule can be a great help.

In my experience discipline often has a ‘shelf life’. Many clients come with a health concern and whilst that health concern is significant they are willing to do ‘whatever it takes’. Once the root cause of these symptoms have been addressed and their health improves, it is very easy for people to ‘forget how bad they felt’. As soon as ‘normal’ returns then self control with food can easily deteriorate.

If people try to be perfect all the time, it is generally not sustainable. The 80/20 approach to nutrition is about balance. It is about changing people’s lifestyle and eating habits, not just for a few months until their health issues resolve. It is about a lifetime of optimum health.Most people need to have an element of flexibility in order to have healthy eating habits for 80% of the time.

Of course there are times when totally abstaining from a particular food group is necessary. If someone has presented symptoms of digestive discomfort, for example, and they have a diet consisting of a significant amount of one particular food group, then there is a constructive purpose to an elimination diet for a period of time. Similarly severe migraines maybe triggered by a particular food group. Elimination diets play an important role in Nutritional Therapy, identifying triggers for various symptoms. Adequate support, recipes ideas and meal plans help to make this change possible. Diagnostic testing helps identify biochemical imbalances, allowing more accurate health programmes to be followed. Evidence based nutrition is important both for the client and the practitioner.

Sometimes people may temporarily need to undergo a De-Stress or a Metabolic Detox programme (offered through Valentine Nutrition). During this time, specific foods or food groups may need to be totally eliminated. This kind of programme is designed as a good starting point to boost you toward optimum health.

You may have heard the expression ‘you are what you eat’.

Well this is not actually true. ‘You are what you absorb’.

A few months of having a Nutritional Therapist support you can identify root causes to health problems. Many of these symptoms start in the gut. In order to become what you absorb, periods of 100% discipline can be fundamental to allowing the assimilation of nutrients to be utilised by the body for optimum function. Once function is restored, and new habits are then the 80/20 rule allows us to remember those new found health tips and maintain maximum absorption.

In essence the 80/20 rule is about freedom, flexibility and above all balance. It is also about self control and lifestyle changes. It is about seeing the lasting health benefits and improving what you eat. It’s also about respecting our bodies and consequently the food we put in. But life is also about having fun and letting go. Enjoying times with friends and family. Being guilt free in the knowledge that you know you are healthy, and that you have made positive improvements and change your habits. You can enjoy the 20%, because your scales are tipped towards80% positive balance.

Sara Valentine, Nutritionist

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