By now many of you understand that eating 70/30, or 70% plant based foods and 30% high quality protein is the cornerstone of The Omni Diet. But some of you may still need an introduction to the 90/10 rule, which is introduced in phase 3. Many people get anxiety when they initially think they will never ever taste another bite of grandma Rosa’s home made pasta. Let’s face it, that’s not realistic, or much fun!
For her 10th birthday, my very independent, strong willed daughter informed me that she would like to have a party with her friends at a local cupcake store where you can have just about any kind of cupcake you can imagine and get to decorate it yourself. I offered to have a party at home for her, but she was insistent that she didn’t want chocolate kale chips this year. I couldn’t imagine why not! We have a rule that I control what we eat at home, but my daughter gets to make her own choices (within reason) when she is elsewhere. So far, so good – she makes pretty healthy choices. But cupcakes! I cringed and attempted to ward off the myriad of negative thoughts that were taunting me… “What if someone sees me?”, “I have failed as a mother. I can’t even get my own daughter to eat kale chips for her birthday”, “This is the gateway drug that is going to lead to her destruction”. Then I politely told my self to please shut up and I got over it!
This is where the 90/10 rule comes in. I wrote about 90/10 in my book, “The Omni Diet”. The idea is to follow your healthy diet 90 percent of the time, but to allow yourself some leeway the other 10 percent of the time. That doesn’t mean you can go all out and binge on the foods that got you in trouble in the first place – especially the sugars and trigger foods that can set off cravings you may not be able to control.
I’m strict about my own diet because I’ve learned over time that straying from it can literally make me sick. My personal rule is that I can have three bites of the birthday or wedding cake, and stop there. It’s important to know if you have food allergies or sensitivities and avoid foods that make you sick. Most people won’t get sick if they decide to eat a sweet dessert once in a while, or have a piece of cake at a party, but under these circumstances, it’s good to have limits you can live with. This is why I suggest following the 90/10 rule.
Giving in to cravings occasionally isn’t the worst thing in the world, but many women see it as a huge personal failure and blame themselves for being less than perfect. Nobody’s perfect and being less than perfect is not a good excuse to give up or fail- it’s just an excuse! You don’t have to torpedo your diet because you strayed from it. Just get back on track.
The 90/10 rule gives you the freedom to make food choices that may not be ideal when you’re traveling, attending a wedding or birthday party or when you forget to pack your lunch and can’t duplicate what you’re accustomed to eating in a restaurant or nearby deli. You have to make the healthiest food choices available. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t, and it certainly doesn’t mark you as a failure.
A word of caution: I do not advocate setting aside an entire day every week to blow your diet and eat anything and everything you see. I’ve seen people plan for a week, then eat up to 5,000 (!!) calories of sugar and fat in hours just because they’ve designated one day a week for that purpose.
Before my daughter’s birthday party, I called the cupcake place and ordered a gluten-free cupcake for myself. I took three bites and threw away the rest. Believe me, I wasn’t always this way. In the early days of my diet, I couldn’t take even a bite of any kind of cake, pastry, or doughnut for many months because it would trigger major cravings. I knew that if I indulged, I would soon find myself hiding in a dark corner of a doughnut shop, licking frosting off waxed paper!
Now, after years of clean eating, I find that if I take a bite of cake, I have no desire for more. You can get to that place, too: stick with the 90/10 rule. It will help you get there.
As for my fear about my daughter sliding down the slippery slope to sugar hell? Well, the next day she informed me, unsolicited, that she planned to prepare several healthy dishes (including desserts) for a second birthday celebration for the family. On her own, she prepared Omni Pumpkin Bars, Red White and Blue Salad, Chocolate Covered Bananas (sugar free).