Following a healthy diet every day is hard work. The hard work comes from consistently practicing the changes you made to your eating habits, day in and day out. However, follow a new eating pattern for long enough (generally longer than 28 days) and it will become a new habit for you. It likely will even become enjoyable for you. But occasionally life happens and you’ll be tempted to splurge from your usual eating patterns; this is normal. Allowing for some treats in a diet can encourage consistency with your eating goals over the long term.  Are all foods created equal? No, but there is room for less nutritious foods in your diet as long as most of your daily intake consists of nutrient dense foods. 


80-20-1You can think of practicing balance in your diet as following the 80:20 rule.  This means 80% of your daily calorie intake is from nutrient dense, minimally processed whole foods. These food choices should come from all the food groups making most of the food you eat healthy and nutritious. The 20% allows you to indulge a small portion of your daily calories on less nutrient dense foods. The 20% is often called splurge foods or indulgences, usually somewhere between 100 to 300 calories. The 80:20 rule encourages balance in eating and helps support consistency in following a healthful diet over a long period of time


Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 3.06.54 PMShopWell uses a stoplight system to help users practice balance in their food choices. Green signals that the food is a strong match for you based on your Goals and Preferences. Yellow signals that the food is not the best match for your goals but you can still have it as part of your daily diet just use caution and watch the portion size. Red signals that the food is a poor match for your health goals. However, Red doesn’t mean you can never eat that food again. Rather it tells you to moderate how frequently you eat that food. For example consider having the food items that get Red score on a weekly, not daily, basis. Even foods that may score Red on ShopWell can have a place in your diet; it just isn’t a prominent place. To see how your shopping cart scores, scan your food items and add them to your Shopping List on ShopWell. Now look at all the foods added to your list and look at what color they were given. If your list is mostly green food choices, a few yellow food choices, and one or two red choices then you are on the right good track.


Following a healthy diet and making nutritious food choices on a daily and weekly basis is hard work. Thereare hundreds of food products available to you when you shop the grocery store and not all of them are a good fit for your health goals. Make sure that most of the food you buy is nutrient dense, a Green light on ShopWell to be sure your choices match your eating goals. You can practice the 80:20 rule with your shopping cart, 80% of your food should be green and 20% of your food can be yellow and red.