Dieting with Pareto’s Principle

Scott Young wrote a great tip on applying Pareto’s Principle to your Diet.

Food – Record your eating habits for a week. Calculate up the calories of the different items of food. I’ve done this before and I’ve found it surprising how some treats contribute a high percentage of your calorie pie for no nutritional value, when other vices consumed in smaller portions take up only a sliver but still offer a tasty treat.
Source: Scott Young, Twenty unique ways to use the 80/20 rule

Just in case, Here is Wikipedia’s definition of Pareto’s Principle:

80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes

How do we apply Pareto’s Principle to our diet?

As we have written before, it is much easier to change if you measure what you are changing. To apply the Pareto Principle to our diet, the first thing we need to do is record our eating habits. Of course, in my (totally biased and shameless plug) opinion, the best way to record your dieting habits is to Join Simpleweight and start using our food journal. Record what you eat everyday.

Next, Analyze what you eat. What I mean by analyze is look at reports and look at the times you eat more (or less) food than you want. You will likely find that 80% of your extra calories and snacking comes from 20% of the food you eat. Now, let’s think for a moment.


Is it easier to change 100% of your diet, or just 20% of your diet?
Of course the answer is it depends on your diet, but my guess is that it is easier to change only 20% of your diet.

The Pareto Principle applied: I used to drink 2 liters of Coca Cola a day. That is a ton of extra meaningless calories everyday. What did I do? I cut all pop (or soda pop for some of you) from diet by weaning myself onto Iced tea, Hot tea, and Water. All three are much healthier than pop.

How can you apply the Pareto Principle to your diet?

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