The rule of 80 percent

The rule of 80 percent.

The second nutritional habit that we consider an "anchor habit" along with eating slowly, learning to eat to 80% full

If you can master only two habits in your nutrition, make them these habits. They work together to make a huge impact on your efforts when it comes to nutrition.


It's important to remember that “80% full” is just an idea of eating a little less than you normally would, the exact number is less important than the principle of stopping before you feel completely full.

Mastering this habit is really about two things:

  1. How much you eat.

  2. How it feels to eat that much.

As you practice this anchor habit, you’ll begin to learn:

  1. What portion sizes work for you.

  2. What the physical sensation of being hungry, satisfied, and/or full feels like to you.

In the beginning, you aren't going to know what 80% full is for you, what 80% feels like, or what portion sizes represent that 80%.

That’s part of the process, this habit encourages experimentation and lots of practice as you learn.

Here's one strategy to help you start learning:

  1. Take a bite.
  2. Stop.

  3. Take a breath.

  4. Check in with yourself. How do you feel? Pause to notice.

  5. If it feels like another bite is a good idea, take another bite. And repeat.

  6. If you feel like you might be around 80%, stop.

The second strategy that helps a lot of people is to just eat a little bit less than you are used to eating.

You probably have a sense of how much you normally eat — what size of plate you use, what size of sandwich or coffee you order, etc.

So you can:

  1. Start with what you’d normally eat and then just shrink that a little bit.

  2. Stop eating just a little sooner than you normally would.

Here are a couple of ideas of how to eat just a little bit less:

  • Purposely leaving a couple extra bites of your meal on your plate.

  • Ordering one size smaller than normal.

  • Using a smaller dish than normal.




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