Professional Opinion

Professional Opinion: Taking a break from healthy eating — when is the occasional “slip-up” one too many

Lydia Wickenhoefer is a clinical dietitian with Beaufort Memorial Hospital
Lydia Wickenhoefer is a clinical dietitian with Beaufort Memorial Hospital Submitted

This week, Lydia Wickenhoefer, a clinical dietitian with Beaufort Memorial Hospital, discusses healthy eating and when a “slip-up” becomes one too many.

Question: I often eat — or at least try to be mindful of — a healthy diet throughout the week, but occasionally on the weekend, I may “slip” from this routine and have an extra dessert or one of my favorite meals such as a cheeseburger with fries. I tell myself the important thing is to try to get more of the healthy foods I need, but when does this “weekend eating” or slip-ups become too many?

Answer: It’s great that you are aware of what you are eating. A healthy diet is key to a healthy lifestyle. But the word “healthy” can have different meanings to different people.

Have you ever heard the saying “You are what you eat?” Well, it’s true.

Foods that are higher in fat and sodium have the tendency to make us feel sluggish and hungry more often. “Healthy” foods keep us full longer, promote digestive regularity, and don’t weigh us down so much.

Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and lean proteins are the main components of a healthy diet. “MyPlate” — or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines for Americans — is a great resource for knowing how to keep your diet balanced. You can find this free resource online at

But remember that moderation is key. Everyone is human, and we have the tendency to fall off the straight and narrow every once in a while. Even dietitians splurge. A good rule of thumb to remember is the 80/20 rule.

The 80 represents the percent of time or foods that should be healthy. The 20 represents those “slip-ups” or “splurges.” This could be 80 percent of your meals at one sitting, throughout the day, or even during the week, that should be healthy foods.

So if you are using your 20 percent time on the weekend, that is completely fine.

Just make sure to balance those extra calories with increased physical activity. Registered dietitians are also available throughout the community and are an excellent resource if you need more help in creating a personalized program.

Mindy Lucas: 843-706-8152, @MindyatIPBG