10K 80-20 Rule

So what is 10K 80-20?

10K stands for 10,000 years (ago), and 80-20 is the ratio observed in the Pareto principle.

10K 80-20 is a simple rule that you can follow to easily determine if a food item is inherently good for you or not.

First, let’s discuss the 10k rule. It goes like this. You hold a piece of food in your hand and you ask yourself this question “If I lived 10,000 years ago, would this food have been available to me?” If the answer is “yes” – you can eat it. If the answer is “no”,  you need to look around for a garbage disposal and dispose of it. Or better yet, you need not waste your money on buying it in the first place.

Now, onto the 80-20 rule. Where did the 80-20 number come from? It’s actually the Pareto principle, named after and Italian economist who observed that 20 percent of the population in his country owns 80 percent of the land. Then he observed that 20 percent of the pea pods contained 80 percent of the peas. And, so on.

It’s become an almost universal rule and, surprisingly, it applies to almost all areas in our lives. Just ask yourself don’t you wear 20 percent of your clothes 80 percent of the time? Or, when you go to your favorite restaurant, don’t you order from 20 percent of the menu 80 percent of the time? And on, and on. I’ve found that I can safely adapt the 80-20 rule, and rely on its probable accuracy, to our daily diet choices.

So, what does the “10K 80-20 rule” say? It says “If you follow the 10K rule 80 percent of the time (and 20 percent of the time you don’t) it is highly probable that you will enjoy better health than most people on the SAD (Standard American Diet).

It’s pretty simple, right? In other words, if you follow this general rule you will be in a position to reap the benefits of living according to your genetic make up – or rather close to it… but still close enough.

The 10K 80-20 rule is designed to account for the fast-paced lives we live. It acknowledges the tri-fact that: 1) there is no “100 percent” going back to the way we used to live and eat more than 10K years ago; 2) going back isn’t even possible with the world population of 7 billion and growing – current and future demand for food won’t allow it; and 3) complying with your genetic makeup 100 percent of the time (assuming you find a way to do it) won’t get you significantly farther, as far as health benefits and your chances to live longer, than complying with it 80 percent of the time.

This last one is my assumption, but I am convinced that it is quite accurate. Moreover, it allows a person, living a 10K 80-20 lifestyle to still feel like a part of the contemporary human race – a nice side benefit.

So, how does this 10K 80-20 rule apply to the day-to-day life? Here is an example:

Source: wikipedia.com

Source: wikipedia.com


Suppose you have an apple in your hand. You  ask yourself a question “If I lived 10,000 years ago, would this apple have been available to me? The answer is “yes” – means you can eat it (and you should eat it, if it’s your only apple for the day, but that’s another article).

Source: wikipedia.com

Source: wikipedia.com

But, if you are holding a glazed doughnut and you ask yourself the 10K question what would the answer be? It’s a common sense, isn’t it?! A glazed doughnut 10K years ago? You get the idea.

…And, then there is “that” kind of person who will try to cheat by (un)knowingly misinterpreting the 10k 80-20 rule like this: He gets himself a box of 10 glazed doughnuts, asks the 10k question ten times (one for each doughnut), says “no” to eight of them and eats two because they fall outside the 80 percent. This is a joke (I hope).

Any way, you get the idea. I think the 10K 80-20 is a pretty easy way to go about your diet – it’s intuitive, it’s simple and you only need common sense – no special knowledge in anthropology or math.

Like I said near the beginning the Pareto principle (the 80-20 rule) applies in many areas of life. One significant area is the national health care bill – 20 percent of the people, seeking medical care, account for 80 percent of the bill. A significant part of this 20 percent is comprised of people with chronic lifestyle diseases – the biggest offender in contemporary lifestyle being diet – the SAD.

And, how about this: if the discussed 20 percent adopts the 10K 80-20 rule, the national health care bill will decrease with 80 percent. That’s another joke (or is it?).

Now that I think about it, this is a Pareto principle within the Pareto principle, or if 4 percent of the most seriously affected with lifestyle diseases adopt the 10K 80-20 rule, the national health care bill will drop with 64 percent. Even more impressive, no? And, if you think about it – doable, too.

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