health

"I tried this healthy eating by numbers theory and suddenly everything makes sense."

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve not been on some sort of a ‘healthy diet’ in the last 15 years.

Sorry to open with such a downer – it’s not great, but it’s true. I’ve spent most of my adult life so far trying to find a healthy eating plan that I can stick to and that will work long term.

The search for that lifestyle balance of being ‘healthy’ but not sucking the joy out of food and life recently led me to Dr Tim Robards’ healthy eating by number method. That, and Instagram.

Yes, I’m talking about Australia’s first Bachelor, Neighbours star, chiropractor and exercise physiologist.

Robards’ nutrition philosophy is called the 7:2:1 method. It goes something like this:

  • 70 per cent ‘super clean’: a balance of protein with carbs from salad and vegetables, and good anti-inflammatory fats.
  • 20 per cent ‘sensible’: including carbs from minimally refined or processed grains.
  • 10 per cent ‘relaxed’: whatever you like.


If this method sounds familiar, that’s because it is.

In interview and profiles of celebrities or health experts, they’ll often say they ‘eat clean 80 per cent of the time and indulge 20 per cent of the time’. This could look like eating a plant and lean protein-based diet on weekdays, and not worrying too much about what you eat on the weekend.

It’s also a bit vague. For me, that’s why it doesn’t work.

Because I know my mindset can go up and down throughout the working week, simply ‘eating clean on weekdays’ doesn’t account for when I’ve had a bad day and want to order creamy pasta or McDonalds on Uber Eats instead of cooking the fish I defrosted that morning.

ADVERTISEMENT

Perhaps it’s because I’ve grown up with an all or nothing attitude to dieting/weight loss and weight management, but I need more structure and planning to keep my healthy eating on track.

To do so within the 7:2:1 method, Robards recommends breaking down the meals you consume in a week.

If you’re basing your week off three meals a day for seven days, that’s 21 meals.

The 7:2:1 method dictates 15 of those meals are ‘super clean’, four are ‘sensible’ and two are whatever you want.

Using this structure, I planned a week of meals, scheduling in where I thought I’d place the different types of meals.

This is what that looked like:

721-method
Clearly, I am an artist. Image: Supplied.

One week, it looked like this:

721-tim-robards-method
Nope, not an artist. Image: Supplied.
ADVERTISEMENT

I rationalised I could deal with eating a 'super clean' breakfast five days a week, saving a 'sensible' meal for Saturdays (eggs, avocado, fetta and spinach on grain bread) and a 'whatever you like' meal for Sunday brunch because... I love halloumi.

Weekday lunches I alternated between 'super clean' (a big salad with lean protein, roast veggies and protein or a bolognese with zucchini noodles) and 'sensible' (a grain bread sandwich with chicken, ham or turkey and lots of salads).

I tend to skip 'lunch' on the weekends in favour of brunch, so I left those spaces as 'super clean' spots in case I want anything. Dinners were super clean for Sunday through Thursday, Friday night 'sensible' (a tomato based pasta w protein and veggies) and Saturday night 'whatever you like' (dinner out, takeaway or if I'm going out drinking).

Obviously following this method a la the full Tim Robards way, there would be more restrictions and details outlined in the program. The actual meal planning of this method was what I found most helpful. Breaking all these meals down in an almost mathematical way was really versatile and easy to see what I'll be doing that week. If I know I have work or social events on particular nights, I can switch the configuration around.

Because it's life, there will always be times when things don't go exactly according to plan, like lunch provided in the office or a spontaneous dinner, but in the month-and-a-half I've been doing this (excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day), I've noticed positive changes in my mood, energy, sleep and also how I identify when I'm actually hungry.

I also get to fill out the little colour-coded table each week which is rather fun.

If you'd like to, you can find more information about Tim Robards and the 7:2:1 Nutrition Bible on the Tim Robards Method website.

This article is not to be substituted for professional, personalised nutrition advice. Please consult a medical professional before undertaking a new lifestyle change. 

00:00 / ???