“OK this is my last cookie/brownie/pizza/glass of wine (insert your favorite indulgent treat here). I better get it in now because tomorrow it’s all lemon water, cayenne and celery juice. OK, now THIS is the last one. After all, it’s my last hurrah for a while..”
Does this dialogue sound familiar? Splurging followed by deprivation? Detox to retox? Binge and purge?
For some people, cutting out the sweets and following a strict diet can work. But not for most people. Most people confuse healthy eating with restriction and deprivation, and reaching short term goals (fitting into “the” dress, the high school jeans or seeing a certain number on the scale).
But what if you looked at it differently? What if, instead of thinking of what foods you have to give up, you started focusing on nourishing your body with wholesome foods that taste good, too? This way, you’re not constantly trying to summon the willpower to say “no” to certain foods (which will eventually feel good, by the way). Focusing your energy on getting in the good stuff is such a more positive, proactive way to tackle your nutrition. Focusing on nourishing not depriving, fueling not fasting is such a more powerful mindset. The more you fill yourself up with nutrient dense whole foods, the less room there is in your diet (and tummy) for unhealthy or processed snacks.
The mindset of “crowding out” focuses on the positive changes you’re choosing, not the junk food you’re missing out on. The idea of nourishing your body with health-boosting nutrients like coconut oil, avocados, whole fruits and veggies and superfoods like chia seeds, goji berries and maca powder makes healthy eating exciting. Focusing on the positive additions to your diet can make switching and maintaining a healthier lifestyle so much more doable. When you change your food patterns by adding wholesome nutrients, your body will thank you for the extra vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you’re getting.
You also get to reset your palate from craving less healthy “foods.” We’re built to like sweet and fatty foods because of their high energy content, which at one time promoted our survival during times of food scarcity. Big companies know this, however, and engineer modern “foods” to have added sugar, which they know is addictive. If you don’t already read labels, really start looking at added sugar and you’ll find it’s everywhere. Think of the potato chip commercials, “you can’t have just one.” You better believe there’s a whole team of food scientists backing up that claim. In fact, many of the current executives of big processed food companies came from the tobacco and alcohol industries; they are experts in creating, packaging and advertising addictive substances.
So by adding in more whole, natural foods you should reset your palate to identify naturally occurring sugars, and the fake stuff will start to taste, well, fake. Research suggests it takes 10-15 exposures to acquire an appreciation for “new” foods, like the bitterness of kale or sourness of citrus fruit. Plus, the less sugar and unhealthy fats you consume, the less you’ll crave them (if at all). You may long for the feeling of those comfort foods, but even that is powerful information: what lies beneath those cravings is often a whole lot of food psychology, which is a topic that deserves a blog post of it’s own.
So how does one practically apply the concept of “crowding out?” In small habits that you build over time.
1.) Start with a nutritious breakfast: I LOVE my morning superfoods shake, which packs 31 superfoods, prebiotics, probiotics, protein and enzymes. It gives me more energy, slashes cravings and helps me sleep better. It also aids in weight loss and satiety. Your first meal sets the tone for the day and can set you up for an upward spiral (ie one good choice begets another good choice). Other options include Greek yogurt (again- check the sugar! Yogurt can pack as much sugar as a soda) with berries, seeds and nuts or a hot or cold chia pudding.
2.) Eat a side salad with (or as) your lunch. Mix greens with oil and vinegar, or if you can’t part with your sandwich, add in tomato, arugula or avocado to your standard sammy.
3.) Get your water on! Keep a pitcher with water and fruit, carry your BPA free water bottle with you, add mint, add citrus fruit, add (certified pure therapeutic grade) essential oils, do what you have to do, but get your daily water in! One half your body weight (lbs) in ounces per day is a good place to start. If you’re consuming caffeine or alcohol, you need to drink equal parts in water just to break even.
4.) Pack snacks. A dear friend of mine carries a mini cooler instead of a purse, and I have snacks stashed everywhere. Nuts, protein balls, fruits, raw chocolate, you get the drift. Pre-cutting veggies will save you when you’re hungry and want something crunchy. I keep almond butter nearly everywhere as well.
5.) Have a cup/bowl/smoothie of bone broth. Immune boosting, gut healing, filling, the list goes on. For all the benefits of bone broth please read here.
6.) Experiment in your kitchen. Salmon, avocado (the possiblilities are endless there), brussel sprouts (roasted with homemade seedy honey mustard or a sherry reduction), sea vegetables (good in soup), kombucha (so many good probiotics!).
7.) Slowly replace staple foods with healthier versions. Swap brown rice or quinoa for white rice (or even better – cauliflower rice!), ghee or coconut oil or canola or vegetable oil.
8.) Spice it up! Grow your own or stock your spice rack. Turmeric, cinnamon, a million types of pepper, curry, Chinese 5 spice, garam masala, cardamom. Extracts are great here too (and can totally change the flavor profile of your shake).
9.) Make your own desserts. Use dates, bananas, applesauce to replace white refined sugar. You can even sneak in veggies like greens and zucchini, and can replace some flours with chia seeds or almond meal. Download the Green Kitchen Stories Dessert App for tons of delicious recipes.
10.) Replace chips or popcorn with nuts when you’re craving something salty or crunchy. Studies found that people who eat a handful of nuts everyday lived longer and healthier lives than people who don’t consume nuts.
Did we miss anything? Let us know your best crowding out tips!
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