If you want to lose weight, traditional dieting is probably not the answer. The term “diet” has become synonymous with deprivation. Many modern diets require the dieter to radically change their eating habits, often cutting out a large part of what they would normally eat. Fad diets also tend to demonize one food group or another (like carbohydrates with Atkins), which isn’t necessarily healthful. Thankfully, there’s a way of thinking about making your diet healthier that doesn’t involve depriving yourself. It’s a theory called “crowding out.” Crowding out means introducing new and healthy foods to your diet and using them to replace junk foods until you’re no longer eating as much of those less-than-healthy foods as you once did.
A conventional diet can leave you hungry, and the psychological strain of constantly telling yourself “no” can result in diets being short-lived and ending in binge-eating that can set your weight loss goals back even further. But what if you could tell yourself “yes”? That’s what crowding out is. You allow yourself new, tasty foods that are healthier. The psychology of crowding out is more agreeable to people, because we respond more easily to adding items in than we do to cutting them out.
Next time you go to the grocery store, break your old shopping routine. Many people tend to stick with brands and products that they’ve been buying for years, without really thinking about quality. Visit the produce aisle first. Try some new fruits and vegetables that you normally wouldn’t. Move on to the bread aisle and select a higher-quality loaf of bread than usual. In the frozen food aisle, bypass ice cream treats in favor of frozen fruit for delicious homemade smoothies. It may also be a good idea to buy frozen corn and veggies in place of their canned counterparts to reduce your sodium intake.
Seek out products with ingredients you can pronounce. Choosing items with small numbers of ingredients can also be a good rule of thumb. You may also need to come to terms with spending a little bit more than you normally would, but consider it an investment in your health.
Add these great-tasting, nutritious foods to your diet to kickstart your new crowding-out philosophy!
Avocado: Avocados provide “beneficial fats” to your body, which can help reduce cholesterol and promote heart health. A creamy, hearty fruit, avocado could be used as a salad topper, on sandwiches, in salsas or guacamole, and however else you can think to use it!
Kale: Leafy greens tend to be conspicuously missing from the average American’s diet. Kale is high in fiber and Vitamin A.
Oatmeal: Replace your sugary breakfast cereal with low-calorie oatmeal. Oatmeal contains a special kind of fiber that helps to lower cholesterol.
Unsalted Almonds: These little tear-drop shaped nuts are packed with dietary fiber, nutrients and mono-unsaturated fatty acids. A handful of almonds could make a great snaking alternative to salty chips.
Tea: Replace fruit juices with flavorful tea or iced tea. Most packaged fruit juices contain large amounts of sugar, while tea is a zero-calorie drink (as long as you don’t add sugar or cream!) that’s packed with antioxidants and polyphenols.
These are just a few healthful foods that you can use to “crowd out” some of the less healthy foods that you regularly eat. Think about your current dietary choices and try and decide what fresh, nutritious foods that you can add in. While “deprivation diets” are short-lived, crowding out can be the start of your new, healthier lifestyle.