The problem with most diets is there’s a huge emphasis on depriving yourself. It’s all totally focused on cutting out those “bad” foods which puts you into a state of lack.
It’s hard to accomplish ANYTHING from a state of lack. When you’re in this kind of state it tends to prime you for feelings of defeat, which leads to giving up, which leads to you standing in front of the freezer at 2 AM reaching for the pint of Ben n Jerry’s as the perfect pairing for your Netflix binge.
So what if we flipped the approach to improving your diet on its head?
In the program where I am studying for my Holistic Health Coach Certification, they teach a concept called “crowding out”. Basically what this means, is instead of focusing on cutting so-called bad things OUT of your diet, you focus on adding good things INTO your diet.
By adding these good things in, you are naturally leaving less room in your diet and lifestyle for the bad stuff.
And what generally happens when you start putting more good things into your body is…it craves more GOOD things.
Think about it though…
When you are taking care of your body by fueling it with good things and exercising regularly etc, you feel good.
I don’t know about you, but it’s not often that I finish up a great workout at the gym and immediately want to stuff my face with chocolate or nachos. Generally, it makes me want to keep that good, clean feeling going with something as nutritious as it is delicious.
The beauty of crowding out is it works with these natural tendencies to build upon themselves and reshape your lifestyle in a way that is gradual, sustainable and in alignment with your goals.
Where To Start?
Simple: Start with eating more veggies.
There are about a million different dietary theories out there. Opinions can differ greatly over issues like eating animal protein, caffeine consumption, dairy, whole-grain, grain-free etc…. But one thing pretty much everybody is in agreement on is that more veggies in your diet is ALWAYS a good idea.
One of the best things about veggies that makes it a great starting point is how much VARIETY you have to choose from.
Not into peppers and kale? No worries! Snag yourself some broccoli and onions or whatever makes your mouth water. Begin experimenting with different spices as well. The flavor possibilities are just about endless in the veggie kingdom.
A great way to begin exploring your options is at a local farmer’s market. (Bonus: When the food is grown locally it’s likely to be grown in season.) Chatting with the growers about their favorite recipes that incorporate their crops is a great way to get ideas for how to expand your palate.
Don’t know where to find a local farmer’s market? That’s okay! Head to a grocery store and find the produce clerk to get your questions answered.
There’s no wrong way to do this, guys.
Explore Healthier Alternatives
Let’s face it, cravings are a real thing. Mine usually take the form of salty/savory, though I do get the occasional sweet tooth that flares up as well.
If chocolate is your poison, try dark chocolate instead.
Or if milk chocolate really is your jam, check out my favorite milk chocolate with sea salt and caramel HERE. (This thing is so freaking yummy… and it literally intercepts the message for cravings in your brain. Fancy, huh?)
If salty and crunchy is your go-to, maybe try switching out plantain chips or beetroot chips for the conventional potato variety.
I’m a huge fan of these Thai Sweet Chili “Harvest Thins” myself.
One of my go-to snacks though is good old-fashioned popcorn drizzled with some healthy fat (organic olive oil), and sprinkled with pink himalayan salt and nutritional yeast for an extra, cheesy flavor kick that’s vegan and packed full of Vitamin B. I like this one.
Be Kind To Yourself and Honor the Process
Remember that when it comes to making lifestyle changes, it’s a process and one that you’re in for the long haul. It’s not a matter of flipping a switch and having everything about your diet being different instantaneously. It’s about making teeny little micro-adjustments and building on them little by little.
So you have a couple cookies? Who cares! Don’t beat yourself up over your choices. Just accept that you’re a human who’s going to want some sugar once in a while and make better choices moving forward.
A good guideline for diet (or anything in your life really) is the 80/20 rule. This basically states that if you’re doing something “right” 80% of the time, you’re going to get the lasting results you’re looking for. It’s one of my favorite ways to implement new habits in my life without beating myself up in the process.
What are some of your favorite healthy swaps for the junky things you crave most? Did you find this article helpful? Let me know in the comments below.