Dieting often means avoiding the foods we crave and replacing them with healthier but potentially far less satisfying options. This approach can bring great results, but it’s not always sustainable to cut out our favourite foods all at the same time.
Gradually crowding out the bad stuff with healthier alternatives offers a more gentle dieting experience, and one with a better chance of success given our natural aversion to deprivation.
So what exactly does crowding out involve and is it easy to implement?
Crowding out the bad foods
Suddenly depriving yourself of the foods you’ve consumed and enjoyed for years isn’t a great recipe for success but if you add in healthier options and gradually crowd out the bad, you’ll slowly acclimatise to a different way of eating.
Good nutrition is vital to maintain a healthy body and mind, so it’s worth taking your time to build good habits and get it right.
Meal plans and shopping lists are certainly worthwhile — they’ll help you carry on when the unhealthy stuff seems particularly tempting. You’ll also save lots of time and feel amazingly organised in the process.
How to use crowding out to improve your health
Increase your fruit and vegetable intake
We’re told by nutritional experts to increase our fruit and vegetable intake for good reason. They’re the foundation of a healthy diet, and the perfect place to start your crowding out experience.
Try fruits and vegetables you haven’t eaten before for a little variety, and increase the amount you put on your plate.
Starchy vegetables in particular will fill you up so you’re less tempted to snack between meals — sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or parsnips, are all ideal.
Find a healthier snack
Snacking can surreptitiously compromise your efforts to diet as it’s so easy to underestimate both the caloric value and the amounts you’re eating.
To prevent this you could try buying or making your own baked vegetable crisps using thinly sliced beetroot, sweet potato, or parsnip, and avoid the high fat content of fried potatoes.
Swap your sugar-laden biscuits and cakes for veggie sticks and a little almond butter, a homemade hummus for a nice savoury alternative, or cashews covered in dark chocolate if you have a sweet tooth.
Get more energy (but take your time with the changes)
It’s important to take your time when introducing new, healthier foods, so you don’t feel overwhelmed and can slowly build good eating habits for life.
It does take a while to build a habit that lasts, but glowing skin, an alert mind, and a healthy body are all worth the wait.
It might be as simple as adding a green salad to your lunch every day, or swapping your pastry breakfast for filling and nutritious granola and berries, but however you decide to crowd out unhealthy foods you’ll soon see changes in different areas of your life.
More energy and focus, and greater resilience to illness, are just a short step away.