In this post, I wrote about why diets don't work, and how one person's food can be another person's poison.
While that is true, we can all agree that processed foods; i.e., foods from a box or a package, are unhealthy for everyone.
There isn't one universal diet that works for everyone. But everyone benefits from eating real, whole, unprocessed foods.
The foods that we eat become a part of our bodies. It becomes our cells, our blood, our organs, our bones - every single part of us! So then why do we fuel our body with junk foods?!
We can't eat junk food and expect to feel energized, perform well and avoid disease. It simply doesn't happen this way.
Food has a dramatic impact on how we look and feel. It impacts our moods, energy levels, skin, hair, complexion, etc. It's what fuels our bodies. It's what gives us energy.
Instead of focusing on counting calories and losing weight, we should feed our bodies foods that fuel us. How about eating foods that will help us get optimum health?
When we adopt this mindset, we can begin to have a healthier relationship with food. Most often that will lead us to achieve and maintain an ideal weight range, and a lifestyle change!
We can also heal our bodies from any ailments that it may be suffering from.
But when you've eaten processed junk foods for years, making any kind of dietary change can be overwhelming. In fact, it can be downright scary and confusing!
Believe me when I say, I understand! It's definitely easier said that done!
My personal vice has always been chips. Potato chips, taro chips, sweet potato chips - I love them all! And kicking the habit of it is one of the hardest things that I deal with! Yes - I still sometimes struggle with it!
But one thing that has helped me to stop eating junk food is a concept called "Crowding Out."
What is Crowding Out?
"Crowding Out" is the practice of focusing on eating unprocessed, whole foods.
Instead of obsessing about the foods that you are trying to quit eating, focus on the foods that you can eat instead! Particularly new foods that you might not have tried before!
You know how when we're told that we can't do something? And then it becomes the only thing in life that we want to do?
I don't know about you, but when I decide I need to stop eating a food that I love, it becomes all that I can think about! I even dream about it! And sometimes I even feel like I might die if I don't have it (not to be dramatic or anything...)!
So how do I kick chips to the curb?
By "Crowding Out!"
When I focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods, I am able to "crowd out" the bad stuff. Eventually, my kitchen becomes full of real, whole foods, and there isn't room for for the junk stuff anymore.
How I Crowded Out
The first thing I did to "crowd out" was to keep a food journal.
This helped me to become aware of the foods I should stop eating. Doing this helped me become mindful of what I was eating. And why.
As I read back over past journal entries I make a list of foods that I want to cut out - and why. As I did this, I put a lot of thought into what was it about those foods that made me crave it. I always regret eating most junk foods, so why then did I keep eating it?
With chips, some things I noted were:
- I liked the crunch.
- I liked the physical repetitive act of picking up a food and munching on it.
- I liked the salt.
So to "crowd out" I had to find real, whole food alternatives that would still please these cravings.
Here's what I did:
To meet the need for crunch, I made homemade kale chips. Here's how:
- I washed a whole head of kale, then broke them up into bite-sized pieces.
- Put the kale leaves in a salad spinner to drain the excess water. Then let it dry out.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the kale out on it.
- Brush the leaves with oil (I use coconut or hemp).
- Sprinkle hemp seeds over the leaves (I learned this tip from Sarah! It adds an extra nutty flavor and more crunch!).
- After baking I now had a crunchy, healthy snack that satisfied the crunchies and munchies!
To my need for mindless picking, I started snacking on blueberries! Blueberries are tiny and low in fructose so I could eat a bunch of them without overdoing it or feeling guilty about it!
Another food that I wanted to cut back on was sugar. So I did an 8-week I Quit Sugar program. But, but the time I actually started the program,m I had already cut out chocolate and ice cream (another weakness).
How? By "crowding out!"
I replace chocolate with cacao. I made smoothies and other treats, like this one, using with cacao nibs and cacao powder.
While cacao isn't as sweet as chocolate, its similar enough to psychologically meet any need that I had for chocolate.
As for ice cream, I substituted it with frozen bananas! I would blend a frozen banana in my Vitamix (any high powered blender works too!). The blended frozen bananas have the same consistency of ice cream. So after topping it with cacao nibs and nuts, it felt like I was indulging in a huge bowl of ice cream!
Why Crowding Out Works
After making substitutions like the ones I shared above, my cravings for junk foods eventually went away. After a while I even came to prefer frozen banana "ice cream" to the real stuff (because...dairy). My gut thanks me for it every time!
"Crowding out" has changed my palate. It has helped me not to feel deprived. It's helped me open myself up to new foods that are just as satisfying and healthier for my body.
Now its your turn! Will you give "crowding out" a try? What foods will you "crowd out" first?
Be adventurous! Be creative! Make a list and start brainstorming!
Then share your ideas! I'd love to try them out!
Bonus Recipe Just For You!
HI I'M NAOMI!
I’m a Certified Holistic Health Coach who helps people who suffer from fatigue and digestive distress learn how to eat real food and adopt clean living practices for better health energy, and endurance. Why feel tired when you can feel fired up and ready to go every single day?
I love running outdoors, connecting with like-minded people, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with my pup, Coco Pop.