October 5, 2016
Last Updated:
March 4, 2021

Why “Crowding Out” is The Healthiest Way to Diet

This series explores the Integrative Nutrition approach to wellness based on our simple yet effective key concepts. Read on to learn about Crowding Out below, and don’t miss Bio-Individuality and Primary Food to truly get a taste for our unique philosophy.  

If you’ve ever been on a diet, it’s likely that one of the first rules included a list of foods to avoid.  Maybe the first day or so felt ok, but as time went on the recommended substitutes probably didn’t make up for the cravings that lingered for the foods you were used to or favored. When such diets come to an end, the most common outcome is a gradual return to old eating habits.

At Integrative Nutrition, we don’t believe that deprivation is a healthy approach to anything! 

That’s why we’ve coined a concept we call “crowding out” to refer to the natural process that happens when you add more of the good stuff  in first.

The more healthy foods you add to your existing diet, the less room you’ll have for junk, and the more sensitive your palette will become to ultimately appreciate a greater variety of healthy ingredients. You’ll literally crowd out  the unhealthy foods until you reach a balanced diet that is sustainable and makes you feel great – even if that still includes an occasional guilt-free indulgence!  

Here’s how this can be applied in practical ways: 

1.  Start by eating more vegetables.
Rather than focusing on what you can’t  have, expand your shopping list to include more of the nutrient-rich foods that help your body thrive, especially vegetables. Experiment with different flavors, colors, and healthy recipes, making note of what you like and don’t like. If you don’t like peppers and bok choy that's ok, don’t force it. But if squash and broccoli taste good, then add those to your regular repertoire while meal planning.

2.  Seek out healthy alternatives to your favorite foods.
Once you start looking, you’ll be amazed at how many foods are both healthy and delicious. Have a sweet tooth? Try dark chocolate or coconut maple cashews instead of conventional candy bars. Like savory chips? Try baked beet and sweet potato chips instead of regular. Craving pasta? Try rice noodles cooked in homemade veggie stock. The point isn’t to try to fool yourself into liking something, but to simply explore all the possibilities of healthful foods.

3. Go at your own pace.
Diets that have strict timelines are intended to create results that are quick, but not lasting. If you’re truly focused on health and happiness that lasts a lifetime, don’t worry about putting unnecessary restrictions on yourself. Implement changes at a pace that works for you, and find your own way to stay on track. Try a new veggie every time you go shopping. Toss out three unhealthy things from your pantry every week. Do something uplifting and positive every Sunday just to feel good inside and out. As long as you keep moving forward, you are doing great!

While crowding out can take some time, it’s much more effective than conventional dieting, and the underlying process of focusing on adding the good  can also apply to other areas of life, such as fitness, professional endeavors, relationships, and spirituality.  

When you start with an open mind and an intention of true wellness, you’ll naturally crowd out anything that doesn’t fit!

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