We're all rebels at heart. Yep, that devil on your shoulder can't wait to disobey orders. Which is why defining your life, whether it be relationships, nutrition, or work, by what you *ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT EVER DO* will have you quickly obsessing over the banned item. For most of us, that means eventually we give in. Enter, the idea of adding instead of subtracting. A concept we'll refer to as crowding out.
So what is crowing out exactly? It's the idea that when we add habits, foods, and activities into our lives that are good for us, we'll leave less room for the habits we'd like to leave behind.
Example: Let's say you're a junk food addict. For some, the logical step is to forever ban the drive-through, packaged foods, and sugary sodas. While I totally approve of a no fast-food food approach, it simply won't work as a first step for a longtime McNugget addict. So, what do I recommend here? You add a giant, raw, leafy-green-filled salad every day at lunch. On Sunday you prepare your five salads for the week ahead (yep, you can spare the 15 minutes) and you bring them to work every day. Now, no one told you not to let your nugget-freak flag fly high, we just told you to add a salad to the mix. Every day at noon, you're going to down that salad before you hit up the drive-through. Maybe the first week you still want the whole meal after the salad. That's fine! Because guess what? You just added a shit load of nutrients, fiber, and hydration into your system. So even if you eat that whole damn meal you're still going to feel better over time. More likely though? You won't want the McDonalds after that salad. Or maybe you want the nuggets, but today you can go without the fries. Your inner rebel is happy because it can do whatever the hell she wants. Your body is happy because regardless of what followed, you added some much-needed nutrition to the plate.
Crowding out works amazingly well for nutrition:
- Instead of banning an afternoon snack, you add in 16 ounces of water and 15 minutes of wait time every afternoon when your snack monster comes-a-calling
- You add 5-8 servings of colorful vegetables every day without removing anything else
- You drink 12 ounces of hot green tea before reaching for your usual soda (but guess what, no one said you can't have the soda after)
- You drink 16 ounces of lemon water before looking at your phone every morning; then feel free to tap away
- Add in a large cup of lavender tea after dinner...perhaps you won't need that comforting glass of wine (at least not every.single.night)
Crowding out works for behaviors too!
Let's say you want to watch less TV. instead of just yelling at yourself to WATCH LESS TV, how about you add a habit in? Say, take a 20-minute walk with your partner after dinner and before TV time starts. OR, read 10 pages of a fun book before turning the TV on.
These are just a few examples of how this concept works. You can literally apply crowding out to anything. Let me know if you've used this approach or how you plan to use it!