Don’t Deprive…Crowd It Out

We've all been there at one point. Whether it was starting a new "diet", beginning to work out or any other host of "healthier" habits.

Question for you, what's typically at the top of the rule book?


Get RID of this...

NO MORE of that.

Right out of the gate it's about removing things, which immediately puts us in the mindset of deprivation.  Am I right??

What if we could achieve the same goal(s) but without going into a headspace of scarcity but rather one of abundance?

How about we Crowd Out instead??

I know what you're thinking. "Huh?? What are you talking about...Crowding Out??" 

As we discuss what Crowding Out means, I'm going to put it in the context of nutrition, however once you learn the approach, you'll be able to see how it can also be applied to anything from exercise to finances.

First, let's see where the diet world stands

Before I share this new approach with you I'd like you to take a quick look at the two diet world stats. Here's how we're looking at the moment:

Americans on a Diet
"Fail" / Rebound

As you can see...not the best success rate.  I won't climb onto my soapbox about all of the reasons why diets don't work. At the core it boils down to one main reason:

Diets are highly restrictive and therefore unsustainable.

Essentially we're setting ourselves up for failure as soon as we start. Talk about insanity!

Back to Crowding Out: Starting with a bit of identification

If we're honest with ourselves, we know what foods we're overeating and do not serve our best interest in the area of health and wellness. 

For some it's about the sugar (cakes, cookies, candy, soda, ice cream, juice, etc.). Others may be in love with fried foods (french fries, fried chicken, mozzarella sticks, potato chips, etc.). Those are just two off the top of my head. There are endless choices in this day and age.

So what's YOUR go-to? Look at your daily/weekly eating patterns and see what rises to the top. Make a note. 

OK so don't freak out...we're doing it differently this time

Now that you've ID'd the foods that are making too many appearances on your menu, we're going to work towards changing that frequency.

I the past "Diet X" would say you're to never have that item again. Commence freak out mode right?!? You mean I'll never be able to have a piece of cake EVER?!?!

Let me ask you this...when you're told that you can't have something, what do you instinctively fixate on? The VERY thing you're not "supposed" to have right? It becomes a focal point...almost all-consuming. We're going to change that right now.

Enter the Crowding Out approach

Like I mentioned before, the reality is that those foods are not serving your best interest in the volume that you're consuming them. It's just the judgement.

The approach we're going to take this time is to increase the good stuff so there's less room for the bad. We're not saying that you'll never be able to enjoy your favorite treat again. There just won't be as much room for it. So what does what does that look like?

For this example let's use cake since we've called that out already.  By the way...if you're not a cake person, insert your food of choice. Perhaps you have a piece of cake for dessert after dinner each night. A habit that you grew up with and have carried into adulthood. 

So let's crowd this out shall we? 

It's actually quite simple, if there's room left for cake, there's room for something else. Let's fill that space with some goodness, for example:

  • more vegetables from your meal (fiber is filling)
  • have a salad (fiber...again super filling)
  • some whole fruit in place of the cake (you get both the fiber plus some sweetness)
  • a extra glass of water (assists with the feeling of satiety) 
  • take a break (allowing extra time before a meal and dessert will allow your brain to process whether you're still hungry or if there's another signal being sent wanting the cake)

Of course this is just an example at that particular meal. You can also be proactive throughout the day by implementing the ideas above. You may even find that you're not as hungry in general, thereby cutting your portion sizes down mealtime. 

Regularly try something new 

Another strategy for Crowding Out that I really like is to try new foods on a regular basis.

One thing I do with almost all of my Health Coaching clients is to have them select and prepare one thing that they've never had before on a weekly basis. We typically eat the same handful of foods over our lifetime and there are SO many wonderful things out there to try!

The worst thing that happens is that we don't like it. That's cool...scratch it off the list. But, if we enjoy it we can add it to the list of things we like, growing our menu and you guessed it...crowd out the other things that don't serve our health and wellness.  


Have you tried the crowding out approach before? I'd love to hear your thoughts below.

If you'd like to learn more about this technique or need support in other areas of your health and wellness please reach out at:

Chris Keseling

Chris is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, Personal Trainer and Reiki Master. With over a decade experience, his passion is to support and empower his clients to take control of their health holistically.

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