Never, ever, ever, EVER eat ____________ (fill in the blank) again!!!
OK, if I told you that, what would be the first thing you’d want to eat before the respective time arrived to have to stop forevermore?!
THAT THING!!! Right?!
Us humans are squirrely little creatures sometimes, and we definitely don’t like being told what to do. It’s a pretty natural response to want to do the very thing we’ve just been told not to do as soon as someone says so.
Think back to the last time you tried to eliminate a particular food or drink from your daily diet. It was probably really tough!
What I’ve found, though, is we just need to flip this idea of “don’t eat __________ anymore”on its head. And this idea, flipped on its head, is called ADDING IN. We “add in” so we can “crowd out.”
How’s this work?
- First, target the food (or relationship, or behavior) you want to eliminate.
- Instead of stopping there, then I want you to think of a better version of the food (relationship, behavior, etc).
- Next, target that “good” thing and be honest with yourself about what amount of it you can add in that is reasonable for you.
- Lastly, and THIS IS KEY, tell yourself as long as you eat the good thing first (hang out with the kind person, do the good behavior, etc first) you can still eat as much of the other stuff as you did before. It’s not “cheating,” I promise.
It gives your psyche a freaking break from the get-go to say to yourself, “Hey, I’m going to do what I can, add in this good thing, but if I still want the unhealthy/bad thing I can have it; I’m going to give myself time to adjust.” Over time, the “bad” stuff gets crowded out. And in the long run, this is a way more sustainable approach than cold turkey deprivation!
Lets say you usually eat 2 donuts and drink a big cup of coffee with lots of cream and sugar every morning. Perhaps you could start by “adding in” a banana in order to “crowd out” a donut. At first, you may just eat the banana, and still scarf a couple of donuts. No problem. Give it a couple of days to see how it goes. Maybe you can add in a short one-minute meditation, prayer, or deep breathing after the banana and before the donut. Maybe adding in one glass of water as soon as you get up helps crowd out the coffee so you can go from a large to a medium. You get the idea!
Another way I see “adding in” is what one of my mentors often tells me: “Do as you can, not as you cant.” Sometimes the thought of completely eliminating my Walkers Shortbread cookies and tea in the morning feels impossible. I think “I can’t.” But if I add in drinking some water first thing when I wake up in the morning, it just makes it easier to eat one or two fewer of those bad boys, plus I’ve given myself something good to take its place.
- Add in lighting a candle or taking 10 deep breaths = crowding out not over eating/eating too fast
- Add in yoga = crowding out TV = crowding out soda (because you always want to drink a soda and eat chips when you watch TV)
- Add in veggies (demonstrated in the feature photo :-p) = crowd out bread
- Add in making new friendships with people at your church or yoga studio = crowding out other unhealthy or trouble maker friendships
- Add in tea at night = crowding out a beer or glass of wine
- Add in volunteer time = crowding out isolation and loneliness
And last but not least, if you’ve scanned all the writing above and you’d rather just watch a 4min video from me that is years old and poor quality, but which describes this concept, too, then please watch HERE or below 🙂