The “Crowding Out” Dietary Program: Adding More “Good” to Crowd Out the “Bad”

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by Jen Alvarez

We’re bombarded by dieting plans and protocols. The majority of them promise to help us lose weight, look great, feel great and have the body that we’ve always wanted. All we have to do is follow their simple plan: eliminate carbs, or eliminate sugars, or replace meals with shakes and supplement pills, or focus only on certain aspects of nutritional information such as grams of fat or calories, and on and on. 

First of all, most of these plans actually will work if you follow the program. However, they are designed to provide fast results and instant gratification. The programs essentially manipulate the body for a short period of time. These results are usually short-lived and do not result in a sustainable lifestyle change.

You may not know about a relatively new dietary theory called, the “crowding out” theory,” espoused by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (www.integrativenutrition.com). With the crowding out theory you add foods “into” your diet rather than take foods out. There are no promises of weight loss and there is no program to strictly follow.

What does adding foods “in” mean? It simply means adding things like more fruit, more vegetables, more whole foods, more appropriate protein and drinking more water. It also means adding in things like more adequate rest and more exercise.

The crowding out theory does suggest consuming less meat, less milk, less sugar, less“chemicalized” artificial junk food, less coffee and less alcohol. Less does not mean none, it just means less. According to the theory, as healthier foods are added into your diet, your body will begin to crave the more nutrient-rich items; processed, sugary, high fat and salty foods will eventually get crowded out.

There are lots of examples of ways to practice the crowding out theory. One is adding more fruits. I suggest adding one to two fresh raw juices per day. Another is adding a healthy smoothie as a meal replacement. Use hummus as a condiment instead of mayo. Replace potato chips with baby carrots or celery. Have a tablespoon of coconut oil vs. eating a candy bar. Choose a green leafy salad instead of a burger, taco or sandwich. Drink water or green tea instead of soda (diet or regular). Eat raw nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds for a mid-day snack. Eat lean, grass-fed meat when eating meats. Eat healthier fats such as avocado, olives or nut butter.

The best way to start the practice of “crowding out” is by committing to one small change at a time. For example, making a commitment for one week to increase the amount of fresh water you drink. The following week increase the amount of leafy green vegetables in your diet or increase the amount of sweet vegetables that you eat. Spend a week experimenting with protein or whole grains.

Just one small step at a time. No rush, no agenda, no pressure. One thing I can promise you is the more “alive” the foods that you put into your body are, the more alive and vital you will feel. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you for it in countless ways.

Jen “Enthusiasm” Alvarez, RN, BSN, is a health coach with Elevate Life Wellness in San Antonio. For more information about Elevate Life, visit www.elevatelifewellness.com.

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