Improve Your Diet... By Addition?
One of the biggest things I hear coaches and “experts” tell others in the gym about food, specifically for people with a goal of losing weight, is that they need to remove X, Y & Z.
The problem is, they don’t lay any of the groundwork to change their clients’ habits. They also don’t do anything to meet their clients at their current level of eating (INSERT WHAT LEVEL ARE YOU LINK). So now this person who is well intentioned, eager, and excited to start reaching their fitness goals, is suddenly very confused and removing food and intake as much as possible because their “expert” or coach told them to.
So, let’s flip the script and ask this question for that same person who wants to lose weight. What if you wanted to fix your diet, but all the foods you normally eat are still there? What would you add? I know, seems silly right? I ate 3 bowls of cereal with a cartoon character on it, a burger for lunch and pizza for dinner, what do you mean add to it?!
This is where I start to get a lot of strange looks, but stick with me. I truly believe it is often easier to get people to start adding to their diet than it is for them to take away to begin with. If you don’t believe me, go read our Reverse Dieting article to see why.
Another huge benefit of adding to a diet is that it often leads to the client feeling better. A great example of this is when we add in some high quality and nutrient dense vegetables, or fruits, for our high school and college aged athletes. They still eat the quick convenience foods and the cafeteria foods, but even just something as simple as adding green leafy vegetable, avocados, carrots or serving of beans leads to them feeling and performing better, almost immediately.
This improvement of their “normal” can often look appealing, and when actions are appealing, we are more likely to repeat them. Now the athlete or person wants to start feeling this way all the time, so they still don’t REMOVE anything, we swap it. Now instead of having that sausage and cheese biscuit on a croissant they ritually devour every morning, we just slightly upgrade it to a sausage, EGG and cheese on a bagel. Then slowly over time we work to ADD some fruit or vegetables either on to the sandwich or as another side like a small fruit cup or yogurt parfait.
Eventually the breakfast has become a whole new ritual for them, and it will adjust slightly for his or her goals. This might mean adding or subtracting food, changing the timing, or even changing the liquid that is drank with it. Maybe the Frappuccino becomes a coffee, orange juice, or smoothie depending on the individual’s goals.
Another example of adding to improve your diet is when you have an emotional eating trigger. You can add a food before to stop you from eating as much of that emotional food. We will often have clients and athletes go ahead and give themselves 3-4 ways to deal with that trigger, including ADDING a food or action between the emotional eating trigger and deciding if you want to actually eat it. Adding this small snack or food will often lead to better long-term food decisions and thus long-term health and fitness improvements.
Again, we’re not REMOVING much here at all, we are usually swapping or adding, even for those wanting to lose weight. Another great example of this is when we have our athletes / clients add in healthy protein sources to their meals because they are under-eating that macronutrient. This again leads to great benefits like them feeling fuller and having more energy. Long-term in regards to training, this can also lead to them gaining some lean body mass. This is often done by simply adding small high protein snacks, meals or shakes to what the client already eats.
There may be times when we ask clients to eat less of something, but as we often say, we do it slowly and by building habits to make it stick. The option of adding more nutrient dense food to reach a goal is often more important and has proven more effective in leading to reaching goals as well as maintaining them for a long time. Want to play this same game with your life goals? Go check out our other article: Life Improvement... By Removal?
What can you add to your diet today to make it better without removing anything else? What are some things you can swap to help you reach your overall goals? If you want more help finding better ways to add to your diet and create long term habits and easy changes, Click Here to speak with our Powell Performance staff.