Are you familiar with the term ‘crowding out’?
It’s a great healthy eating and mindset strategy that employs eating more instead of eating less and restricting.
Crowding out means adding more to your diet.
By adding more healthy whole foods to your diet, you fill up on these and reduce the room available for less nutrient dense foods like sugar, refined carbohydrates and the rest of it.
So as a simple example, you pile your plate high with salad and thus have two slices of pizza instead of three – quite simply because you’re packed out with salad.
But can you ever completely crowd sugar out?
What about those times when you are stuffed – when you’ve crowded out with vegetables for flipping England, but you still want ‘something sweet’?
I know this feeling, and often this comes down to your habits rather than sugar, but rest assured you can still use crowding out strategies to curb these sweet habits so you can meet your health goals.
Here’s my sugar busting guide to crowding out…
1. Crowd more protein into breakfast
When you steady out your fluctuating blood sugar levels, you physically reduce the chance of having sugar cravings.
Mid-morning can be a killer for cravings where you can find yourself fancying sugar and carbohydrates at 11am if you’ve eaten a meal that hasn’t balanced you as well.
If you do have cereal or a muesli for example, crowd out with nuts, seeds, and yoghurt to reduce the cereal portion and bulk up with filling protein. Maybe a little lower fructose fruit like berries or chopped kiwi fruit to increase the nutrition density without overloading on sugar.
You can do exactly the same with porridge (read here for how to lower sugar in your porridge toppings).
Also don’t be afraid to add extra ‘breakfast sides’ to crowd out further e.g. a handful of cherry tomatoes, half an avocado and some nuts for extra protein. Sometimes I’ve added a boiled egg on the side of a low sugar smoothie and more recently I’ve started adding salad to my scrambled eggs.
Whatever you do, decide to have fun with it and experiment!
2. Crowd in leafy greens…everywhere
Most people don’t eat enough leafy greens, it’s as simple as that.
I get upset when I don’t. It’s almost like my ultimate daily health non-negotiable.
They are nutritionally supercharged wonders that help your body function efficiently and help you process sugar better if you do happen to eat it.
So crowding in dark leafy green wherever you can is a seriously good health habit to develop.
Try some of these:
- Add a side of broccoli or green beans to any meal
- Wilt spinach and add to eggs in the morning
- Add spinach or courgettes to pasta sauces
- Try courgetti (spiralized courgette) instead of pasta
- Whip up a rocket salad to accompany a bowl of soup
- Add watercress, broccoli or kale to smoothies
- And my favourite….eat SALAD FOR BREAKFAST!! 🙂
3. Crowd tempting situations with healthy fat
This goes against the grain of traditional healthy eating advice but recently is has become more widely known that not all fat is equal.
Because it can be tasty and satisfying, in the case of reducing sugar cravings, it can work a treat.
If there’s an event or situation on the horizon where you know you might fall partial to some tempting sugar that you’d rather avoid, be sure to add some healthy but seemingly indulgent fat to your food instead.
Make it something that you really like and this works even better.
This will do two things – it will fill you up and satiate you but it will also stop you feeling deprived.
For example, a creamy or buttery sauce will add a rich satisfying element to your meal that will likely fill you up too much for dessert.
Some extra nuts or cheese on your salad will again add an indulgent satisfying element and if you’re going out starving, try a little avocado on a cracker to stop you gorging on the first unhealthy foods in sight.
You can even try having a few almonds after a meal to replace the post meal sweet fix (read here for 50 other post-meal craving ideas)
4. Crowd out your sweet activity
Coffee with the girls? Popcorn at the cinema? Ice cream night in?
We’re not just talking food and nutrition crowding out today.
Take a look at your diary and start to crowd out pastimes that involve sweet with those that don’t.
Suggest to your friend you catch up with a walk round the park or exercise class and be proactive in organising activities where you know sweet isn’t such a big part of the picture.
5. Crowd out sugary thoughts
I know when you’re slightly sugar controlled, it can be on your mind…a lot.
However, when you’ve a stressful situation at hand, it’s surprising how quickly something else can dominate your thoughts. Often we think about sugar too much when we are quite simply bored!
Add new projects to your focus. Fill thinking space with interior ideas for your new lounge or some planning for your upcoming holiday.
Create deadlines for yourself around these and you’ll have new goals to focus your thinking on.
6. Crowd out but balance
I used to make the mistake of crowding my plate with loads of vegetables or salad and not really much else because I thought this was the healthiest way to go.
However having just a giant barely dressed salad left me still a bit hungry and thus insanely tempted by the dessert menu.
So it wasn’t uncommon for me to eat a big old healthy salad and then stuff my face with apple crumble. In fact, it was standard for a while!
You can avoid this scenario by crowding your meal with appropriate portions of protein, vegetables and fat. Don’t forget you need all of these to properly fill yourself up when you are truly hungry and fuel your body’s functioning.
So get crowding out!
Forget eating less. Forget depriving yourself. Crowd out to ease out the sugar habits gradually and it will get easier and easier I promise.
Fill yourself up with colourful whole foods and nourish yourself with healthy activity that feeds your soul so you simply don’t leave enough room in your stomach or life for the sugary stuff!
Any other crowding out strategies that you know and love? Comment below with your ideas!