Add Instead of Subtract to Increase Nutritional Value

When you think of eating “healthy”, if your initial thoughts include avoiding your favorite foods, being dissatisfied with meals overall, and needing to throw away everything in your kitchen and start fresh, let me present another way of thinking.

If you’ve never heard of the “add mentality” before, let’s dive into it a bit. What this way of thinking suggests is thinking of how you can add or increase nutrient density with meals without needing to outright subtract anything else.

It’s important to preface that if you still have very rigid food rules you may not be ready for more of this gentle nutrition approach. And that’s okay! It takes time to get to a point where you can truly enjoy all foods and listen to your body for what it wants. But if you’re struggling to get there and doing it on your own, it may be helpful to bring in the support of a Registered Dietitian who specializes in an anti-diet, weight inclusive, and Intuitive Eating approach.

So let’s go through an example. Say your favorite food is pizza (because duh, it’s delicious). If you typically order a cheese and pepperoni pie, could you add some veggies to it? Or if that’s not your thing (which again is okay because you need to also still be choosing what’s truly satisfying to you), could you add a side salad to your meal? Or some raw veggies to dip into the ranch you’ll also be dipping your pizza in? Some other ideas could include having it on a whole grain crust if that’s still as yummy to you, or having a bowl of fruit on the side if you like the idea of a sweet and savory combo. As you can see none of these suggestions include 1. Swearing off pizza 2. Eating some sort of pizza knock off - cauliflower crust, I’m looking at you 3. Or simply telling yourself to eat less of the food you love and walking away from the table without a sense of fullness or satiety with your meal.

You also likely notice that there’s a theme throughout these suggestions of making decisions that do not decrease your satisfaction or interest level in the meal because again then you’re simply just in a state of restriction (likely both mental and physical), which we know can keep you just as stuck on the roller coast ride of restrained and then unrestrained eating. And one final point to keep in mind is that when you’re experimenting with this add mentality, please remember it is just that - an experiment! The main outcome you want to achieve is listening to your body. Not trying to trick yourself into eating less pizza and more veggies. Could you potentially eat less quantity of pizza because you’re also getting full on the side salad? Yeah definitely! But do you get a gold star because you left behind a slice of pizza and finished your salad? Nope. You get a gold star when you’re listening to your body, whatever the outcome of that might be.