"Crowding Out" Instead Of "Cutting Out" When Dieting

June 18, 2012

When dieting, it’s pretty common to feel deprived (or hungry, at the least) as you parse out calories in order to lose weight.
It’s called “cutting out” and it’s the standard (and far too popular) approach to any form of dieting: cut your food intake, get into a calorie deficit and lose weight.
However, there’s an alternative way to just cut calories (and feeling miserable): it’s called “crowding out”, and it’s a different approach to the old “cutting out” method.
Crowding out involves adding more healthy food to your diet rather than cutting back on foods you enjoy.
Supporters of this method believe that over time, cravings for unhealthy foods are likely to disappear (or diminish), leaving you healthier and leaner.

Crowding Out

The method

The crowding method is the practice of trying to make healthy choices every time you eat, by gradually adding foods to your diet rather than just take them away.
If you add an healthy range of tastes, you offer balance to your body which will not happen when you just restrict your food intake.
The theory behind is that the more good foods you are adding, the less room you have for the bad foods. Eating more nutritious and nutrient dense foods satisfies cravings and feeds the body, leaving one satiated. As a consequence, the bad feelings get literally crowded out.
In other words, if you are adding healthy foods all day long then it’s less likely that you will have cravings for junk foods, which will slowly decrease over time and will be replaced by healthy food cravings.
Supporters of the crowding out method stress out the fact that there’s little room for failure with it because you’re not restricting or punishing your body. Instead you’re rewarding yourself with stuff that’s actually good for you. While the common diets are set up for disaster, as they are unsustainable for longer periods of time, the crowding method can be practiced and maintained for a lifetime.

How to implement it

When it comes to crowding out the key word is “gradually”. You don’t want to switch from burgers with fries to green juice in just one day, but you can make major changes just by adding veggies, fruits and whole grains one step at the time.
For instance, if you are having your usual donut in the morning try to add a fruit. If you are making mac&cheese for dinner then add some steamed broccoli on the side. Try to substitute the fries with your lunch for a salad. Instead of chips have carrot sticks with hummus as a snack.
Last, but not leas
t, remember to replenish yourself with lots of water: drink a glass of water before you eat, that alone will help your cravings and give you the water you need.


You might be wondering if “crowding out” collides with other practices we have discussed in the past, but it actually does not.
Think about it, if you’re a person with healthy habits, you’re probably already crowding out on a daily basis (or, at least, that’s what I do).

If you’re trying to lose weight or, better off, trying to become healthier I think that the crowding out method could be a very powerful thing to integrate in your life and to carry out for the remainder of it.


  1. Thank you so much for putting a name (crowding out) to something I've been doing for about 10 weeks now. Driving home from work 10 weeks ago, on an impulse, I pulled into a health club and joined. Then gave up fast food, sweets and diet sodas and replaced those with chicken, fish, veggies, fruit and nuts. I'm not really eating less, I'm just eating better. I've lost 20 pounds so far, but have been worried that I wasn't dieting enough, because I'm not hungry. But I know it's all about the lifestyle change, not dieting. I had a lightbulb moment with your article!

  2. It makes me so happy that you could relate to my article Claudia. And, btw, you're doing great, keep at it!