Why You Should Focus on Eating More, not Less
When you look to improving your diet, you may be tempted to immediately focus on what to cut back or eliminate. You may say things like:
“I am giving up ________.”
“I’m cutting out __________.”
“I’m going to eat less __________.”
“I’m going to stop ___________.”
No doubt, there are many food products that we should be eating less of and habits that would serve us well to be broken. These kinds of outcomes can all be great results of improving your diet, but making them your focus can be problematic.
In fact, this kind of thinking can set you up for a situation much like the one where someone says, “Don’t think of a pink elephant.”
What’s the first thing you think of? It’s pink. It has a long trunk.
It’s a lot easier to simply tell yourself, “Think of cute puppies playing on the beach.”
Doing this will make you more successful in not thinking of a pink elephant.
This is why I encourage you to think about what you want to eat more of.
Yes, even if your goal is to lose weight.
Why? Because it works better than focusing on what foods you don’t want to/can’t/shouldn’t eat. And it’s more fun!
Your health and weight are influenced as much by what you do eat as it is by what you don’t eat. Cutting out one ingredient doesn’t make up for not eating something else. I can forbid my kids from eating any refined sugar, but if they don’t eat vegetables, they’re still not eating a healthy diet.
So maybe you’re wondering, what should I eat more of?
How about a type of vegetable that can help:
- Stabilize your blood sugar
- Lower your blood pressure
- Protect your eyes against macular degeneration
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Make your mind 11 years younger
- Decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety
And, oh yes...
- Give you clearer and more beautiful hair, skin and nails.
(Hey, no one’s going to blame you for wanting to be healthy AND good-looking!)
If a pill did all this, it would make someone very rich!
It would also likely be featured in a TV commercial ending with a disclaimer stating the medication may cause a rash, a stomach ache, bad body odor, an inability to fight infections and oh, yeah, maybe death. (You know the kinds of ads I’m talking about!)
Fortunately, vegetables don’t need these kind of disclaimers.
The type of vegetable I’m talking about is an affordable, low calorie, super nutritious food that features, not surprisingly, the color most lacking in the American diet.
I’m talking about Leafy Greens.
We Americans aren’t eating enough of them. So we aren’t reaping their benefits. There are two major reasons why. The first has to do with taste.
The bitter taste found in some leafy greens can turn people off before they give them much of a chance. But here is what you need to know: Eating bitter flavors will soon make you CRAVE them more.
People tend to think of their taste as a static characteristic. You either like country music or you don’t. (Or you’re like me and you never liked it, until you got pregnant for the first time and then you decided you loved it. Might have been the hormones... )
The point is, your “tastes” can change. And when you change your diet, they will change.
Plus, did you know that eating bitter flavors helps reduce sugar cravings? So if your goal is to eat less sugar, you could get the results you want by focusing on eating more leafy greens.
Eating less sugar is a great idea, as the average American eats over 5 times the maximum amount of added sugar recommended by the World Health Organization. This adds up to 100 pounds of sugar per year! Yikes…
And in case you’re keeping track, this also means that leafy greens can help you lose weight. Without a pill! They are low calorie, but nutrient dense.
The second reason why people don’t eat more greens is that, besides a salad, they don’t know how else to enjoy them. So let me give you a few tips to get started:
3 Easy Ways to Add More Greens
1) Add to fruit smoothies.
By now, you’ve heard of green smoothies. You probably have at least a vague idea that they can be good for you. They also happen to be a great way to incorporate leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards, bok choy, romaine and other sweet lettuces in your diet.
Start with a half cup of greens and you can increase the amount over time as your tastes adjust. You don’t need a fancy blender to make one. Any regular blender will do. I’ll show you how in this video.
2) Add to soups.
This is an easy way to eat lots of greens, even for those who don’t like lots of greens, because several cups will cook down to just a fraction of their volume. Good ones to try in soups include Swiss chard, kale, beet or turnip greens, mustard greens, any type of cabbage, spinach and escarole.
To make it super simple, you can even use frozen greens in your soups. But no matter what kind you use, remember to chop them up to pieces that will fit in your soup spoon for more enjoyable eating.
Even kids can enjoy greens in their soup, like in my Kitchen Noodle Soup.
3) Beans + Greens + Allium = Easy Meal.
Sauté greens with any kind of allium (onions, leeks, garlic or shallots), add your favorite type of beans and use to top bread, put in a taco shell, tortilla wrap or top a nice cooked grain like rice or quinoa.
This can be pantry/freezer ingredient cooking at it’s finest. Combos I recommend: cannellini beans and kale, black eyed peas and collards or black beans and spinach.
Want more guidance in getting your leafy greens? Get selection and preparation tips for 27 types of leafy greens, including 35 recipes, instructional videos and 16 weeks of mini menu plans and shopping lists designed to help you add 3-5 leafy green recipes to your menu each week in my online program Green Your Plate, Change Your Life. You can even get started with a free trial today.
With so many different types of greens to choose from, you’ll discover new favorites and find out how to make them taste fantastic.
Soon you too can be craving these inexpensive, low calorie, nutritional powerhouse foods. And your body and mind will thank you for it.
What type of leafy green do you wish you could enjoy more?