Gaining to Lose: The Additive Approach to Weight Management

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “diet,” what I really hear is “deprivation.” Having been on array of diets over the last 30 years (I started young!), I’m intimately familiar with self-imposed food restrictions that leave me cranky.

In fact, I’m on a “diet” as we speak, but what I’m really attempting to do is create healthier eating habits, which for me involve cooking instead of relying on prepared foods. And yet, it’s true, I’m also counting calories. I have a MyFitnessPal app on my phone, and—at the request of my Fitness Boot Camp trainer—I’m logging everything I eat so it’s clear how many calories I’m taking in each day.

It’s working. Increased physical activity and calorie reduction have me down 11 pounds, but I can’t imagine logging what I’m eating into my phone for the rest of my life. It’s fine for now, but to make lasting changes in my body, I’m going to have to alter not just my food and fitness habits but also the way I think about them.

That’s why I’m especially interested in Kripalu Lead Nutritionist Annie B. Kay’s additive approach to weight management. Maybe it’s a just a mind game, but Annie, an integrative dietician and author of Every Bite Is Divine, suggests that instead of concentrating on what we’re giving up when we’re trying to lose or maintain weight, it might behoove us to focus on what we’re adding.

Few Americans take in the daily recommended servings of fruit and vegetables, so the first thing many of us looking to drop some pounds can do is add more plant food to our plates. When I start filling my plate with kale, carrots, and broccoli, I notice that I require less of whatever else I typically eat. So instead of focusing on the fact that I have to eat less maple-glazed granola, I’m focusing on the fact that I’m actually allowed to eat more blueberries and strawberries.

The bottom line: When we focus on eating more of the good stuff, we feel less deprived about eating less of the not-as-good stuff. With that said, I’m going to drink a big glass of water—another thing all of us can guiltlessly add to our daily diet!

Portland Helmich is the creator, host, and producer of the Kripalu Perspectives podcast series. She has been investigating natural health and healing as a host, reporter, writer, and producer for more than 15 years.

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