nutrition who am I

Focus on adding, not taking away

Saturday, 22 March 2014
Happy hour at my favourite bar

I saw this image the other day and immediately thought “Yes! So true!” and “I could really go for some heavy dead lifts right now”, followed by “Interesting how I’ve changed, I can’t remember the last time I had more alcohol than a few sips…”

Happy hour at my favourite bar

I don’t actually have anything against having a drink once in a while. Not long ago I would have a glass of wine most nights once the kids are in bed (if you are a mother, you are probably nodding at this point) but I realised now that I’ve stopped this habit without actively trying to stop it.

In fact I have noticed that all the positive and healthier changes in my life in the past 5 or so years have happened gradually. Every time I try to change something fast, I fail. Every time (since I can remember) I have said to myself “From tomorrow I will no longer drink Diet Coke / eat muffins / pick my cuticles / etc. “, I have failed.

When I change my mindset from thinking about what I have to give up, to what I can add to my life, I find that the good stuff I’m adding to my life slowly but surely crowds out the bad stuff.

For example, when I first gave up sugar I would still eat Cheerios for dessert almost every night but over the last 2 years I’ve found many interesting sweet treats that are not sweetened with sugar that I no longer reach for cereal. So although I gave up cakes and biscuits and ice cream, etc. straight away when I decided to quit sugar, I did not quit everything with even little quantities of sugar in it – over the years though my sugar intake has continuously decreased as I’ve found more and more alternatives to sugar, and as my body and mind adjusted to life with less sugar and craved it less and less.

Another change that I’ve just realised that’s happened in my life is that I no longer buy lunch. On and off for the past decade I have been thinking that I need to pack my own lunch to save money but I have never succeeded for more than a week at a time.

Until my focus was on having to stop buying lunch, I failed.  Once I started focusing on nutrition and just thinking about and planning what I would like to eat every day, I naturally got into a new habit.  I roast a large tray of vegetables twice a week and boil some quinoa, buckwheat or eggs. At work I have a drawer full of tinned mackerel – and voila – I have not bought lunch for almost a year (a few exceptions here and there when I’m travelling or running to work, etc.).

Stuff I eat

Stuff I eat


Every week I change the veggies I prep but they usually include sweet potatoes, parsnips, brussels sprouts, kale and beetroot. Once in a while my protein component is plain grilled chicken but most of the time it’s tinned mackerel or boiled eggs or both. Now that the weather is getting warmer I’m starting to add more raw salad vegetables into my lunches.

I’m currently working on reducing grains in my diet again but instead of thinking “I will never eat any bread again”, I’m letting myself eat gluten free bread once in a while and even a regular croissant once in a while. Every time I crave bread I think of an alternative I could have. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but I know how my mind works and I know that by thinking of alternatives I will eventually get to the point where I immediately go for the alternative and don’t even think about the bread.

The same goes with my evening snacking. A few weeks ago I was really beating myself up over the fact that I snack a lot at night because a full stomach at night means that I cannot fall asleep for 1-3 hours after I go to bed and that is just all kinds of sucky.

My first reaction was to just “snap out of it and stop snacking after dinner”. But I failed that day. And I failed the next. And then I realised that I needed to stop focusing on giving up the snacking and instead think of things I could snack on that would be lighter on my digestion and not give me insomnia.

I’m not 100% there yet, some nights I still eat too much and cannot sleep, but I’m positive that one day I’ll realise that by looking for lighter things to eat at night I have slipped out of the manic night-time snacking habit all together.

So this is the weird and wonderful way my brain works. How about you? Are you good at going cold-turkey or does slow and steady positive thinking work for you as well?

You Might Also Like

  • this wasn't what I was going to talk about but hey-ho - Diary of a Newbie StrongWomen Tuesday, 25 March 2014 at 10:05

    […] I wanted to draw attention to this blog post Adding not taking away  written by @mrsb_ldn who is a runner. It’s such a great idea, accentuate the positive. You […]

  • Muriel Sunday, 23 March 2014 at 11:58

    This is so true! I recently added raw chocolate to my life, and there is no going back: I can satisfy my cravings with less chocolate…what’s to like about it?

    • MrsB Tuesday, 25 March 2014 at 10:56

      And you thought you couldn’t reduce your sugar intake :)

  • Helen Saturday, 22 March 2014 at 19:46

    My husband wanted us to do dry January so we did. The first week was HARD (I wasn’t a large volume drink but probably had a small glass a night and 2 glasses on Friday/Saturday). However by the time we got to the end of January I realised how much better I felt with no alcohol at all (i.e. do we try and deceive ourselves that 1 glass won’t hurt?) Since the end of Jan I have drunk 1/2 glass of wine perhaps 5 times? and I have no desire to drink more. My husband is in heaven thinking he now has a designated driver on tap. So that was going cold turkey and it worked. The slow but sure thing has been adding water, I fluctuate wildly in my water drinking from lots to nothing so now when I come downstairs in the morning whilst the kettle is boiling for my cuppa I have a pint of water.
    I love the idea of adding good things to your life rather than taking away bad, such a great mind set and much more likely to be successful.

    • MrsB Tuesday, 25 March 2014 at 11:03

      Giving up alcohol cold turkey probably wasn’t hard for you because you weren’t a big drinker to begin with. It’s cool though how you’ve noticed the change in how you feel when you don’t drink. And as for water – I do tend to be either OTT or not enough, especially on weekends I don’t drink enough because I don’t have a water bottle in front of me all the time, like I do at work.

  • Lucy Saturday, 22 March 2014 at 18:16

    I can really relate to this- making small gradual changes over a period of time works best for me, rather than trying to make big changes overnight!
    The only overnight change I’ve managed is quitting Diet Coke- I had to go cold turkey on that, and it’s now been 11 weeks!

    • MrsB Tuesday, 25 March 2014 at 11:03

      Diet Coke is Evil. I’m so glad you quit drinking it :) (I was addicted to it for years myself :|)

  • Steve Saturday, 22 March 2014 at 15:21

    Such a tru post, its not about giving up its about making a positive decision: to eat healthier, to get fitter and enjoy life.

  • Sarah Saturday, 22 March 2014 at 12:33

    Love this post … and it really rings true with me! As I’ve focused more on being healthy, I’ve also found that the processed, high sugar options are just less appealing. Apart from creme eggs of course. Those are just amazing :)

    • MrsB Saturday, 22 March 2014 at 16:31

      I have never tried a creme egg :| But I was addicted to Snickers bars once in a while and even called one of my cats that :)