To start, I want to apologize if the title of this post brought back any traumatic memories of second grade math class. I well remember those days of sitting in class, petrified that the teacher might call on me to solve a math problem. Addition wasn't too bad, but subtraction was the tricky one.
Once our class got past the easy problems like 2-2=0, my brain would start swimming. 17 -8= what? 27-18= huh? 38-19= are you crazy?! How am I supposed to know that?!
I think I've been permanently scarred by math. Even now it would take me a couple of minutes to figure out what 38-19 equals without a calculator (but, I promise, I really do have a high school diploma, and a college degree, and I'm finishing up my Master's. I've just regressed a bit in the math department . . . )
Anyways, the point is that subtraction is almost always more complicated than addition. And I don't just mean in math, either.
Where Are You Putting Your Focus?
When people are trying really hard to have a healthier lifestyle, usually the first thing they do is to focus on the things they have to subtract from their lives. They think of all of the things they have to take away and all of the things that they can't have any more.
All the junk food has to go. No more french fries. No more pizza. No more potato chips. All those unhealthy habits have to go too. No more staying inside all evening and watching TV or sitting in front of the computer.
And then, if you go even deeper into the world of health (especially into the "real food" world of unconventional health), there are even more little things to take away. There are the obvious things to avoid, like the hydrogenated vegetable oils and high fructose corn syrup, but then there are all of the other "normal" foods that you might not have even realized could possibly have a problem. Foods like pasteurized milk, and cereal, and granola bars. Foods that you had thought were super healthy until you started reading about all of the hormones and antibiotics and denatured proteins lurking in your milk, the extruded grains and artificial flavors in your breakfast cereal, and the high content of phytic acid and sugar in those granola bars.
While it's really important to be aware of things like antibiotics in milk and phytic acid in whole-grain granola bars, sometimes it seems like putting so much focus on the negative can do more harm than good. It's really easy for people to get overwhelmed by the amount of information that there is on health and nutrition, especially if they are just starting to transition away from an unhealthy lifestyle. And thinking of all of the foods you can't eat anymore can be just downright discouraging.
Focus on the Positive Rather than the Negative
Rather than focusing on taking away everything that's bad for your body, I think it would be so much more productive to focus on adding all of the good foods and lifestyle changes that will nourish your body and lead to better health and wellness, especially for those who are just beginning a real food journey.
Instead of worrying about removing every little unhealthy food from your diet, it's better to focus on adding in all of the delicious, nutrient-dense foods like butter and raw milk and homemade sourdough bread. Rather than focusing on limiting your TV or computer time, find some other activities that you enjoy doing. Take your dog for a walk in the fresh air or play a game of catch with your kids.
Thinking negatively all the time about what you can't eat or shouldn't do isn't much fun. And I don't think it's very beneficial for health either to be always stressing about not getting enough exercise or feeling guilty for eating something you shouldn't have.
When you think positively about adding in good foods and activities, all of the positives will fill up your diet and lifestyle until there isn't much room left anymore for the bad stuff anyways. And, as a bonus, focusing on the positive will allow you to have less stress and guilt and a more enjoyable life too! :)
Has Your Focus Been on Addition or on Subtraction?
This post is linked to: Sunday School at Butter Believer, Natural Living Monday Natural Living Mamma, Clever Chicks Blog Hop at The Chicken Chick, and Family Table Tuesday at the Polivka Family, Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Party Wave Wednesday at Holistic Squid, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways Wednesday at Frugaly Sustainable, Natural Living Link-Up at Jill's Home Remedies, Thank Your Body Thursday at Thank Your Body, Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, and Fresh Bites Friday at Real Food Whole Health.