I was reading a post about dipping baby carrots in ranch, and it reminded me of what I've previously described as an Additive vs. Subtractive approach to nutrition.
The Subtractive view looks at all the things you're currently eating, or might eat in a given day, and sees a pile of Bad Stuff, with probably some Good Stuff mixed in, which would be better if only you could clean off and remove the Bad. The Unhealthy, the Fattening. So this outlook sees the carrots as Good, and that ranch is Bad, so in order to eat well, the thing to do is remove the ranch.
(I fear I've gotten in too deep with capitalizing Things for Emphasis, so I'm going to back off on that now. You get the point - foods are not *actually* fundamentally good or bad, they are just categorized that way.)
Dipping carrots in ranch is not a healthy food choice, because the ranch is unhealthy. The ranch has "cancelled out" the carrots, by adding all that fat and processed sugar & stuff, so it would be better not to have eaten that at all. Subtractive nutrition is very concerned with lessening the Bad things: calories, fats, trans fats, processed ingredients, carbs, sugar, salt, meat, non-organic foods - whatever their current trend of "healthy eating" says will kill you.
On the other hand, the Additive view (which I think is more sensible) looks at the carrots & ranch snack and says, you ate some carrots! Carrots are objectively good for you, and you got that nutrition into your body. Good job! Sure, you also ate ranch, which nobody thinks is a health food, but a) the carrots are still definitely in there, nourishing you, and b) the ranch made you more likely to eat them, and enjoy them, and so eat them again in the future. Ranch also provides essential nutrients, regardless of whether it's the ~optimal~ way to get them.
Additive nutrition looks at your day and sees what nutrients you consumed, any that are helpful. Any good choices you make, regardless of if there are also bad ones. What's good, and maybe let's not go overboard on "Bad" stuff if we're really worried about it, but what did you eat that helped you? Eat food that serves you, and if you can put in more good things that's great! But if you have ice cream afterwards, it doesn't rip the kale out of your stomach. It just means you had ice cream today, and also you had kale.
And while Additive thinking helps with motivation, because it gives you little mental gold stars for lots of things, and doesn't take any away or call for shame if you do eat all the nachos, it really comes into play in decisionmaking, and weighing options. Subtractive thinking says, don't eat broccoli with cheese sauce, the sauce is bad for you. Just eat the broccoli, plain, steamed, with maybe a little low-salt seasoning mix. But let's be real - you're not going to do that. Or at least, not very often, not if you're starting from "I don't like broccoli unless it's covered in cheese sauce". Subtractive thinking says take ALL the bad stuff out, and make only the Correct choices, and then you're being healthy. Otherwise you might as well not have bothered.
Additive nutritional thinking says the broccoli with cheese sauce is adding broccoli to your diet where it would not otherwise have been. It's not a choice between plain broccoli and cheesy broccoli, not really. Really the choice is, do I add some broccoli to my diet today, along with tasty sauce, or do I not eat broccoli at all, because that's what I would be doing otherwise?
9 EFFECTIVE TIPS OF WEIGHT LOSS
1. drink more WATER
2. eat only when HUNGRY
3. drink less SODA
4. control food PORTIONS
5. exercise MORE
6. keep food DIARY
7. eat your VEGGIES
8. build MUSCLE
9. get enough SLEEP
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