April 24, 2022

Add vs remove

Sometimes we add things when we should remove them and remove things when we should add them.

Example 1: Adding instead of removing
We add more lanes to the roads, thinking it’ll solve the traffic issue. It does for a few weeks or maybe months. And then it goes back to the previous state.

This phenomenon is known as induced demand or Braess’s paradox. More lanes encourage more people to drive so we end up with more cars on the road.

Often, in order to solve the traffic issue, we need to either reduce the number of lanes or close the roads to cars entirely. This can create wonderful results, especially when combined with public transport improvements and creation of safe biking and walking routes. 

Doing so reduces the number of unnecessary car trips, easing the congestion.

(It’s harder to reach 100% capacity when it comes to public transport, biking, or walking, because those methods of getting around simply take less space).

Example 2: Removing instead of adding
When it comes to dieting, it’s common to remove things. Nutrients like carbs or fat, for example. Or meals like breakfast or dinner. Or even some specific foods like chocolate or chips or whatever.

That usually doesn’t work. It leads to cravings, binging, messes up metabolism and health.

This is the case where instead of removing, we should try adding. 

Let’s say I love pizza and have it for dinner every night. I could either try to stop having it for dinner or skip the dinner entirely BUT there’s a different way. 

I can say to myself: “I can have as much pizza as I want but first I’ll have a really good salad”. And by salad, I don’t mean a couple of sad leafies, I mean a legit meal. Something that has vegetables, some carbs like quinoa or buckwheat, some fats like nuts or avocado, and some protein like chicken or tofu. 

And after that I can have the pizza.

Chances are I’ll not be able to have as much pizza as I would have had if I didn’t have the salad beforehand. Maybe I’ll not even want the pizza.

And since that salad is a much more balanced meal, it’ll help me get in a better shape.

So if you keep on adding to or removing something and don’t see the intended result, maybe it’s worth trying the opposite. 

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