June 13, 2008

Kicking Diet Books and Health Myths

by Sharon Gruber, Nutrition Consultant.

"Keep it simple." It's advice that works on many fronts in life, including eating well.
Our country becomes obsessed with one diet, then quickly does an about-face and pledges allegiance to a completely different approach. Here are some cries from the pages of diet books and health magazines in the past few years:

  • "Don't eat chocolate!"
    "Eat dark chocolate; if it's dark it's actually really good for you."
  • "Go fat-free."
    "There are healthy fats you should be sure to have."
  • "Make sure you get 6-11 servings of carbohydrates a day."
    "Don't eat carbs! You'll lose your belly fat if you go on a no-carb or low-carb diet."

And the list of contradictions goes on... and on...and on...

Here's an alternate, sanity-boosting, keep-it-simple food plan for maintaining health.
(Disclaimer: This is for maintaining health and helping to avoid illness, not a personalized plan appropriate for someone with illness. And although it's an enormous generalization, the majority of us would be better off if we followed this advice most of the time.)

So here it goes:

  • Eat real food -- the way it comes in nature. (Grains start out brown, not white. Corn means actual kernels of corn, not high-fructose corn syrup.)
  • Enjoy lots of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. They (mostly vegetables) should be half your plate.
  • Eat true portion sizes, likely much smaller than you'd think.
  • Eat on a schedule every three or so hours of daylight. This means to start with a satisfying breakfast upon awakening, to have light snacks between meals, and to resist snacking in the middle of the night.
  • Meat should be a side dish, not the main part of one's plate.
  • Enjoy water and tea as your primary beverages.
  • Buy food as fresh as possible, and when canned or frozen, with as few other ingredients as possible. Add your own seasonings so you control the amount of salt and don't end up with a long list of additives.
  • Food is for enjoying. Eat it slowly, and with friends and family when possible.
Bon appetit!

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