There are so many “sources” of information these days. You can search for any type of information on the Internet. What you read is published by all sorts of people. Some are experts (“displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience“) some are journalists, and some are simply “bloggers”.

For many consumers, sorting out the truth becomes too challenging and people believe what they want to believe, requiring no “proof” (and siding with pseudoscience). Perhaps they get results, and are fine with just that. Others may become cynical since there is so much spin in the news, so they toss their hands in the air stating “I don’t care what I eat!”.

How about siding with common sense (“sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts”) to guide your health and diet decisions for the new year? A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Of course I prefer science-based medicine and science-based nutrition practice, but common sense can go a long way too, and the guidelines I provide are science-based.

While diets that promote a low carbohydrate intake (Wheat Belly, Atkins, Taubes) will continue to be popular for many as a way to control weight, I prefer to prescribe a more rounded diet, and only would prescribe a specific diet to an individual I had the opportunity to meet with in person for a full nutrition assessment. For instance, while some individuals experiencing metabolic syndrome may not tolerate as much carbohydrate as others, other people can consume bread products without problem, maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. What’s more important for everyone, is how other foods balance out the diet.

Common sense tips for improving your diet over the new year:

  1. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Include a piece of fresh fruit at each meal and/or for a mid-meal snack. Try cooking veggies in new ways – get a new cookbook, search for recipes online – food needs to taste good for most people to want to eat it. Try adding pureed vegetables or fruits to dishes. To keep grain portions in check, make simple changes on occassion like substituting fruit or cucumber slices for crackers when having cheese.
  2. Choose lean sources of protein. Fish, skinless poultry, lean beef and pork (loin cuts, fat trimmed), beans, nuts, eggs.
  3. Find out how many calories you need daily, and work on that goal. An easy estimate: Multiply your (adult) weight in pounds times 11-12. Work on one small goal at a time. Or, for a more accurate estimate, see a registered dietitian who can do a full nutrition assessment
  4. Include grains in your diet. But don’t go overboard. A true analysis of anyone’s diet who makes the change to either eliminate or severely reduce all bread and grain products, would likely show that their diet was heavy on processed grains, fat, or included more servings daily than needed prior to the change. If you work on goal #1, you will more easily reduce portions from the grain group.
  5. Drink plenty of water. About 48-64 ounces daily is a good ballpark goal for most adults. Be aware that fluid intake does include coffee and tea, but that caffeine is a natural diuretic (pulling water away from your body), so include some pure water as well.
  6. Don’t buy into diet fads, or all-or-nothing approaches. Adopt a diet and lifestyle that you can stick with. For some, but not all, the low carb lifestyle may work.
  7. Cook more. I believe that preparing food for yourself is one of the best methods to truly appreciate the importance of nutrition. Find some time during the week to peruse recipes, get to the grocery store, buy whole food, and chop, prepare, and cook it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or time-consuming, but find recipes with whole ingredients (not canned soups for instance).