If you read my blog here or other articles that I’ve written over the years, or listened to my lectures, you’ll know that I am a pretty reasonable dietitian. Strict diets, or one-size-fits-all meal plans simply don’t work. They sure wouldn’t work for me, and I doubt they work for most of you. Defining some foods as “bad” and others as “good” also doesn’t work since we all eat a variety of different foods in different portions, and different frequencies.
Your “chicken wings” may be someone else’s “cheesecake” – both high in calories and fat, and neither part of your balanced daily diet. In other words, they should be considered “treats” (something that you splurge on less than once a month). Life is short. Rather than obsess about what the latest diet fad is, or what you shouldn’t eat – just eat foods that you enjoy and you know are healthy. I am certain that most people know what healthy food looks like (and it includes way less gravy and vegetables on the plate right? Yes). Instead of worrying about “butter or margarine spread”, just eat reasonably small amounts of both. You can’t go wrong with variety.
As I continue to read the stats about diabetes and obesity, I think it’s important to share with you the reasons I continue to do what I do (delivering the basic facts about diet and nutrition via writing, speaking, blogging). As you step into a new year, consider these points when evaluating what you should eat:
- Diet does play a role in your health. What you eat fuels your body. If not done properly, your body won’t function at it’s best. Nutritional needs vary through the life cycle. What’s “ok” for a teen boy to eat is not okay for a 50 year old man or a 5 year old. This is where your dietitian steps in.
- Don’t diet. There are several different types of “diets” that “work”, but they are all essentially based on a few key principles: controlled calories, include plants, limits meats, limits “junk”, includes exercise. Work on changing your behavior, moving more, and adding nutrient-rich foods into your diet instead of following a “strict diet” or eliminating foods.
- Diet alone is not the fountain of youth. We seem to be obsessed with “not aging”. The anti-wrinkle creams, the face lifting, extreme belly fat dieting, the promises to “look 10 years younger”. Nothing you eat or drink is going to cure you or kill you. And as you get older, guess what? You are aging! Don’t fall for quick fixes that promise youthfulness or some sort of “detoxification” (your colon is dirty business – a “juice cleanse” isn’t going to “clean it out” exactly).
- Genetics plays a huge role in health – but we can control some things to lessen our risk of many diseases, or minimize the impact of them – don’t smoke, include healthy foods, move your body daily, practice stress reduction activities such as deep breathing or meditation.
- Move your butt. While obesity is a multifactorial problem, and every obese person may have a variety of metabolic dysfunction, there is absolutely no question that every American is moving much less on a day to day basis than they were in 1975. Get out of the chair, and move. I’m not talking exercise – I’m talking movement. Don’t use a leaf blower, use a broom or rake, clean the house, go up and down the stairs a few more times. Walk instead of drive. Take regular “get up” breaks from your desk chair every 20 minutes. Just move more. It counts.
Top 3 Worst Fads that I Do Not Endorse:
- Juice cleanses/Detox. These diets can range from consuming only juiced vegetables and fruits to special injections, fasting, or colonics. There is absolutely NO scientific basis for these types of regimes to “cleanse” your body. If your kidneys and liver are healthy, your body is “detoxed” everyday. Period.
- Very low calorie diets or diet that focus on only a few foods (grapefruit diet, many low-carb diets, raw food diets). These diets can work in the short term but not for the long haul because they aren’t sustainable. If you don’t enjoy what you are eating, you can’t sustain it. If what you are eating isn’t providing you with the energy you need, you can’t sustain it. A successful diet plan is defined as one that is balanced and healthy, that you can adhere to for life.
- Miracle ingredients or foods. Thanks to Dr. Oz, people have flocked to special supplements (raspberry ketones anyone?) or foods. This is all a big fat hoax. There is no miracle food or diet cure. A cup of tea can be healthy and relaxing, but it’s not a cure-all for anything. Nor is a teaspoon of vinegar or any other nonsense like that. Can some of these foods be part of a healthy diet? Absolutely, but they aren’t a cure-all in and of themselves.
Just don’t go there.
The DASH Diet has been ranked #1 for the past 3 years so be on the lookout for the 2015 ratings. We wrote books based on this diet plan because it is science based (that is, good research has been done to show that it’s a healthy diet that can lower blood pressure, control diabetes and weight). It’s truthful. It’s sustainable.
Use the DASH Diet to set your dietary goals for 2015 and you can’t go wrong. It’s that simple. End of story.
Happy New Year!