Q. There are so many eating plans that claim to be the best. What do you suggest that is nutritionally sound? Should I count calories, carbs, fat? There is a new “discovery” everyday and it is a challenge to separate marketing from science.
Question submitted by Kathy Kilner Ungren via Facebook

You could get whiplash if you turn your head each time a new diet claims to be the answer. Individual studies often contradict each other, which is why scientists wait for a body of research to be done before they change their recommendation. Unfortunately the media and our popular diet culture can’t wait that long, so we are stuck with a barrage of hyped up studies and fad diet books based on a grain of truth but with no real staying power.

The fact is there is no one perfect diet. Rather, there are many different ways of eating that promote health and well being. One thing’s for sure: the plan that will get you feeling and looking your best in the long run is the one you can stick to. Changes that are too extreme usually only last a few weeks. Trust your instincts as to what feels right for you and find a plan you can live with—one that provides you with a wide variety of nutritious, delicious, unprocessed foods you can enjoy.

Rather than think of food in extremes as yes/no, good/bad, I find it helpful to categorize foods into three groups:

Usually– Make these the back bone of your diet.

Example: whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, healthy oils, lean proteins and low-fat dairy

Sometimes- OK to sprinkle in, in modest portions, throughout the day

Example: 100% juices, unrefined sweeteners like honey, meats slightly higher in fat, white flour

Rarely– OK to eat small amounts on occasion

Example: bacon, cakes, fried foods

For my complete Usually, Sometimes, and Rarely food lists, and for a plan you can really stick to, check out my revised and updated Small Changes, Big Results: A Wellness Plan with 65 Recipes for a Healthy Balanced Life Full of Flavor.

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