Diet fads appear every January and February. By mid-March, many dieting attempts to control weight with cabbage, grapefruit or celery have been scrapped and fed to the garbage disposal. Expensive efforts to eat only meat and high fat foods or supplements have been successful but without behavior changes, the weight returns.

With a higher number of people in the work force, more people are using their expendable income to eat out or convenience foods. They are too busy to prepare meals at home, and healthy choices often lose out to quick and easy selections.

Today, there is a general interest in smart food choices, consumers are savvier but they are also more confused. The internet has all the answers but often the responses are too general and not specific enough.

People want a no-no list to stay healthy. They just want a yes-yes list to check off for immediate results. Unfortunately, a healthy meal plan is not that simple. Balancing food wants and needs takes a well thought out and daily planned meal strategy.

The first thing to realize is that your body does not need as much food as you think it does. The body operates on a supply and demand principle. The demand for energy to fuel the body throughout a day needs nutrition to sustain it. Any additional food consumed is stored for another day, but another day returns with extra calories as well. Thus, the demand is less than the supply and the storage of extra energy requires bigger clothes to cover the excess.

The second issue to address is the demand for energy. Young people require more calories than older folks because metabolism slows down and activity decreases with aging. If a person wants to continue to eat as much as they did when they were younger, then they need to move their body more.

Next, the foods and drinks that are consumed need to have maximum nutrition from the fewest number of ingredients. This removes many convenience processed foods from the mix. Before ordering from a restaurant menu ask if an item is made in-house or from a kit or container. When purchasing food from the grocery store look for ingredients that are pronounceable. The fewer the ingredients in a product, the healthier it usually is.

Eating healthy food is a daily decision. Spending money on whole foods instead of restaurant or convenience selections saves the budget and health. Adding additional exercise enhances healthy habits.

In short, reduce portion sizes of foods; eat and drink half the amount of sugar than usual; reduce the amount of high fat foods daily; increase fiber with beans and other vegetables; consume simple foods and stay away from items in boxes or cans. The closer the food is to the original state, the healthier it will be.

A person with a few extra pounds who follows healthy guidelines is less likely to experience chronic disease than another person who is within their ideal body weight and eats highly processed foods and junk foods.


Bobbie Randall

Contributing columnist

Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected].

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