Monty Python Meaning of Life

I was struck by the commonality of many recent nutrition articles in a variety of newspaper and magazine articles. And there was actual agreement on sensible recommendations that comported with good nutrition science, at least as I read it. I’d like to summarize a few useful takeaways consistent with the advice I have offered for some years now, without the rigor of specific citations:

General Good Advice

1. Everyone who’s fat eats too much. And what they eat too much of is largely carbohydrate in the form of bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and sweets (BRPPS).

2. Sweets are not your friend. They are fine for treats. And really tasty then. But dessert beyond a sweet taste should not be a regular part of the main meal.

3. Sweet drinks such as diet Coke are a problem, because they help keep up a sweet palate so that you are more likely to indulge in too many carbohydrates and sugars that are highly caloric even though diet Coke itself has zero calories. Try Polar flavored or plain seltzers instead.

4. Three meals a day is a good thing. Eating after dinner is rarely good. One meal should hold you to the next (except perhaps for insulin-dependent diabetics).

5. Fasting every other day does not promote weight loss. You make it up on the alternate day.

Diets Fail, Vacations End

6. Dieting fails. It’s like a vacation, so you come home after 2-3 weeks. Permanent change in your dietary pattern works. You do today what you intend to do the rest of your life. You better like it. It’s like moving to Tucson. You are not returning. You better like the cactus. That just stresses the importance of learning how to eat proper meals, every day, every eating occasion and transform the old patterns.

7. Calories do count, but you don’t have to laboriously count calories at all times. You do have to learn how to construct proper breakfasts, lunches and dinners of nutritious food that you find tasty, interesting, and satisfying, and that are appropriate in terms of calories. Anyone can get a tasty, interesting and satisfying dinner if you include 500 calories more than your body needs or burns up.

8. Weigh yourself regularly so you know what is happening, and come to the weight group if you have a significant issue. People did better losing weight and keeping it off if they had groups or personal counseling and kept it up.

9. Moderate fat intake, in normal animal and dairy products, is not necessarily an enemy. High fat and processed foods are.

10. Achieve portion control and conquer episodic overeating. There are thousands of paths to proper nutrition that allow for everyone’s particular tastes and traditions. But you have to achieve portion control on a daily basis with well-balanced and satisfying food, so you are neither hungry nor feeling deprived, and you cannot undo yourself with episodic overeating several days a week. Look carefully at what you really do. Behavior change is difficult but not impossible.

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