Conversations about nutrition shouldn't feel so complicated. I'm going to simplify it for you -- here's what you need to know:
1. Fad Diets Don't WorkFad diets eliminate entire food groups or have extremely strict rules. You may lose some weight at the beginning (if you can stand it), but the vast majority of dieters gain the weight back after they discontinue the diet. Eating a balanced diet with the right number of calories is the best way to watch your weight.
- Why Are Fad Diets Bad?
- How to Follow a Low-Calorie Diet
- Ten Reasons to Eat a Healthy Balanced Diet
- How Many Calories Do I Need?
2. You Probably Need More FiberAccording to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, the average person doesn't get enough fiber. You need fiber for healthy digestive system function and some types of fiber can help regulate cholesterol. Increase your fiber intake by eating whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
- Basic Nutrition: Dietary Fiber
- High-Fiber Foods
- How Much Fiber Do I need?
- Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Fiber?
3. You Probably Need More Fruits and VegetablesThis one goes right along with fiber. Few people regularly eat a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables, which is sad because they're low in calories, high in fiber and very high in various vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet by eating more salads (watch the high-calorie dressings), snack on fresh fruits, and nibble on raw veggies instead of chips.
- Getting More Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet
- Meal Planning and Cooking: Fresh Ideas for Fruit
- How Many Vegetables Do You Need Every Day?
- What is a Serving of Fruit or a Vegetable?
4. Food Packaging Labels Can Be MisleadingProcessed foods must have Nutrition Facts labels, which can help you decide if you want to buy the product. The labels describe the calorie count and nutritional content per serving of food, but you need to be careful to note the serving sizes - you may be consuming two or three servings in one sitting. You also need to be cautious with the claims that may be on the front of the packaging. These claims are used to market the product, and while they're technically accurate, they can be deceiving.
- How To Read Nutrition Facts Labels
- Are Natural Ingredients Better Than Artificial Ingredients?
- Healthy Foods: Going Organic
- Watch Portion Sizes at Meal Time
5. You Should Be Careful With Dietary SupplementsDietary supplements may seem harmless enough because you can buy them in almost any store. And generally, they are safe as long as you follow the label directions, but since they're not regulated closely or standardized, you may not be getting the dosage you expect. Some supplements, like iron, vitamin A and vitamin B-6 can cause problems if you take too much. Play it safe and speak with your health care provider before taking any dietary supplements beyond a simple multiple vitamin.
- Do I Need Dietary Supplements?
- Choosing High Quality Dietary Supplements
- Dietary Supplements: Safety and Regulation
- Benefits and Risks of Dietary Supplements
American Heart Association. "Quick-Weight-Loss or Fad Diets." Accessed March 20, 2013. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Quick-Weight-Loss-or-Fad-Diets_UCM_305970_Article.jsp.
National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. "Dietary Supplements." Accessed March 20, 2013. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/DietarySupplements-HealthProfessional.
United States Department of Agriculture and United Stated Department of Health and Human Services. "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010." Accessed March 20, 2013. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf.
United States Food and Drug Administration. "Food Labeling Guide." Accessed March 20, 2013. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm2006828.htm.