Diet isn't really that difficult. Eating right isn't that complicated.
Author Michael Pollan offers some simple advice for would-be right eaters. It's really just three rules: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
- Eat food: this means that if you are purchasing something that your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize or otherwise know which hole to stick in, this may not actually be food, but convenience or "fun" food that is closer to construction materials than actual nutrition.
Space Food Sticks comes to mind. I am often confounded by the modern-day supermarket. It can be very difficult to actually find the food. Mostly what you have are convenience products with bright labels and the appearance of something that your grandmother might cook. Not true. I'm not afraid of chemicals, everything can be reduced to some scary sounding poly-dy-methyl-chlorate-oxide type molecule thingy. However when the ingredients listed are predominately items that are not otherwise recognized as "food", move on!
- Not Too Much: this is a common approach in Asia. They believe that many digestive disorders arise from overeating. In fact, in Japan, they espouse the so-called "Hara Hachi Bu" which means that you stop eating when you're 80% full.
When Americans stop associating portion size with value this may take off. Some restaurants are already beginning to limit the size of their portions. I think that this is a savvy economic decision. Fat people take up more room, hence less tables can fit in the establishment. More thin people can fit into a single dining room giving rise to greater sales potential. I know, it's a stretch. Take it from a thin guy, I would MUCH rather pay $25 for a meal that I can finish than a meal that I cannot. There's part of me that doesn't want to waste food and one can't always take things home in a doggy bag. For one thing, I don't own a dog. Also, not everything reheats well, travels well, or otherwise makes it home in one piece.
This idea of eating until you're 80% full makes a lot of sense to me. I've noticed a little body-language clue as to when that mark has been met. When people lean back away from their food. That's their body saying "enough". That's when you should stop eating. There may be more room, and there may be more food on the table, but if you want to lose weight comfortably and healthfully, this is where you want to stop eating. You lean back, you stop eating. Simple.
- Mostly Plants: the author in this radio report stated that most vegetarians are more healthy than meat-eaters. I'm not entirely sure about this. I've seen plenty of vegetarians who are anemic and otherwise deficient. Meat eaters are excessive (weight, cholesterol, etc.). However looking at the needs of our American society, there is little doubt as to the benefit of eating more plants than is currently done.
In Asia, meat is expensive and otherwise not a central part of the diet. Incidentally, not everything in Asia is healthy or something to emulate. However, the way that they position their meat on the plate is a good start for us meat-happy Americans. On their plates, the meat is off to the side, where we would put our condiments or mashed potatoes. The central item on their plate or bowl will be their rice, noodles, or grain. This is a good start, though "In Defense of Food" author suggests that more importance be placed on the leaves over the seeds (grains). We get enough grains, we need more leaves.
Make the fruits and veggies the central focus of your plate, put the grains and meat toward the side and you'll be well on your way to serving the perfect meal to invite me over to help eat.
Remember, eating meat isn't bad for you, really. Eating nothing but meat is and grains is. [source]