Nutrition-wise blog

Principles of healthy eating

By Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. October 27, 2016

Are you confused about what diet advice to follow? Trying to keep up with discussions about the science of food and metabolism, the environmental impacts of our food system, and the influence of politics and food policy makes my head spin.

That's why I appreciate the thoughtful and commonsense words of nutrition advocates Walter Willet, M.D., Dr. P.H., and David Katz, M.D., M.P.H. They lead a team of nutrition and food system experts to outline what they call the "Oldways Common Ground Consensus."

Their message is comprehensive yet not overwhelming. I'd like to share a summary with you:

  • Food should be good for us. Food should promote health and taste good. Food connects people to their culture and to one another. So celebrate your food traditions and enjoy sharing meals with family and friends.
  • No one diet is the best. Healthy diets include more plants, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes, and less red and processed meats, sweetened foods and beverages. Healthy diets also include seafood a few times a week.
  • The food system needs to work for everyone. Too many people experience hunger and food insecurity. At the same time, there's significant waste in the food system. Food waste is not only a failure to feed the hungry but an insult to the environment as well. Our food system needs to be reformed.
  • The basics haven't changed. We don't completely understand all the details about nutrition and the role it plays in metabolism. As we experiment and learn about nutrition, however, we should not lose sight of the basic concepts of a healthy diet. In other words, one flashy headline does not discredit solid fundamentals.

Let's keep an open mind to the evolution of food and nutrition science. At the same time, we should keep practicing the basics of a healthy lifestyle. Often the best things in life are simple.

Oct. 27, 2016