Do you feel overwhelmed by all the “diet” advice by friends, family, and the media? You are certainly are not alone. It seems that every person you know or celebrity endorses a different “diet” and tells you that their diet is the answer to all your problems. But, in all honesty most of us simply want to feel better.

Some of the following questions might have come to your mind: “Should I do keto or paleo?” “What is intermittent fasting – can I eat?” “How much protein should I eat?” “What’s the difference between plant based, vegan and vegetarian? Should I do that?” “Will gluten free help me lose weight?” “Is fat bad or good?” All the different diet fads that have come and gone can be not only be confusing but also overwhelming.

Or maybe some of the following statements come to mind. “I know what to do but I just have to do it.” “Today’s my cheat day” “I am always tired especially in the afternoons.” “I worked out today so it’s ok to eat that cake or pizza.” Statements like this try to comfort us on the food choices that we are making at the time.

Eating a healthy diet does not have to be complicated nor is it about strict limitations, being thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather it’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving your health, and boosting your mood.

The truth is that most diets have the same basic principals – eat nutritious wholesome food, drink a ton of water and be aware of portion sizes. Yes, there are some extreme elimination diets out there but are they sustainable? Our bodies only need a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body. You don’t need to eliminate certain foods from your diet, but rather select the healthy options that you enjoy. The cornerstone of eating is to enjoy all that is as close as possible to how nature made it – did it live, grow or walk on this earth? Eat a colorful range of foods that include a protein (from a meat or vegetable source), colorful vegetables, slow nutritious carbohydrates and a source of unsaturated fat. Yes, it’s that simple. Once you learn to enjoy wholesome healthy food you will naturally and subconsciously eliminate those processed unhealthy foods. No crazy diet needed just simple foods that make you feel good and then you will realize how much better you feel.

To set yourself up for success, try to keep things simple. First shop the perimeter of the grocery store where purchase a variety of colorful food that is fresh. Don’t be overly concerned with counting calories instead think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. Focus on avoiding packaged and processed foods and opting for more fresh ingredients whenever possible.

Cooking more meals at home can help you take charge of what you’re eating and better monitor exactly what goes into your food. When you build your plate focus on ½ the plate being full of vegetables, ¼ of it a protein source and 1/8 a fat and 1/8 a carbohydrate. Some good examples of protein are legumes, poultry, fish, grass fed beef or buffalo. Enjoy carbs that will give you nutrition like sweet potatoes, fruit, quinoa, brown rice, and oats. Some good sources of fat are avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and coconut oil. Our bodies need the right portion of all protein, carb and fat plus a ton of nutrients from vegetables for optimal function. Then add in at least ½ your body weight in ounces of water and you will feel more energized throughout the day.

For national nutrition month we will be introducing more strategies to eat healthy.