With those never-ending platters of food and plates laden with treats that entice us from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, you may be ringing in 2016 after a period of diet-busting excess. But if you made a New Year’s resolution to eat everything in moderation, that’s one promise you should think about breaking.
“Many, many guidelines, including the U.S. guidelines, say have diversity in your diet and eat everything in moderation,” says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, senior author of a new study on the health consequences of a person’s diet. “Our study suggests that it’s not a good route to health.”
Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, found that people who ate the most different types of foods were at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and more likely to be overweight. “People who have the healthiest diets tend to eat a smaller, more limited number of the same healthy things.”
Many older adults believe if they eat one or two healthy meals a day, they can routinely indulge in something they know is unhealthy. But grabbing a hamburger and fries and washing them down with a sugary soft drink negates the benefits you get from healthy foods. “It didn’t just cancel it out, it actually reversed any healthy food in their diet,” Mozaffarian says. “There are foods that people just shouldn’t eat, or should eat very rarely, and there are foods that people should eat a lot of.”
Mozaffarian understands there are times when even the healthiest eater will stray. Just make sure you do it very infrequently. “If you want to have bacon with your eggs, it’s once or twice a month,” he says. “Pie or cakes or cookies once or twice a month at a special occasion is OK.”
If you’re looking for a specific diet to follow, Mozaffarian says foods commonly included in the Mediterranean diet can help you stay healthier. The Mediterranean diet is composed mainly of foods with healthy fats such as those found in fish and olive oil, along with lots of leafy green vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains. “That’s not restricting yourself, because those foods are actually delicious and give you better energy,” Mozaffarian says. “You feel healthier, and it gives you a better quality of life.”
For more information on the Mediterranean diet, go to nwsdy.li/meddiet