What is a Good Diet?

You cannot out train a bad diet. I probably say that at every consult and no one ever flinches.

It’s easy to identify a bad diet—it’s everything that feels good to eat: refined sugar, excess salt, processed food, and saturated fat.

There’s a reason we love those foods, we are biologically programmed to be physically rewarded by them. There isn’t, nor has there ever been, a person on the planet whose body doesn’t reward them when they eat a high-sodium, calorie-rich meal. Next time you meet that health nut who claims he’s grossed out by McDonalds or whatever rich food he turns his nose up at, remember he is lying to you and likely to himself.

A good diet isn’t made or sustained by deprivation, starvation, or self-punishment. It is about controlling your encounters with food and understanding your reward pathways.

I am a big believer in moderation and use food as a reward in my own life. Would you believe I enjoy a cheeseburger and fries when the mood strikes?

What sets a healthy diet apart is choosing good foods as your main diet. Once that is in place—you should engage your reward pathways! But, it has to be just that, a reward for something you’ve earned.

So what are daily diet “good” foods? Well, to be specific, the bulk of your fridge and pantry should consist of the following:

• Leafy, non-starchy vegetables (skip the potatoes and corn)
• Fruit (stock up! Include lemons for low-sodium flavor)
• Raw, unsalted nuts (almonds and cashews are winners)
• Limited carbohydrates (less is more, choose whole grains)
• Natural Fats (nuts, avocado, flaxseed, olive oil)
• Protein:

o Meat: (all but especially pork, fish, and poultry—low sodium deli meat should always be on hand)
o Dairy: (cottage cheese, Greek or low-fat yogurt, eggs, milk, and white cheeses)
o Other: (lentils, beans, tofu, isolated soy or whey)
The goal is to engage pride as a reward. You are proud when you do something hard. It is hard to resist temptation, especially at first. It takes will-power, but it is rewarding and it certainly beats the shame and guilt that come from breaking a commitment you made to yourself.