01/29/2015 12:04 pm ET Updated Mar 31, 2015

Confused About What to Eat? 8 Strategies for Healthy Eating and Weight Loss


It's hard to believe there was ever a time when diet books didn't exist, when home-cooked meals were the norm not the exception, and when people intuitively ate what was good for them. With the plethora of information available today about food, diet and nutrition, we should all be healthier than ever, but instead we're just more confused about what to eat or not to eat!

I've been a foodie all my life. It started as a passion for cooking (and eating) and later became a continuing quest for information on nutrition and health. During my certification as an integrative health coach at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I heard equally convincing arguments and studies to back up every kind of diet or eating principle. Hence, one week, I was a devout vegan and the next a devouring carnivore! Ultimately, I realized that although there were as many conflicting opinions as there were diets, there were also commonalities across all the diets. These turned out to be the most basic, simple, common sense eating principles that were practiced by generations past but have since been overshadowed by the current food industry's quest for big profits.

Below are eight strategies for healthy eating and weight loss that can be modified based on your belief system, your personal preferences and your individual body. Try a couple and watch the magic happen!

1. What to eat more of: Mainly whole foods grown in the earth, not in the lab. That means colorful fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen), whole grains and legumes (beans). Veggies should take up at least half your plate. Meat and poultry should be lean and organic. Fish should be wild, not farmed. Fats should be healthy (avocado, olive oil, coconut oil).

2. What to drink: Lots of filtered (not necessarily bottled) water, tea, one glass of wine with a meal, one cup of coffee/day, sparking water if you need some fizz.

3. What to eat less of: Sugar in any form and white (wheat) flour. These are both inflammatory agents, which contribute to disease and weight gain. You might want to eliminate them totally.

4. What to never eat: HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), trans fats (hydrogenated... anything), soda and other sweetened drinks, anything with ingredients that sound like chemicals.

5. What to learn: How to read a nutrition label. How to recognize all forms of sugar, chemicals and processed foods on an ingredient list. How to cook basic healthy meals, How to eat slower. How to stop eating three hours before bedtime. How to eat smaller portions.

6. What to buy: Fresh foods in the perimeter aisles of the grocery store rather than in the middle aisles where processed foods are typically displayed, organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible (check the dirty dozen list from the Environmental Working Group), organic meats, poultry and dairy, locally grown foods whenever possible.

7. What to compromise: Practice healthy eating 90 percent of the time, but leave some wiggle room to indulge or break the rules. You're only human!

8. What to know: Your body. Only you know how your body reacts to certain foods. If a certain food or diet (no matter how acclaimed it may be) makes you feel ill, bloated or gain weight, stop it.