The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 29, 2013

Nutrition is not a fad

Luckily I have never had to or chosen to subject myself to the world of dieting.

I have always been active throughout my life, playing sports and running and was born with a petite frame and fast metabolism.

Don't get me wrong I've got problem areas and insecurities like everyone else, but I have never been overweight.

I have always eaten relatively healthy, but never thought about it too much until the last few years. College was not my healthiest eating phase, but I was so busy competing in cross country and track that it didn't really matter what I ate.

At this time of year, a lot of people are making changes or resolutions. I decided to make it a point to cook more, using healthy recipes I found online, in cookbooks or magazines. I came across blogs on clean eating or cutting out processed foods and was inspired.

There are so many crazy diets that require cutting out entire food groups, which really doesn't seem to make sense. I was intrigued by the Paleo diet, since it was recommended as a good diet for runners and athletes. As I read on I saw that it cuts out grains and dairy. What?! A diet for runners that cuts out most carbs? How does that make sense? The dairy I could deal with. I often use milk substitutes, but I do like my yogurt every now and then. Maybe some day I will try it, but more as an experiment than anything else.

While I don't think a diet like this would hurt, unless you're vegetarian or vegan, I don't really think you need to cut out entire food groups. Not to mention cutting out large groups of foods isn't very easy to sustain and can make social outings or gatherings where food is involved a bit awkward. Clean eating seems like the most sensible diet, focused on whole natural foods.

I spoke to a nutritionist for an article recently and it didn't surprise me when she didn't recommend any diets except following the USDA Choose My Plate campaign, which focuses on portion size and balancing your plate with all food groups.

I am not a health expert, but I do know a thing or two about health and fitness. I have been running since I was 16 and discuss health issues with experts almost daily.

If you want to cut out entire food groups, good luck with that. The best thing you can do to improve your nutrition is eat balanced portions of all food groups, focus on whole natural foods, cut back on processed food and make an effort to prepare your own meals whenever possible. Look up recipes, find deals and have fun with food!

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