Bob Greene
From liquid diets to the low-fat craze and no carb/low carb mania, several different diets have been embraced and then abandoned by Americans over the past few decades. Bob talks with Dr. Alice Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University, about the shortcomings of trendy diets and the healthy way to lose weight.

Dr. Lichtenstein says several highly restrictive fad diets have failed for obvious reasons. "It is just not feasible for people to stick to them for long periods of time," Dr. Lichtenstein says. During the '80s and '90s, fat was the enemy for many people and Dr. Lichtenstein says the low-fat diet was a big mistake. "Not only did people cut the bad fats—the saturated fats—they also cut the good fats—the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat," Dr. Lichtenstein says. A backlash of sorts after the low-fat diet was the low-carb diet, which Dr. Lichtenstein says has finally died down. "I think we are in a reasonably good place because we had in such recent past the swinging from low-fat that didn't work to low-carb that didn't work," she says.

Dr. Lichtenstein says the best diet for you is the one she and other nutritionists have been recommending for years. "You've got to be moderate in your fat and carbohydrate intake while maintaining a healthy body weight and eating those healthy kinds of fats and carbohydrates," Dr. Lichtenstein says. "It's not a sexy message, but it is a message that is consistent and probably the most accurate one."

Here is what Dr. Lichtenstein says you should eat to maintain a healthy diet:
  • Fifteen percent of your calories should come from protein, 25 to 35 percent from fat and the rest from carbohydrates.
  • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat and nonfat dairy, legumes, fish and lean meat should all be incorporated into your diet.
  • If you are a vegetarian, the general rule is to combine a grain with a bean for high-quality protein in the place of meat.
  • Soybean, canola, olive, safflower, sunflower and corn oil are all healthy oils you should use when cooking and preparing foods.