It's a dietary jungle out there (beware of that growling chocolate mousse!). David L. Katz, MD, helps you hack an easy-to-follow path to great nutrition.
If your annual New Year's weight loss resolution disappears as quickly as the Champagne that prompted it, you can do something to make this year different. Start by remembering that willpower alone can't compete with millions of years of evolution. Instead of trying to change your biology, resolve to change your surroundings. Eating well is like clearing a trail through a jungle strewn with vines, creepers, and ankle-deep mud (think ice cream in the freezer, doughnuts on the way to work, pizza at the office). No matter how inspired you are to hack your way past temptations, the wild things just grow right back. But if you use your current motivation to take control of your nutritional environment, you can turn a healthier way of life into the path of least resistance.

At Home

1. Change your grocery list! Print out the list of 'better' and 'worse' nutritional choices for each food category. PDF

2. Read nutrition labels and use these pointers to guide your choices:
  • Keep your shopping cart free of anything with partially hydrogenated oil (a.k.a. trans fat).
  • Avoid "high fructose corn syrup", it's just another way to say "added sugar".
  • Choose high-fiber cereals, breads, and crackers.
  • Compare ingredient lists for different products (Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter versus Jif, for instance) and choose the one with the shortest list.
  • Make good nutrition convenient.
At Work

1. Pack an insulated snack bag with nutritious provisions, including lunch.

2. If you eat at a restaurant, stick with the healthiest options. Avoid fried foods, and if you need a fast food fix, go for a sandwich from Subway.

In Social Settings

1. When dining out, don't be timid. You have every right to ask whether that sauce contains cream and to request that they substitute whole grain bread for white or hold the cheese.

2. Before a party, eat yogurt or an apple to take the edge off your appetite. Once there, alternate alcoholic drinks (high in calories) with seltzer and choose fresh vegetables over meat- or cheese-heavy hors d'oeuvres. When invited to a dinner party, offer to bring something, then make a dish that you can eat. Or if you're comfortable with the hosts, tactfully tell them that you're dieting and might not finish everything on your plate. Being a good guest doesn't mean making yourself fat.


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