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The Four "Avoids" of a Healthy Diet

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1 The Four "Avoids" of a Healthy Diet on 30th November 2009, 3:41 pm

There are a lot of dieting tips floating around, and a lot of people who want to lose weight believe them for different reasons. Even nutritionists are solidly divided on the differences in nutrients and when we eat them. I can’t tell you who is right and who is wrong, but I can tell you that I received this advice from my personal trainer, Rich Barretta, a former Mr. America who trains some of the world’s most beautiful people (Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, David Blaine – it’s kind of neat who you can bump into at his gym). If it works for them, I believe it can work for a lot of people.

Rich says “Diet is a noun, not a verb.” These are the four things Rich told me to avoid for a healthy diet, and how I frame them in my mind:


1. Avoid drinking. This is a hard one for many people, including myself, as a drink is the standard currency of American social life. If you want to make a friend, you buy a person a drink. If you’re celebrating, you have a drink. Watching football? Relaxing after work? Drink, drink, drink. Unfortunately, there are a ton of carbs and empty calories in booze. It’s easy to drink an extra thousand calories (50% of the average person’s daily need) in a night on the town.


2. Avoid fried food. Grill it, bake it, broil it – just don’t fry it. Once something is fried, you’re pretty much rolling the dice on how healthy it turns out. It's a way of taking a perfectly healthy food, and making it a little crappy. You fry some perfectly healthy chicken and now it has 1,000 calories. Depending on what you’re frying, you might be burning fat-soluble vitamins right out of it. And if you’re eating fried restaurant food in a place that hasn’t banned trans fats, now you’re raising your risk of heart disease.


3. Avoid high-calorie carb foods after six. Rich shares this philosophy with a lot of trainers and body builders, who believe that you should only eat high-calorie carb foods early in the day so that you can spend the rest of the day burning them off. Otherwise, if eaten at night, the carbs will go unused and could potentially be stored (turned into fat). Rich suggests only eating meats and veggies after 6 p.m. While vegetables do have carbs, Rich’s rule only applies to avoiding high-calorie carb foods: potatoes, rice, pastas, breads – things that appear in the top of the food pyramid.


4. Avoid processed foods. For the typical person, this is the hardest tip to follow. This means: no high-fructose corn syrup (in a lot of seemingly healthy foods, especially cereals), no MSG (often used in that “healthy” Chinese food you’re eating), no white flour, no blanched foods (those frozen french fries…), no processed sugar, no processed sugar substitutes, no sodas, no Lean Cuisine, no Healthy Choice, no meal-replacement or energy bars, no honey-roasted peanuts. Rich’s advice: everything you need to eat is located around the outside of the grocery aisles – like fresh meats, veggies, and produce. Most of the stuff in the aisles, you should avoid. If it says “organic” on the label, you’re probably pretty safe. Here's more info on foods you should avoid.


If this all seems a little draconian, Rich says to remember these are the four avoids. Rich concedes that it’s fairly impossible to not do any of these entirely but, in general, they should be avoided. So if you catch yourself eating a hotdog, it’s not the end of the world. Just remember it’s a special occasion, and keep the four avoids in mind.

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2 Re: The Four "Avoids" of a Healthy Diet on 30th November 2009, 4:04 pm

This guy sounds very sensible. I would like him however to come to my place and cook and shop for me...coz I don't have time for this hee hee!

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