“Total” Diet – the End of the Good vs. Bad Food Debate

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently published a journal article about its view of the Total Diet – a balanced approach to healthy eating. According to the Academy (or AND for short), all foods can fit into a healthful eating style.

If you’re like me, I typically associate some of my favorite foods with guilt and negative feelings (the Dunkin’ Donuts that are always calling my name, French fries, a delicious milkshake from Cook Out). If you do, you and I are certainly not alone in this. The majority of Americans have the habit of putting foods into two very black and white categories: good or bad. This mindset leaves very little gray area or wiggle room. According to Best Health Magazine, the #1 reason for diet failure is because diets are too strict and participants end up binging on the food they were not supposed to eat. With this new Total Diet Approach, it is stated that labeling foods as either good or bad causes bad eating behaviors. A startling 82 percent of individuals surveyed remarked that “resistance to surrendering favorite foods” as the reason for not eating healthier. By eliminating the bad stereotypes that so many people associate with food, it allows much more lenience and freedom for food choices.

This diet approach acknowledges the fact that a lot of factors influence the food a person eats, such as lifestyle, cultural and ethnic health concerns, and food preferences. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics emphasizes a few points in the journal article about how to fully embrace the total diet:

– Don’t focus too much on daily nutrient numbers; an individual needs at least a week’s worth of this information to get a complete feel for the nutritional quality of a diet
– Get rid of that good/bad food mentality!
– Focus more on getting proper nutrients from food instead of supplements or pills
– Eliminate the monotony in your diet; aim for 24 good food choices throughout the week

The Total Diet is made possible by just a few key things: moderation, portion size control, and physical activity. It allows the individual much more of a range for their food choice and the eliminated stress of constantly analyzing and scrutinizing what they eat.


 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
 Yahoo Health
 Best Health Magazine


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