What’s your “thing” about food?

I was having a conversation last night. It was with a man who is about 60 years old and in pretty decent shape. He might have some weight to lose but nothing crazy. He has a physical job which helps keep him in decent shape. At one point he asked me about nutrition. He asked me in different words, but it’s a question I hear some version of all the time:

What is your “thing” about food?

You see, there are approximately 1,000,000,000,000 different “things” about food out there.

  • Low-carb
  • Keto
  • Paleo
  • South Beach
  • Cleanses
  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Weight Watchers
  • Raw
  • Detox
  • No Fruit
  • All Fruit
  • Liquid Diets
  • HCG
  • Blood Type Diet
  • Intermittent Fasting
  • a s**t ton more

The list goes on and on and on and will only stop when the weight-loss industry is no longer the multi-billion dollar monstrosity it currently is.

Well, what are you supposed to make of all this and what about the original question:

What is your “thing” about food?

Let me first say this. One of the things that bothers me most about all this is that there are people who profit greatly from making this all seem very confusing. It shouldn’t be. In fact the simpler it is, the better the chance it will actually work. Please remember that the next time you want to try out a diet that has you taking periodic lab tests to let you know if it’s safe to eat tomatoes this month.

What I’d like to do today is give some basic strategies on which you can build your nutrition program. In other words I’m going to let you know what my “thing” about food is.

Let’s get started.

You ready?

This is going to be pretty deep.

Get ready for some knowledge bombs!!

You should do some jumping jacks to warm up for this.


Here we go.

I’m excited!!

In 3…


1 and 1/2…




Your diet should be comprised mainly of high-quality nutrient dense foods. That means lean protein, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and an appropriate amount of starches.


No seriously, that’s it.

I mean it.


Yeah, nothing about carbs giving you cancer or everything but carbs giving you cancer or insulin blowing you up or nightshades or only eating organic kale or taking my super-special raspberry ketone coffee bean supplements for only $49.99 a week or not eating anything that was made more than 4.5 miles from your house or blah blah blah blah blah…..

That’s all I have. Sorry.

I know that just writing this:

“Your diet should be comprised mainly of high-quality nutrient dense foods. That means lean protein, fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and an appropriate amount of starches”

isn’t going to fill up a book that rockets to the top of the best-seller lists but it’s all I have.

I can see you’re a little disappointed.

I kind of feel bad, now.

OK. Let me explain.

Let’s start here. In 2014 an Journal of the American Medical Association study showed that any diet works. High carb, low carb and everything in between. You can read about it here:


In case you don’t feel like reading it, the key finding is this:

“In an analysis of data from nearly 50 trials including about 7,300 individuals, significant weight loss was observed with any low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet, with weight loss differences between diet programs small, findings that support the practice of recommending any diet that a patient will adhere to in order to lose weight.”

In other words, any diet that a person will stick to can work.

We are all different. We like different foods, we have different schedules, we have different lifestyles, we have different priorities, we have different food sensitivities, we have different goals, etc. Given all of this, there can’t be one “magic” diet that will fix everyone.

Billy has a schedule that allows for him to eat six meals a day. Lucinda works at a job that doesn’t allow her to take 3 or 4 breaks each day so all she can do is lunch. Harvey is severely lactose intolerant so any dairy is out of the question, but Josephine loves her cottage cheese each night. Which diet is correct? All of them!

Let me give you a few quick guidelines to think about when putting together your nutrition plan.

  1. It’s all about you! As I said before it all works but you have to find out what works best for you. Look at the foods you like, how different foods make you feel, your schedule, your goals and needs, and very importantly, your willingness to do it! If you don’t want to go low-carb, please don’t! You don’t have to. Remember that everything works as long as you apply it!
  2. Consistency is everything. Everything does work, but only if you do it consistently. In this case we’re looking at about 85%. In other words count all the meals you eat in a week. Include every single one, snacks and all. 85% of those should be according to your plan.
  3. Beware of diets that demonize food. Let me say this in as straightforward a way as I can. You can be perfectly healthy eating meat, carbs and dairy. You can also be perfectly healthy NOT eating meat, carbs and dairy. Or any combination of the three. Any diet that tells you that any one type of food is bad for everyone or one type of food is good for everyone is probably a diet that uses itself as more of a religion that a sustainable diet. Of course, if that works for you in a successful and sustainable way, then GREAT! Keeping doing it! Just know that it doesn’t necessarily work that way for everyone else.
  4. Think long-term. What good is a diet that loses you fifteen pounds in three weeks if you put that fifteen pounds back on in the next three weeks? If you can’t see yourself sticking with a diet (or at least a pretty close version of it) for a long time, you are setting yourself up for failure.
  5. Know what success is. When losing weight, 1-2 pounds a weeks is what you’re looking for. I know it doesn’t sound sexy but this is what will work long-term and, most importantly, losing weight this way will allow you to keep it off more successfully. There are all sorts of physiological reasons for this that I don’t want to get into here.
  6. Nuts and bolts. If you’re eating high-quality nutrient dense foods, your plate should look something like this. This doesn’t mean this is exactly perfect for everyone, but if you start here and make whatever personal adjustments you need using the guidelines above, you’ll be on the right track. 

This all may seem pretty simple but remember what I said before. It should be. The simpler it is, the easier it will be to stick to and THAT is what truly matters. Not whether your blood type determines you should eat zuchinni or not.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley