If you’re wanting to eat healthier and, as a result, shed a few pounds, there’s no shortage of food plans, programs and diets from which to choose. While experts often say the best plan is the one you stick with, not every option is going to offer the benefits you need. To help sift through your choices, Jenny Lange, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Norman Regional Health System, shares her best practices when considering a new food or diet program.

Be a suspicious consumer.

Lange says any company, social media influencer, family member or friend who is offering nutrition advice that’s very restrictive is most likely selling something. 

“Black and white information doesn’t take into consideration what is feasible for you, your family, your preferences, time or energy,” she says. “For example, there is often misinformation regarding greens/reds supplement powders. No one really needs to pay for these to be healthy. You can get the exact same benefits from those powders that you get from eating red and green fruits and vegetables —and they don’t even need to be fresh fruits and vegetables to have the same benefits.”

Know that you can’t out-supplement a ‘poor’ diet.

In this instance, the definition of a poor diet can vary. 

“Poor diets can look like highly processed, high sugar and high fat foods,” says Lange. “And poor diets can also look like one green juice plus 13 daily supplements plus sea moss plus…insert the latest diet craze item. I often see people who are…yes, over nourished with nutrient poor foods. However, I also see many people who have succumbed to diet culture and invest their time, energy and sanity into preventing various disease states, yet are undernourishing their bodies, and thus inducing said disease states they intended to prevent.”

Live a little.

While a healthy lifestyle does require moderation, Lange says not to deprive yourself of the food items you crave. On special occasions, it’s okay to celebrate and enjoy yourself.

“However, if I feel I have been having too many sweets,” she says, “I make sure to get plenty of helpings of protein and other veggies to make sure that I am not only nourishing my body with the nutrients it needs, but honoring my body with the desserts I crave.”

Talk to a dietitian. 

If you’re serious about reaching your health goals, Lange recommends referring to a registered dietitian nutritionist for professional guidance.

“We consider the whole picture with regard to giving nutrition advice,” she says. “For example, my favorite ‘feasible’ recommendation I am often giving is to not be afraid of microwave cooking. It’s fast, easy and retains the most nutrient density in vegetables than any other method of cooking. Not to be biased, but I never see influencers recommending this as a strategy to increase vegetable consumption.”

Whether canned, fresh or frozen, Lange encourages everyone to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables for nutrient-rich meals. 

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