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Feb 8, 2011 12:09 PM

The Ultimate in Healthy Eating, Nutritional Diet, and Food-Body Wellness

There seems to be a lot of controversy regarding the best, most healthful ways to eat. I don't want to open the doors to those arguments because the debate can go on ad infinitum (et nauseum)...! But I do want to know:

Where do you go for the best nutrition information on healthy eating?

Best / favorite / most helpful / reliable / most medically / scientifically-supported resources?
- Books & writers
- Articles
- Nutritionists
- anything else???

(Sure, it can depend on several diverse factors such as allergies, body types & lifestyle goals. I don't care about that. Irregardless of specific needs, I would like to know what has worked best for you!)

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  1. I generally try to go for plant fat over animal fat, and I try to get some protein and fiber into my meals and snacks. Separating fat and carbs by a few hours seemed to work for me, although I'm not sure whether that's been scientifically proven. I pretty much ignore everything else. I'm not willing to eat things that taste bad, so I read a lot of recipes and blogs and bookmark recipes that look appealing.

    1. Sort of all of the above and yet none of the above. I'm aware of the ideal/perfect diet based on the most up to date data, but I don't follow it, because I'd be miserable if I followed such a diet. And, we just don't know. The French Paradox is a good example. The French diet is unhealthy, but the health of the people doesn't reflect the diet. What's going on? We don't know.

      The best dietary advice I've come across, and one that will probably always be true, is the one from the Japanese government, which says to eat 33 different things a day.

      18 Replies
      1. re: ediblover

        33 different things a DAY? Wow! I know my Doc pushes eight veggies a day. But, I need to look into this.

        1. re: JerryMe

          Hehe. I know exactly what you mean. I consider it a good day if half my food intake is "healthy". And it does seem to be true that many people can ignore all the rules and just eat small portions.

        2. re: ediblover

          I think the "French paradox" is more about how they get away with drinking wine and eating cheese/chocolate/etc. that some of us(not me) consider "bad", not so much that it is unhealthy as a whole. If the French diet were truly unhealthy, the people would not be healthy. Also we do know; the French have ONE glass of wine or a small piece of cheese/chocolate along with their veggies and reasonable servings of protein. Fruit and yogurt are healthy. It's not really a paradox if you think about it.

          1. re: Fromageball

            Don't forget the Swiss paradox; lots of full fat dairy from alpine grass fed cows, good heart health. Good chocolates, too.

          2. re: ediblover

            Forgot to add that I received a lot of good advice from the book French Women Don't Get Fat. Basically she emphasizes to enjoy and savor your food so you don't wolf it down mindlessly, and eat good quality foods so you are satisfied.

            1. re: ediblover

              We definitely do know what is going on with the French diet. It simply isn't unhealthy. And they don't overindulge.

              Wine in moderation? Actually good for you. Ditto with dark chocolate. Cheese? Absolutely fine. They eat huge amounts of many different kinds of vegetables and a large amount of meat. Seafood is also relatively common. Lots of eggs. All good for you.
              The biggest flaw in their diet is probably the amount of grain they eat in the form of bread and pastries.

              1. re: timoftheshire

                Tim, and the Japanese eat vegetables, sea vegetables, fish and rice and yet are among the world's healthiest...would you say that the rice is a flaw also? I'm just trying to understand this "grains are bad for you" thing, that's animosity here at all...thanks!

                1. re: Val

                  What i am really, really curious about is statistics of type 2 diabetes in France or Italy (compared to the US), where people eat a BOATload of carbs - pasta being one of the mainstays on the menu, as well as rice, and lots of white bread. Neither diabetes nor obesity seems to be much of an issue in either country....


                  1. re: linguafood

                    Italy is bad, France not so much. Both better than U.S.


                    I think smaller portions and red wine with each meal matters in France, where they do not eat by the boatload the way U.S. folks do.

                    1. re: mcf

                      That's really interesting! Thx for the statistics.

                      1. re: linguafood

                        Did you take a gander at China and India? Japan is a lot worse than most folks would imagine, too. I've read about this before, and in China, two very opposite groups have the most increased diabetes and heart disease; the city dwellers eating in a more Westernized way and the poor rural folks who are dependent upon rice and are thus very malnourished, in addition to having greater physical demands in their daily lives.

                        In India, there are a lot of vegetarians, a lot of fat drenched starches and desserts so sweet that I find them literally impossibly uncomfortable to take a taste of them... added to the prestige that, for some, comes from doing no physical work, it's a recipe for disaster.

                        Here's a more concise overview:

                        1. re: mcf

                          I was blown away by the number for Russia, too. And I was surprised how low they are for Ireland.... potatoes must not be as bad, I guess.

                          1. re: linguafood

                            Oh, but they are, actually. Higher GI than table suger, IIRC. But they also eat them with a fair amount of protein, which keeps blood glucose much lower, post meal.

                            Another interesting map, somewhat off topic, is the Nations study of LDL cholesterol levels and cvd mortality; NO RELATIONSHIP. Some of the highest LDL countries have the lowest CVD mortality, and some of the lowest LDL countries have the highest. But there's a lot of money to be made convincing folks otherwise. The Pan Asian study proved that LDL was not a good predictor of CVD, either.

                    2. re: Val

                      The Japanese eat very small portions, too, and have a very significant diabetes problem.


                      1. re: Val

                        See the links below with WHO statistics; Japan has one of the top five highest in terms of diabetes cases in the world.

                      2. re: timoftheshire

                        Those aren't bad guesses. In fact, many of those were areas of research. But, years (possibly decades) and millions of dollars haven't resulted in anything conclusive. And, there's a huge difference between finding a conclusive result and forming a good, educated hypothesis.

                        On the subject of it being unhealthy, the traditional French diet, when compared to (the extremely unhealthy) American diet, has 2-3 times the amount of saturated fat, which in all the diet circles I'm aware of, is a big no-no. In fact, it's the high amount of saturated fat (higher cholesterol, likely higher cardio issues) that drew the attention of researchers in the first place.

                        It's good to think about issues, but claiming something as factual, when research hasn't shown that to be the case, is a tad reckless, even in cases where we can be fairly sure about something. That is to say, think and discuss, but please don't make 100% claims (unless it actually is, but there aren't many in biology).

                        One note about the traditional diets - It's just that, traditional. For example, if you took the traditional Mediterranean diet, it's considered to be healthy by most professionals. But, that's not really the case with what the folks there eat now. That's a big, but overlooked factor.

                        1. re: ediblover

                          I think there's plenty of conclusive evidence against grains and glycemic load, particularly when we examine clinical and even demographic outcomes.

                    3. I really like Dr. Andrew Weil...yes, he SELLS vitamins but he's been an MD who has believed in alternative medicine for years...and the advice on his website is free, you don't HAVE to buy anything from him, I don't. His anti-inflammatory diet seems very wise and good for ME, not saying it's for everyone but hell, my blood test numbers are excellent, my carotid scan was immaculate 2 months ago, I have no pain, no stiffness, I have good energy every morning and have not taken a sick day in 7 years at work at age 53. Inflammation is the beginning for so many chronic illnesses, too.

                      * is also a great resource for me and has been for years

                      * I also like a registered dietician by the name of Andrew Bellatti, I follow him on FB, much younger than Dr. Weil with some VERY very good health tips--he and Dr. Weil disagree on the benefits of coconut oil!, LOL; he has a blog called Small Bites and I think someone here on CH mentioned his blog to me a while ago, love him!
                      * has some fabulous health tips too with some great science behind the articles. AND I LOVE to cook!!! So where does that leave me?? It's all about balancing, I think!

                      23 Replies
                      1. re: Val

                        I follow several ... like Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Joe Mercola, and Dr. Arthur Agatston ... and they disagree with each other on a number of things, but in understanding where their differences come from, one can wade through the rationale. For example, I suspect Weil is anti coconut oil because he focuses on an anti inflammatory diet, and coconut oil has a highly inflammatory effect on the body (but has other health benefits).

                        1. re: CocoTO

                          I also really like Andrew Weil, he seems to do a good job of balancing modern medicine and science with alternative medicine. It bothers me a little that he sells vitamins but his articles are Not pushy about it.

                          My personal mantra is this, eat only real foods (nothing synthetic or processed) in moderation, lots of fruits and veggies, and get some exercise every day. Try not to worry too much about your health, stress kills ;)

                          1. re: Honestly Good Food

                            just a comment on the vitamin selling ... I saw Joe Mercola interviewed and he explained that, at least in part, it is to fund the free website. He says that the website costs about $500,000 per year to maintain (all the researchers etc.) so he had to make a choice. His choice was to sell things that he believes are beneficial. I imagine that Andrew Weil has the same issue. It costs to give "free" advice, so it likely offsets some of that (and yes, they're not a charity either). So while, I do my own research on supplements etc., I also appreciate having a place I trust to buy some of my supplements ....

                            1. re: CocoTO

                              You know, I'm not buying that. $500,000 per year to maintain the website? He funds research? I'm very skeptical.

                              1. re: sueatmo

                                It's a pile of BS. There are plenty of well formulated and carefully manufactured sources of those supplements. Only reason to stick one's name on them is to grab a big piece of the pie.

                                1. re: mcf

                                  mcf, just wondering...and I ask this respectfully and am not attacking here: you know Jack LaLanne got into selling juicing machines, right? Plenty of other juice machine companies out there...too...was he being greedy (which I believe means "grabbing a piece of the pie") to market his own juicer?

                                  1. re: Val

                                    Not if he didn't lie about why he was selling it. I don't fault Eade's for selling, either, but it means one has to exercise great diligence in verifying any claims for a product a medical person both sells and recommends. There are states in which that is illegal for ethical reasons in medical offices, for example.

                                    If someone unapologetically lets you know that they're making a living and a profit selling stuff, that's more ethical in my book. I don't believe the claims that the web site is that costly or that it goes to research not connected to devloping more products to sell.

                                2. re: sueatmo

                                  I don't think he's running the website out of his house. And just employing half a dozen reasonably educated people, with reasonable pay and benefits can easily get a business to $350M+. Not talking about funding research ... that would be in the millions ... don't think it's productive to assume someone is lying just because you're not familiar with their business model.

                                  And everyone in the medical profession is making money or receiving some form of incentive. Doctors are regularly wooed by the pharmaceuticals, as one example.

                                  1. re: CocoTO

                                    I have no direct knowledge of where he's running his web site or whether he's paying anyone to do anything other than ship out supplements from an off site warehouse. Do you? I actually do find it productive to understand the incentives of people I do business with, even more so if I put my health in their hands.

                                    I don't begrudge anyone a living; I just want them to be up front and tell the truth; "I'm selling this to make money." Doctors and pharma are an excellent example of the perversion of health care by profit motive; thanks for making my point.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      ... I am not intending to be argumentative. But yes, if you go to his website and see the plethora of articles he compiles and shares for free, yes, he has to be employing people to do it. And he doesn't hide the fact that he makes money.

                                      And I totally agree with you that one must do their own due diligence ... accepting the word of one source on something important is contrary to good sense.

                                      1. re: CocoTO

                                        BTW, I know a LOT of people who intensively research and post scientific articles for free. It costs them nothing but time and effort.

                                        1. re: CocoTO

                                          Per his website: "All of Dr. Weil's after-tax profits from royalties from sales of Weil Lifestyle, LLC, licensed products go directly to the Weil Foundation."

                                          It is a qualified 501(c)(3). Per its website "Since its inception in 2005, the Weil Foundation has given out more than $2 million in grants and gifts to medical centers and other non-profit organizations nationwide."


                                          You can read their financials here:

                                          You can read their IRS form 990 (what nonprofits file instead of a tax return) here: it's a matter of public record. In 2009 Weil himself (who serves as the Chairman of the foundation per statement 5, pt 8) personally contributed about $700K to the foundation (per sch B) and receives no salary or other compensation (per that same statement 5). I assume that $700K are the "profits" from the vitamins and other products. He is also the foundation's only contributor, at least in 09.

                                          They have about $30K in investment income, about $60K in administrative expenses, and gave $5K to a charity. They seem (for 2009 anyway) seem to be sitting on their pot of money. They came into the year 2009 with a $250K an unconditional promise to give of $250K and ended it with $500K. So they are at least awarding funds to other nonprofits and/or research facilities. It seems in 2009 that they just plopped another $250K unconditional promise to give on top of what they came into the year with. Per their website, in prior years it seems that they actually spent some of that money. Presumably (and hopefully) they paid out the $500K in 2010. Their 2010 return (which isn't due yet) will be interesting.

                                          I don't see who they are awarding their money to, but on the surface it all seems pretty legit. I see their financial statements are only reviewed (not audited) and they don't seem to have 2009 financials on their website at all. For 2008 the version that is on the website is an unsigned one, presumably a draft, which doesn't give me the warm fuzzies. That's a little loosy-goosy and I'm surprised their accountants allow it. The prior year statements are signed. Appears to be a small local firm.

                                          According to their financials, in 2007 they granted $1MM to a single nonprofit to be paid over 5 years. My guess is that's the UofA's Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine http://integrativemedicine.arizona.ed..., based on this story. I find these stories in local business journals to be incredibly unreliable, they basically print whatever they are told by the principals without much verification, so take it with a grain of salt.


                                      2. re: CocoTO

                                        I remain skeptical. I took a look at his website. It doesn't look like an operation that employs 6 people, unless they are sales people. I guess they have some sort of phone support. They also offer wholesale opportunities! Imagine that!

                                        In one of the newsletter articles water fluoridation is attacked. If that's where this guy is coming from, I don't find him believable.

                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                          To be fair, a recent publication came out reporting that flouride in water is discoloring and mottling teeth due to excess collection of it in them. Mainstream.

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            Fluoride has been added to our water supply locally for 30 or 40 years. I have heard of no mottling here. What Mercola was saying is that fluoride is a poison. I am old enough to remember that people actually thought that fluoridation was a Communist plot. Really I have no patience with this.

                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                              Look, we're all free to believe whatever we choose, but my original comment wasn't to debate the merits of his views, but to share why, in his words from the interview I saw, he chose a business model where he sells selective health products.

                                              A few facts (as independently measured) are that his website has 1,586,893 subscribers; it is the number 1 most visited natural health site in the world; it is the number 3 most visited overall health site which puts it ahead of the Mayo Clinic site. So please believe what you want, I'm not trying to convert you to his thinking, but I do believe that his site does merit having a half a dozen people to support it.

                                              1. re: CocoTO

                                                All of the info I'd ever seen on his site was stuff I'd already found by myself for free.
                                                Better yet, Taube's books and articles are free at the library. And the supplements are much more cheaply available at various sellers from good quality producers.

                                                When someone mixes information that's half reliable and half wild eyed speculation, it becomes impossible to know when to trust and when to dismiss it. That's why I quickly stopped reading Mercola after finding his site years ago.

                                                Your mileage may vary.

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  "All of the info I'd ever seen on his site was stuff I'd already found by myself for free.
                                                  Better yet, Taube's books and articles are free at the library."

                                                  ... all of Mercola's info is free too. I am going to stop communicating on this now because I'm really not trying to change your views, but I'm sorry, I can't let the implication that there's a fee for his info stand ....

                                                  1. re: CocoTO

                                                    I never said there was a fee. I stated that I take a dim view of specific supplement recommendations, frex, from someone selling them, whether online or brick and mortar.

                                              2. re: sueatmo

                                                Sue, the U.S. Health and Human Services recently issued a warning on current levels of fluoridation and resultant damage to teeth. I don't make stuff up!

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  I don't think you do. I'll read your link (promise) a little later. Its just that I can't pay attention to everything. I still am not interested in Dr. Mercola.

                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                    No interest in Mercola from here, either.

                                  2. re: CocoTO

                                    I never take medical advice or services from anyone with a financial incentive or product to sell as reliable, period.

                                3. Good question. I started being interested in nutrition probably 20 years ago, when I purchased Jane Brody's Good Food Book. I still have it, and use it for recipes once in a while.

                                  I've bought a few books, or borrowed them from the library. But I guess most of my knowledge comes from general reading from various sources. Usually, I'll check up (using the internet) on any information that sounds not quite right. With respect to specific foods, I do check labels. And I've gotten good stuff from Chowhound, of course, such as my love of Fage Yogurt.

                                  Websites that I use for healthful recipes are and Also, I'm a runner, and have gotten Runner's World magazine for years. That has a lot of useful information that generally suits my activity level and eating patterns.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Lexma90

                                    I do like Jane Brody too! And yes...I never would have known about Fage if it hadn't been for CH...LOVE the Fage!

                                  2. Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, best book about diet ever written

                                    22 Replies
                                    1. re: redfish62

                                      I am about halfway through this and it has already revolutionized the way I think about a healthy diet. Taubes does an excellent job with the science. The book can be a bit dense (and I am a scientist, though not a biologist/chemist/physiologist), but it's thorough and extremely well documented. One might want to read the original article that sparked his book:


                                      Sadly, I still love carbs. Just don't eat as many of them as I used to (and I've cut WAY down on the refined ones).

                                      1. re: nofunlatte

                                        He has recently come out with a "lite" version of the book that is an easier read, but I still think the original book is the way to go. I am a liberal arts major so it wasn't an easy read but it's worth the effort.

                                        I gave it to a friend who needs to lose 80 pounds, took him 9 months to get around to actually reading it but it totally convinced him.

                                        The results I've gotten:

                                        Weight went from 220 to 170
                                        Started lifting weights for first time since 1995, can bench press 225 for 12 reps, do over 200 pullups and chinups per week
                                        Running a total of 25 miles a week after not running since 1995

                                        Didn't happen overnight, took two years, but the results were pretty miraculous.

                                        Also I've learned to cook a little bit cause I don't eat the processed crap anymore.

                                        1. re: nofunlatte

                                          That is a very, very interesting article.

                                          1. re: jvanderh

                                            It is, it's part of the book. If you liked that, you might be equally interested in this one:


                                            1. re: mcf

                                              That's from my alma mater! :-)

                                              I do have to point out that correlation does not equal causation. We may be eating more carbs and less fat now, but we're also eating at least a couple hundred more calories per day than we were in 1970 and probably exercising the same or less. It seems like there's compelling evidence for people with diabetes or heart disease to at least give low carb a shot, but I'm not sure the data support it for overall weight loss. Studies seem to show that low carb wins early on, but it evens out with the low fat group over the long term.

                                              1. re: jvanderh

                                                Carbs create more hunger, so those aren't separate issues. I used to be hungry on a full stomach an hour after eating. Numerous studies have found increased caloric intake in the meal following a high carb one. Data support low carb for more weight loss on 50% more calories.

                                                Weight loss is more similar the longer the study, but carbs are also increased later on in low carb diet plans, which accounts for a lot. That plus newbie losses; it works spectacularly well in insulin resistant folks and reverses it, add that to the initial water loss, and you front load much higher losses.

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  Can you email me re: the 50% more calories study?

                                                  1. re: jvanderh

                                                    which one? it's been noted in more than one. first I recall was the Schneider Children's hospital obese peds study. Journal of Pediatrics, 2003, Sondike et al

                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      That study doesn't have calorie restrictions for either group - and the low carb group had water intake requirements and was given fiber supplements. It was also short term.

                                                      I think the data do support that low carb works really well in insulin-resistant people.

                                                      1. re: jvanderh

                                                        It works really well in anyone, though at those low carb levels, hypothyroid folks can have a problem due to reductions in T3 hormone, same as happens in very low calorie diets. Happened to me briefly the first time I tried extreme low carb, which I tolerate just fine now, years later.

                                                        I have read it in so many studies, I can't recall which ones they are, but it's often discussed and excuses made like "it's all water loss, etc." I used fitday to document every crumb I ate for years. Anecdotally, I can tell you it was exactly 50% more calories to maintain my weight on low carb vs. low fat/high carb. I suspect it's because fat stimulates neither insulin (fat storage hormone) nor glucagon (raises bg, opens fat cells to storage). Sorry I don't have the full text; I do recall a press release in which they discuss the fact that the low carbers ate 50% more and lost, IIRC, twice as much weight.

                                                        Here's an interesting discussion of why different calories matter differently:


                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                          So the data AND ghg support the theory. It's pretty much bulletproof, isn't it? :-P

                                                          I'm relatively willing to accept that a calorie is not a calorie. At the very least, there's sufficient evidence that our food intake can affect our metabolism, so I think it's entirely plausible that different configurations of the same calories can have different effects. I think eating 3,000 calories in a sitting four times a week with no food in between would cause you to gain more weight than eating a few hundred calories every few hours. I trust you when you say that you could eat 50% more calories. But if you exhibited insulin resistance, that doesn't necessarily extend to the population in general. And I wouldn't be surprised to see studies that show people can eat 50% more on low carb, but I bet they're short studies.

                                                          1. re: jvanderh

                                                            I was extremely IR, brought on by the Ornish diet, when I went lower and then low carb, definitely. But it's over 10 years later, I have exquisitely low fasting insulin and can still eat much more than I could on the other diet. So as an N of one, it's not the short term gain at work here, it's the way your calories influence your hormonal status.

                                                            1. re: jvanderh

                                                              So the data AND ghg support the theory. It's pretty much bulletproof, isn't it? :-P
                                                              ha! thanks for the vote of confidence :)

                                                              believe it or not, your 3,000 kcal example probably *wouldn't* cause weight gain in someone whose body & hormones had adjusted to it. many of the people in this country are over-fed, so anything above a certain threshold in one sitting can lead to fat storage and weight gain because their bodies just don't need to metabolize that much energy or absorb those nutrients for survival or proper function - that's why i usually tell my clients to limit *any* meal to 500 or 600 kcals max unless they're training for an event or have the metabolism of a growing teenager, Lance Armstrong or Michael Phelps. but if you're *only* feeding it the way you proposed, the body can adapt to make the most of what it gets, and if you measured it over a period of time you most likely wouldn't see weight gain in the person in question.

                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                I guess that makes sense. If your body is used to eating on any schedule, even an unusual one, it can learn to produce insulin on that schedule. Although the observation by many weight-loss people that overweight people tend to starve and binge seems to be true.

                                                                So, IS there any hard-and-fast, irrefutable evidence that all calories are not created equal?

                                                                1. re: jvanderh

                                                                  That's actually exactly how insulin production works; your body produces for meals based upon expectations, or priming by earlier meals.

                                                                  If you look at the variable effects that protein, fat, and carbs have on hormone secretion, it's very evident that there's no way to make a case for all calories meeting the same fate.

                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                    So if protein and fat don't cause as much insulin secretion as carbs, how does that explain the phenomenon?

                                                                    1. re: jvanderh

                                                                      It's not entirely that simple with protein, because it does cause a very strong insulin response, but not a sudden gusher the way carbs do, it's sustained over hours as protein very slowly converts partially to glucose over hours. It actually improves diabetic control for this reason. Fat makes the case in the clearest way; it doesn't stimulate insulin or glucagon, so it neither raises bg nor insulin secretion, hence the two combined create the low carb metabolic advantage with higher thermogenesis and lower fat storage, simplified to my lay understanding.

                                                                  2. re: jvanderh

                                                                    So, IS there any hard-and-fast, irrefutable evidence that all calories are not created equal?
                                                                    there sure is...and it's right there in your body. there's a unique metabolic pathway for the breakdown and storage of each major macronutrient requiring a specific combination of hormones, cofactors, and types of energy transport and synthesis. each one behaves and impacts the body differently, so it logically follows that consumption of each type nets a different end result.

                                                            2. re: jvanderh

                                                              I think the data do support that low carb works really well in insulin-resistant people.
                                                              i'm walking proof of that :)

                                                              1. re: jvanderh

                                                                They did record caloric intakes.

                                                  2. re: nofunlatte

                                                    Thanks for the NYT link - very interesting.

                                                  3. re: redfish62


                                                    Gary Taubes is my personal hero.