Is it better to eat a lot of healthy foods or limit all foods in general?

The answer to your question is a little tricky. As a dietitian, I educate people to eat a lot of healthy foods but I also tell them to consume all foods in moderation. Believe it or not…it IS possible to consume too much of a good thing! I have spoken to many people who think if something is “good” for them, then they can consume as much of it as they want with no repercussions. My job is to educate them that, while eating healthy food is important, it is possible to eat too much of certain things which can have negative side effects. For example, I had a patient last week that I met in follow up. She told me that she was very frustrated because she had made significant changes in her diet, but she had actually gained a few pounds. I reviewed her diet and asked what changes she had made. She told me that she had begun adding fruit at every meal and as an evening snack “because fruit is good for me.” The good part is that she did cut a few sugary snacks out of her diet by adding fruit. The not-so-good news was the fruit was actually proving her 600 more calories each day! So, the take away message is that: fruit is healthy…in moderation. In another example, one of my patients needed to increase his intake of vegetables. I offered education on ways to incorporate vegetables into his daily diet. One of my examples included making vegetable-based smoothies. My patient took my advice and thought “if a little is good…more is better” and came into my office a month later with orange hands. It turns out, the only vegetable that he really liked was carrots. My patient then decided to begin drinking copious amounts of carrot juice. Because of his excessive intake of carrots (which are rich in carotene, which is an orange/yellowish colored pigment), he ended up with carotenemia (aka orange colored skin). Moral of the story? Eating ~5-7 servings of a variety of fruits and veggies each day (mostly veggies and again…variety) along with whole grains, low fat dairy products and lean proteins (in moderation) is the best way to follow a well-rounded diet.

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