Gimmicks come and go when it comes to healthy eating and Americans love them. The quick weight loss they promise appeal to our need for things to happen quickly—so we can get back to our old ways.

Gimmicks come and go when it comes to healthy eating and Americans love them. The quick weight loss they promise appeal to our need for things to happen quickly—so we can get back to our old ways.
Lately, there seems to be approaching more sensible approaches to weight loss and health. They still have the cute names but more are advocating the consumption of real food. It is becoming clear that the only way to normalize weight and improve health is to emphasize the quality of the food we eat on a daily basis.
A friend told me about the Paleo diet and it is interesting. Primarily, it excludes sugar, grains, dairy, and processed fast foods. Also known as the "caveman diet", it has been endorsed by The New England Journal of Medicine, the Mayo Clinic, The American Society for Nutrition, The American Journal of Cardiology, Preventive Medicine, and WebMD. The medical community all seems to agree that a Paleo lifestyle can lead to significant improvements in health, energy, and overall physical fitness.
Many years ago, a nutritionist impressed me with the statement, "What you don't eat may be more important than what you do eat." The success or failure of any diet very likely depends on whether you quit eating what made you sick and overweight in the first place. One writer says of the Paleo diet, "What may be the larger component of this diet is it requires the elimination of certain foods from one's diet. Dairy products, grains, legumes, processed and fast foods are examples of what should not be eaten. Once one begins to eliminate those foods, then some of the benefits of the Paleo diet emerge, but is it due to changing foods in the diet or the elimination of foods known to not be healthy for us?"
You may eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables—-but what else do you eat? The "what else" is probably the culprit.
Another friend has lost 50 pounds following the "Transformation" diet. It also eliminates fast and processed food, except for very expensive packages and cans of food and drinks that claim to be perfect protein. The meat, fish, or fowl she eats along with 2 cups of vegetables two times per day would create weight loss. The packaged, canned stuff contains things not even recommended on the diet. I don't know if they are expected to continue eating and drinking them the rest of their lives or not.
Saying that one eating plan fits all is a dangerous assumption; and yet it is done all the time by all kinds of authorities. To judge whether a dietary program is good or bad, look at what is being sold. It is something you can live with the rest of your life? Does it advocate eating real food? If packaged, bottled, or canned stuff is primary, I would steer away from it, regardless of who is advocating it. If a diet says it is okay to guzzle diet sodas, it is not likely to be successful since artificial sweeteners cause you to crave food.
Most of us will agree that losing weight is usually not the problem. Keeping it off is! That can only be done by changing the way you think and act toward food. It is best done by eating that "weird" stuff—fresh fruits and vegetables and leaving off the typical American diet of processed foods.
The proof of a good healthy eating and weight control program is- how are your weight and health five or ten years down the road? It is not about what happened the first six months on it.
Online you can find information about the Paleo diet and many recipes. The only thing I know for sure is that the muffins from their Paleo Comfort Foods book are to die for and they contain good nutrition! Here they are:

(I actually made these and YUMMMM!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Thoroughly combine:
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add and combine well:
2 cups carrots, peeled and grated (I used food processor)
1 large apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup raisins
In a separate bowl combine:
3 large eggs, beaten with a fork
2 tablespoons honey (optional) (I substituted a little stevia liquid)
1/2 cup coconut or olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and mix very well. The batter will be very thick. Spoon the batter out into muffin pan and place on upper or middle rack of your oven for about 40-50 minutes. Small muffins take only about 25 minutes.
When a toothpick inserted into the top of a muffin comes out clean, the muffins are done. Cool muffins in the pan for 8-10 minutes and then remove to a rack to finish cooling.

(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, taught home economics, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, has taught numerous health and nutrition classes, and wrote a weekly newspaper column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at