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How to Use the Food Lists

Most diet and nutrition books list all the foods you should avoid. This is a list of all the good foods you can choose from -- foods that are full of the nutrients you need to stay healthy and help to prevent diseases. Remember the 80%-20% goal: if 80 percent of the foods you eat are on this list, and you select a wide variety, you'll have a healthy diet. You can do whatever you like with the other 20 percent.

The general goals of healthful eating apply to everyone, but you may have some special circumstances. See the suggestions in the Special Situations section if you have:


Heart problems or high cholesterol

High blood pressure, or you

Need to lose weight

The "smiley face," "carrot" and "peanut" symbols next to each food in the Food Lists will guide you with choices to fit your special situation. Here's what they mean:

Foods marked with the Carrot symbol are foods that contain sugars or starches that can cause blood sugar to rise quickly, which is a concern for diabetics and people who need to lose weight. They include the nutrient-rich fruits, root vegetables, and whole-grain products made with flour such as whole wheat bread, whole grain pastas and breakfast cereals. If you are diabetic or trying to lose weight, eat fruits and root vegetables only as part of a meal, so the other foods eaten at the same time will slow the release of sugars into your bloodstream. Try to avoid the products made with ground-up grains as much as possible, using whole grains (the seeds themselves) instead. See WHOLE grains are better than any flour.

Foods marked with the Peanut symbol are nutrient-rich foods that are also concentrated sources of calories. They include nuts and snack seeds, seafood and dairy products. People who want to lose weight, lower cholesterol or control high blood pressure need to control the portion size of these foods because they can add a lot of calories without filling you up. Unless you are a strict vegetarian, we recommend 2-3 servings of skim milk dairy products each day and 4-6 ounce servings of seafood 2-3 times a week. With nuts and snack seeds, a reasonable serving size is 1-2 tablespoons per day.

The Smiley-face symbol is given to nutrient-rich vegetables, whole grains and beans that are bulky and have lots of fiber, so they fill you up. It would be very difficult to eat too many, and most people can eat as much of these foods as they like, as often as they like. Make them the centerpiece of your meals.

*Note: If your doctor has given you special diet instructions, please follow them regardless of the information contained in this book. If you have questions about what is appropriate for you, consult your doctor or health care provider.

July 29th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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