What are Your Nutrition Rules?

I do not “diet”, but I do have a number of self-prescribed nutrition rules that help me to maintain my body weight and prevent any unwanted pounds.  Establishing your own set of nutrition rules are an important part of both losing and maintaining body weight.  In addition to my healthy nutrition rules I also have some other nutritional tendencies that could be viewed as “unhealthy behaviors”.  The key is that the healthy and unhealthy habits even each other out (or tend to lean towards the healthy side).  The point is that you need to set your own personal set of nutrition rules and pick and choose the “unhealthy behaviors” you wish to engage in to create the perfect balance that will work for you in the long run.

Orange juice (6 ounces maximum), diet soda, and light yogurt are examples of my personal nutrition rules.

Orange juice (6 ounces maximum), diet soda, and light yogurt are examples of my personal nutrition rules.

Here is a sampling of some of my traditional nutrition rules.  I try to follow these all the time – but we all know, no one is perfect!  Keep in mind these work for me and may not be right for you, everyone is different!

  • I never drink regular sodas (only diet).
  • I eat brats on smaller hot dog buns rather than larger brat buns to conserve calories.
  • I very rarely buy donuts because I cannot refrain from eating them all.
  • I only buy hamburger meat that is > 90% lean.
  • I drink skim milk, not 1%, 2%, or whole milk.
  • I buy light yogurt, not full sugar, regular yogurt.
  • When drinking orange juice, I limit myself to 6 ounces maximum.
  • I usually do not buy reduced fat products unless they save me calories.  For example, I do not see the point in buying reduced fat peanut butter since it has the same number of calories as regular peanut butter (and does not taste as good).
  •  I usually eat out less than once/wk.
  • When eating out, I consciously do not finish my entire plate of food.
  • I eat whole grains instead of refined grains.
  • I eat small servings, but allow myself seconds (or thirds) if I am still hungry.
  • I do not eat many baked goods (donuts, muffins, cake) even though I love them.
  • I seldom use oil to prepare my food.
  • I grill year round.
  • I eat breakfast everyday.

Some other nutrition rules I have heard from friends:

  • Use mustard instead of mayo/miracle whip on sandwiches you make at home.
  • Substitute other sides for fries when eating out.
  • Don’t add bacon to burgers or other menu items unless it REALLY adds to the flavor of the dish.
  • Drink water or unsweetened ice tea instead of soda.
Bacon is an example of something I "occasionally" fit into my diet.

Bacon is an example of something I "occasionally" fit into my diet.

A sampling of my ‘unhealthy’ behaviors are the following:

  • I drink diet sodas.
  • I do not always eat balanced meals (not every meal has fruits, veggies, etc).
  • I love Doritos.
  • I drink a fair amount of regular beer and liquor.
  • I like bagels and cream cheese.
  • I do not eat the recommended amount of fruits, vegetables, or nuts.  I may go days without eating any fruit.
  • I eat more red meat than white meat.
  • I eat more than a fair amount of light Ranch dressing.
  • I like frozen pizzas.
  • When I eat out, I do not make an attempt to make a healthy choice.
  • The only way I eat raw veggies is with regular, full fat dip.
  • I only eat fish or seafood once every two weeks (I wish this were not the case).
  • I do not eat enough “healthy” fats and eat too many “bad” fats.
  • I really, really like bacon.
  • I eat regular brats instead of turkey or soy brats because they taste better.
  • I also eat regular chips instead of baked chips for the same reason.
  • I have no problem eating after 8:00 pm.

Overall, I feel like I have more healthy behaviors than unhealthy behaviors but it is always a bit of a struggle.  I would never tell you to follow “Todd’s golden eating habits of success” because there are no golden eating habits of success.  Nobody’s diet is perfect.  Well, there may be a few of you out there, but the point is that you don’t have to be perfect.  However, you do need to negotiate some nutrition rules for your own diet; rules that you have built for yourself and that you are comfortable with.  No one can tell you exactly what to eat, when to eat, where to eat, and how to eat for every given situation.  But, if you set some ground rules for yourself, while at the same time allowing yourself some dietary freedom, it increases your chances for success.  I encourage you to find out what works for you.  Sometimes it is difficult to decipher good habits from bad habits (many can go on both lists) and you may need some help from a friend or two.  If you’d like some help from me, by all means, contact me.  Good luck in finding and establishing your dietary rules for success!


Todd M. Weber, PhD, MS, RD