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Position on nutrition: Focus on overall diet, not “good” and “bad” foods

CALS professor emerita Susan Nitzke is a co-author on a new position paper released this month by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Titled “Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating,” the paper emphasizes that “the total diet or overall pattern of food eaten is the most important focus of healthy eating.”

“It points out the weaknesses of singling out certain foods as good or bad,” Nitzke says.“Eggs would be a good example of how most foods can have a place in healthy diets in the context of a balanced overall pattern with appropriate portion size and within each person’s calorie needs.   There are bound to be nutrition experts who disagree, and there are important exceptions for some diseases and conditions, but total dietary balance is a mainstream principle of healthy eating.”

Being a co-author of the paper isn’t the same as deciding the academy’s views on healthy eating, Nitzke is quick to point out. “The main points of all position papers are developed by academy leaders and authors are selected to develop a full paper based on scientific evidence. An extensive review process is followed over several months,” she says.