The key to a successful diet is finding something you'll actually stick to. If you haven't found that yet, Alton Brown's four list approach may help.
Alton Brown builds his meals based on lists that guide how often he eats certain items. The four lists are:
- Daily (whole grains, green tea, fruit, nuts)
- Three times a week (oily fish, tofu, yogurt, sweet potato)
- Once a week (alcohol, desserts, red meat, white starch)
- Never (soda, canned soup, "diet" anything, fast food)
You may find that a black-and-white approach to food doesn't work for you, but Alton Brown explains why it helped him to slim down and get healthier (with exercise):
The real importance of the 'never' list is that you have to make a commitment that there are some things in your life that you're going to give up and you're never going to have again. And there's not a diet that I know of that ever said, 'You know what? You're going to say goodbye to some things forever.' I actually think that's important because it's a symbolic life change that says 'I'm turning a corner.' It's a statement of 'I'm making a permanent change.' That's important from both a psychological and nutritional standpoint.
Of course, your lists don't have to match his exactly. Compile your own list of foods to try and eat daily, a couple times a week, once a week, and (almost) never that match your individual goals. For more details on how Alton Brown developed this approach, check out the full interview linked below.
Food Expert Alton Brown Talks About Weight Loss and His Four-List Method [Atlanta Best Self Magazine]