Search all you want, you’ll never find a more fact-free topic than diet. Trendy fads abound, not to mention countless myths about gluten, lactose, cholesterol, carbs, protein and going vegetarian or vegan.

The science constantly flip-flops. Saturated fat used to be the demon, now it’s sugar. Eggs were on, then off, then on, now off again. Alcohol and caffeine are ok in moderation, then they’re not. You can’t trust any of that nonsense.

Don’t even get me started on all the miracle diets, weight loss systems, super foods, vitamins and nutrients.

I’m no expert but my wife is. And my weight and waistline haven’t changed in my entire adult life. That isn’t rocket science. Just takes a little discipline and common sense. Here are 5 common sense rules for losing weight and eating right. Follow them and you’ll be fine. Seriously.

Rule 1. To lose weight eat less, exercise more or both.  

This is how you lose weight. It really couldn’t be simpler.

Diets are bad. So is anything that promises to help you lose weight. None of it works over the long haul. Diet is a way of life, not a quick fix program.

Rule 2. Calories In = Calories Out.

Keep an eye on your weight and waistline. They should remain the same. If you see a change, presumably an increase in one or the other, see Rule 1. Adjust until equilibrium is again reached. This does require the ability to read a scale and know which numbers are bigger than others.

Rule 3. You don’t have to give up anything unless the doctor says so and it makes sense.

What are sensible reasons? You have Celiac Disease and you’ll have constant diarrhea until you die of dehydration if you don’t give up gluten. Your cholesterol is off the charts and you’re high risk for heart disease. That sort of thing. Otherwise bread, milk, meat, butter, some sweets – pretty much anything is fine in moderation unless you have a specific disease, allergy or sensitivity.

Also humans are omnivorous. Our bodies evolved on meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, so naturally, that’s what our bodies need. You need a whole bunch of different amino acids, vitamins and minerals to survive. Entirely cutting out meat and fish does not make you healthier. That’s a myth. On the contrary, it takes quite a bit of knowledge and is actually quite risky.

Rule 4. Ignore everything you hear and read.

Studies, research, books – I don’t care what it is, don’t read it. It’s just as likely to be misinformation as information. Probably more likely to be the former.

If you follow these rules and you’re not a fussy eater you probably don’t need any vitamins or supplements unless your doc says you do (calcium, vitamin D, that sort of thing). I think that’s what my wife takes but don’t quote me. I don’t take anything.

Rule 5. Diversify.

Eat like you invest – like you should invest, anyway – spread it around. Variety is good, especially a wide variety of different colored vegetables. Foods with saturated fats – meats, cheeses, butter, eggs – are fine in moderation, just try to go lean and natural. Processed foods are bad. Fish is good, just go easy on the stuff with mercury. Cook with healthy oils like olive oil or peanut oil (for high heat cooking) instead of butter if you can.

Sugar and empty calories aren’t great but that doesn’t mean never. Just be smart. If you eat a sandwich one day have a healthy salad the next. If you have ice cream for dessert one night, have nuts and dried fruit the next. That sort of thing. As long as you don’t binge on crap you’ll be fine. Also it’s a good habit to simply avoid fast food and sugary drinks. Vices are ok, just don’t have too many and try not to overdo it.

Bonus Rule. Exercise occasionally.

And by occasionally I mean a couple times a week. You don’t have to go to a gym, just go for a run, a hike or a long walk. Do some pushups and sit-ups. At least stay active. Take the stairs. Carry your own groceries. That sort of thing. (Sorry, thought this post needed just one more “that sort of thing.”)

Got it? Any questions, soon to be healthy people?

Image credit Horrace / Flickr