I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading lately, trying to figure out the way to get the best results from my birthday present to myself. There are probably a million diets out there, and I’ve never been able to stick with one diet for a long period of time. They feel too restrictive, too inhuman in some sense. So, I’ve looked for what these diets have to offer and whether they have a common denominator. And they do.

There are the carb-hating diets, the meat-hating diets, and many others in-between. No, I do not want to cut out all carbs from my diet, and I do not want to give up meat. So, what is a guy to do?

I’ve decided that to keep up with P90X and future workouts, I need to maintain a healthy level of carbs. I will try to eat more of them in the morning and less throughout the day so that I have a longer period of time to burn them off before I go to bed. But, they have to be decent carbs. So, no sugar-heavy foods on a regular basis. Yes, the Cheesecake Factory meal on my birthday was delicious, but that is the exception, not the rule. That goes with ice cream and desserts of all kinds. When I eat carbs, I will choose them wisely and choose those that will give me lasting energy throughout the day.

Also, I will focus more on eating proteins. Proteins can come in many shapes and sizes, so variety is key here. One day, it may come from meat. Another day, from almonds and other foods. The key is to maintain a high protein intake to help with muscle repair after workouts and to cut down on the need for carbs to feel full. Also, eat a lot of vegetables. Here, I take a page from my daughter’s playbook. She’ll eat just about anything you put in front of her, and she loves her veggies. Especially the green ones. So, I will try to fit more vegetables into my diet. Whether that means veggies in an omelette in the mornings or veggies on a lunchtime salad, I don’t know, but they’ll work their way into the lineup.

Fats. They are so taboo in much of the diet literature, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about. It is important, of course, to avoid fats that will harm you by causing heart disease or by adding excess fat to your body because they are not absorbed properly. But, as one diet guru has it, not all fats are created equal. So, pursue the good, avoid the bad.

Which brings me to my final point. What every diet seems to have in common is this theme: pursue the good foods, avoid the bad foods. What the “good” foods are differs according to the diet, but most have the same list of bad foods. So, as in the Christian life, we pursue what makes us better (physically and spiritually), and avoid those things that take us in the opposite direction. Sounds like the first principle of natural law to me. If we are to act in accord with our nature, we should choose what makes our body better (healthy, well-rounded diet and exercise), and avoid what turns it to mush (potato chips on the couch).

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