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7 tips to dump diet crazes and simplify the way you eat

By Lowe: If you’re trying to pick out a diet to follow that can make you healthier and trimmer, there are at least a gazillion plans you could choose from (I know it’s a gazillion. I’ve checked the list.) But if you’re tired of mind-numbing nutritional complications, there’s a straight-forward, easy-to-follow set of rules that can put you on track to eat the not-quite-paleo diet.

The not-quite-paleo diet is based on eating rules formulated by Michael Pollan, the author of the book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Pollan is an investigative journalist who has done extensive research on nutrition and the ways in which food companies, government regulators, farmers and even health writers (like me) influence what we eat.

While Pollan has come up with many different lists of rules you can follow for a better diet, you can start using seven of them today to help revamp your eating and painlessly improve your eating habits.

These rules aren’t hard to remember or difficult to adhere to and you can quickly adjust them to your own individual tastes. I’ve named these rules the not-quite-paleo diet because although it incorporates many of the principles that paleo eaters use, it isn’t the kind of strict regimen than many paleo advocates insist on.

The seven rules of the not-quite-paleo diet (OK, maybe they are more like guidelines than rules) are:

If your grandparents wouldn’t have known how or why to eat a particular food, don’t touch it. That means avoid foods that come in tubes you’re supposed to squeeze into your mouth, anything that glows in the dark, foods you spray from a can and concoctions cooked up by food chemists that not even a fly’s GI tract would know how to digest. If a food label contains more than five ingredients, or chemicals you have to look up in the dictionary, put it back on the supermarket shelf. Don’t buy foods kept in the center of the supermarket. Stick to the store’s perimeters where the real foods – fruits, vegetables and meat – are kept. Don’t even think about pushing a cart down the cereal aisle.

Only eat foods that will go bad in the foreseeable future. (One of the few exceptions is honey, which keeps forever.) Forever foods, those overly preserved, like Twinkies may someday help paleontologists understand how behemoths like Hostess roamed the earth, but they’re not meant for human consumption. Don’t stuff yourself at meals. Stop eating before you feel totally satiated. Eat your meals with friends and family. Look at and talk to the other people who are eating with you. No smartphones or video screens allowed. Don’t buy food where you fill up your car with gas. Pollan says that even though 20 percent of our food is eaten in automobiles, you should always eat in a location remote from asphalt. If you want to explore other corollaries cooked up by Pollan, you can take a peek at 64 rules he lists here. No matter how strictly you wish to confine your diet, don’t forget his last rule: Break the rules once in a while.