Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, born in 460 BC and lived to the ripe old age of 90, said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” In the study of body, mind, and spirit, food needs to take a front row seat. We all eat, everyone of us, so we all have opinions about what makes for a good meal. For some it will be taste, others nation, some presentation, others comfort, and still for others food will carry a religious significance. The Hippocrates’s quote resonates with the modern computer principle, GIGO — Garbage in, Garbage out. If you eat crap, then you will feel like crap; and the more positive, if you eat well, you’ll feel better.

As Roberta Anding reports, a trend study from the American Dietetic Association suggests that 43% of Americans believe that they are eating well, and yet, the United States Department of Agriculture has showed that Americans have increased their food intake by 523 calories per day since 1970. In nothing else, the amount of food we eat—the serving size—has greatly increased.

In eating well, there are some simple guidelines that are much easier than all the fad diets:

  • Eat moderate portions.

  • Eat vegetables and fruit.

  • Minimize sugars.

  • Stay away from processed food.

  • Abstain totally from soda, including diet soda.

Remember, a good diet determines how you act and feel. Any athlete will tell you that their performance will often be determined by the food they eat. Many vegetarians will tell you that meat-eaters smell differently. Take all this to heart. Don’t worry about cutting anything out of your diet, but work on placing good things in your diet that force out the others.

As a marathon runner who logs a lot of time out running, I’ve found that the importance of good nutrition magnifies itself. If I binge on chips and ice cream, I feel it in my performance. For me personally when I fuel for a run, I find that oatmeal works better than a slice of bread with peanut butter and way better than a bowel of fruit. Pizza doesn’t work; a banana does. I admit it though, a good pizza is a beautiful thing! Find a balance. Rather that a pizza every day, go for that thing of beauty once a month.

I’m not advocating any sort of diet or weight loss program. Most of them seem to me a fad or a quick way to make money. I really don’t like drugs as a way to lose weight. Again, I subscribe to Hippocrates’s idea above. What I am saying is that if you want to live a long life and have sweet ideas throughout your life, then you should eat more natural foods and abstain from processed ones; it’s that simple. Personally, I think McDonalds and Coca-Cola have done more to destroy the health in the U.S. and other parts of the world than almost anything else. In Japan, my home for the last 20 years, I’ve witnessed first hand how the fast food market has developed and literally changed the shape of people’s bodies.

With the negative, though, there is much positive as well. I think Jamie Oliver is a superhero. He has done so well to teach people how to cook easily and quickly. His recipes are varied, taste good, and are healthy. The internet as well has great healthy recipes. And the ability to find inexpensive ingredients has spread over the years.

Try this to eat healthy: keep it simple. Rather than cutting out food, start adding food. What one food can you add to your diet that would help you? In our office, afternoon snacks of chips and sandwiches were replaced with a tuna in water and avocado or tomatoes—a simple, quick, healthy snack. Maybe you’ll want to add a glass of soy milk each day. Or perhaps replace chips with almonds. Or once a week, instead of ice cream, have cut fruit or yogurt. Whatever it is, find something that you’ll love to eat that is good for you. And then eat it.