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Healthy eating : Alternating Diet

Abstract: What is healthy eating? Should I follow a strict diet? How should I plan my diet? What is meant by an alternating diet? Which diet is healthy?

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Healthy eating : Alternating Diet

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Written by: Fabio Piccini, doctor and Jungian psychotherapist, in charge of the "Centre for Eating Disorders Therapy" at "Malatesta Novello" nursing home in Cesena. Works privately in Rimini and Chiavari. E-mail:
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 13 Aug 2008.

Should I follow a strict diet? How should I plan my diet? What is meant by an alternating diet? Which diet is healthy eating?


Strict diets usually do not work. It has been shown that after a strict diet almost 90% are prone to regain their lost weight in a short time and sometimes even to increase in weight.

So how can we learn to eat correctly and keep excess under control? What is healthy eating?

The American Nutritionists’ Association has, for several years, been proposing a method called "alternating diet".

The technical basis of the alternating diet is to split up food into food groups:

  • bread, pasta, rice, flour
  • meat, fish, eggs, vegetables
  • milk, yoghurt, cheese
  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • condiments

Each food group contains food with similar compositions and nutritional values, that for this reason, can be interchanged. The food division into groups, has for each group a reference food, (for example 60 gr. of bread) that can be exchanged with other food of the same groups, simply changing quantities (for example 2 slices of ‘polenta’, 2 packets of crackers, 6 cracker biscuits, etc.).

For example, lunch could consist of: 2 portions from the bread/pasta group

1 portion of meat group (or cheese group)
1 portion of condiment group
1 portion of vegetables group
1 portion of fruit group

The choice of food typology must be included in portions and it must be free, because according to the food interchange principle, food portions balance each other. It is important that at the end of the day you have eaten food from each group according to patterns fixed in advance.

An alternating diet is an excellent way of learning to eat in a good and balanced way, and can be used by everybody whether they have eating problems or not.
More details about alternating diets can be found in self-help texts.

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