Are Your Nutrition Priorities in the Right Order?

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I’ve been giving a lot of interviews surrounding the launch of my book this month and reviewers seem fascinated by the subtitle: What to Eat, What to Avoid, and What to Stop Worrying About.

As I wrote in the introduction to the book, “that last category may be the most important of all…In addition to helping you make the best choices at the grocery store and navigate the many decisions you make throughout the day, my ultimate goal is to help you prioritize the things that will make the biggest difference in your health.”

I can’t think of a better illustration for this than the e-mail I received this morning:

The writer is a 31-year old with Type 2 diabetes and some other very serious health issues due to a congenital heart defect. She is currently awaiting a heart transplant.

“I have changed my diet and watch everything I eat closely. I do not drink soft drinks and avoid artificial sweeteners and flavors . . . I have started brewing decaffeinated tea and using 1/2 cup of sugar per pitcher of tea. I am drinking anywhere from 40 to 80 ounces of this tea a day. Is this hurting me in any way and am I still getting enough water? I am trying to eat and drink as much organic and natural as possible.”

So, what nutritional priorities are implied here?

1. Don’t drink soft drinks.

2. Avoid artificial sweeteners.

3. Avoid artificial flavorings.

4. Avoid caffeine.

5. Drink enough water.

6. Eat as much organic and natural as possible.

All valid choices. And yet my friend, who is trying very hard to watch everything she eats, is apparently adding  somewhere between 100 and 200g of added sugar to her organic, all-natural, decaffeinated tea every day and wondering whether that might be too much.

I don’t share this story in order to put this reader down–but to illustrate how easy it is to get caught up in things that might not matter nearly as much as the really important things we’re overlooking.  As I wrote to her privately,  I think that reducing her intake of added sugar (which is 4 to 8 times higher than recommended) is probably more important than any of the other the 6 things she mentioned. Probably more important than all of them combined. But this cautionary tale is really a thought question for all of us–because we all have our own blind spots.

What are your nutrition blind spots?

When choosing what to eat, are you prioritizing the things that make the biggest difference in your health? Or are you overly focused on details that are less important in the big picture?

  • Are you so worried about eating only organic produce that you eat fewer vegetables? The benefits of a diet rich in fresh vegetables far outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.
  • Do you diligently avoid products made with high fructose corn syrup but fail to limit your intake of “natural” sweeteners? The amount of concentrated sweeteners in your diet has much more profound impact on your health than whether they are natural or not.
  • Do you always choose whole grain breads, cereals and pasta but fail to observe reasonable portion sizes? Portion size has a bigger impact on blood sugar than whether a grain product is whole or refined.

For help getting your nutrition priorities in order, check out Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid, and What to Stop Worrying About!

Connect with Monica on Facebook or on her blog at

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About Monica Reinagel

A licensed nutritionist, noted author, and trained chef, Monica Reinagel, MS, LN, CNS, is creator of the #1-ranked Nutrition Diva podcast (, author of the Nutrition Over Easy blog (, and is a frequent contributor to leading health and lifestyle websites and magazines.
Monica's books include Amazon best-seller The Inflammation Free Diet Plan, as well as The Life Extension Revolution: The New Science of Growing Older without Aging (with Philip Miller, M.D.) and The Secrets of Evening Primrose Oil. Her latest book is Secrets for a Healthy Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid, and What to Stop Worrying About (
Monica holds a Master's Degree in Human Nutrition and is a board-certified nutrition specialist. She's the creator of the IF Rating system, a scientific method of predicting the inflammatory or anti-inflammatory effects of foods. Professional affiliations include the American Dietetic Association, the American College of Nutrition, the Association of Health Care Journalists, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She makes her home in Baltimore, MD. Connect with Monica on Facebook (