Skip to content
Variety v. Simplicity: The Key to Success Pt. 2
July 3, 2009
Variety v. Simplicity:  The Key to Success Pt. 2

Variety vs Simplicity: The Key to Success Pt 2 [PDF] [Print] [E-mail]

Written by Jeff Novick, M.S., R.D.   
Friday, 03 July 2009 17:48

After writing last weeks blog, I was reminded of an article I wrote on the topic a few year back on the same topic and am going to reprint it here this week.

Simplicity: The Key to Health!

Over the last 25 years of following the principles of “healthful living”, I often hear the following comment… 

“Jeff, this is SIMPLE for you to do and follow because you have been doing it for so LONG”. 

To which I respond… 

“You have it backwards, the reason I have been able to do this for so LONG is because I have always kept it so SIMPLE.” 

Well, turns out that maybe I am correct as my personal philosophy and thoughts were just recently supported by an interesting study that was done. These results may also be able to help many of you by pointing out the “key” component to following a program of healthful living successfully. 

This study was designed to test the theory that very simple, uncomplicated diets would result in higher levels of compliance/adherence and weight loss in an outpatient setting then diets with more variety and complexity. The study was a realistic test of what can be achieved by dietary treatment alone for obese patients because the patients were typical of the general population who are trying to lose weight. They traveled to the clinic at their own expense, neither paid nor received money, and bought the food they ate at normal retail outlets. No drug or surgical treatment was offered and no exercise or behavioral therapy programs were provided. 

The patients were randomized to one of three diets, each of which was designed to produce an initial energy deficit sufficient to produce weight loss. The three diets were of increasing variety and consisted of…… 

1) a very simple diet (VSD) which included just one food; 

2) the same very simple diet (VSD+V) with added variety of fruits and vegetables; and 

3) a typical conventional diet (TCD). 

The patients completing the trial in the simple diet group achieved the highest overall mean weight loss (~25 lbs in 16 weeks). Compliance/adherence was similar for the two simple diets but much lower for the typical conventional diet. It was easier for the subjects to stick to the simple diets. 

The authors expected that patients on the simple diet with added variety would have a greater weight loss than those on the the simplest diet as it was still simple but much less boring and patients were more likely to comply with it. However, the greatest weight loss was in the patients on the simplest diet alone. 

While neither the authors of the study nor I am recommending anyone to live on a diet of just one food, the study does make a very interesting and key point. And that is, that the simpler the diet, the greater the compliance and the greater the results. The two simplest diets produced the greatest compliance and the greatest results. The typical complex diet had the lowest compliance and produced the least amount of weight loss. 

The more we try to complicate our diets and/or lifestyle, the harder they become to follow. The key to any diet or lifestyle program is simplicity. Very few of us have the time and/or energy to spend extra hours in the kitchen or in the food stores. Nor do we have the time to learn 100’s of new recipes and food products. 

So, don’t try to complicate your program of healthful living. 

Find out what works for you and stick to it. Create simple meals based around vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. 

For Breakfast.. 
Whole grain cereal 
Fresh Fruit 

For Lunch &/or Dinner 
Steamed Vegetables 
Starchy Vegetables (Rice, Potato, Yam, Legumes, etc) 
Legumes (beans) 

Nuts/Seeds (limit consumption)
Starchy Vegetables/Intact Whole Grains 

Keep your overall program and menu simple. Look for variety within each of the food groups by using different varieties of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains over the course of a day or a week. 

As a mentor of mine once said, “this programs (healthful living) is not supposed to become your life, it is supposed to give you your life back”.

So, Keep It Simple!! 

Because simplicity REALLY is…. 

“The Key To Health” 

In Health, 


Welcome to the new home of the National Health Association!
If you are an existing member, you will need to reset your password in order to log in and take advantage of all the great benefits being a member provides—which now includes the ability to update your own contact information (address, phone number, email, upload a picture and much more). Please start by clicking the Register/Log In button and follow the instructions on that page. Once your password is reset, you will use your email address as your username. You no longer have or need a Member Number. Please contact us if you have questions—and thanks for your support!