“Be careful reading health books. You might die of a misprint.”

— Mark Twain

Good Lord! Does it seem that there’s a new diet every week: paleo, keto, gluten-free, lactose-free, Miami Beach, Ornish, FODMAP, elimination, specific carbohydrate (SCD), whole 30, MyPlate, Mediterranean, DASH, low glycemic, anti-inflammatory? The list goes on to at least 50 possibilities.

Many of these have merit with specific therapeutic benefits for certain folks, including improved digestive health, weight loss, and reduced health risks for a variety of conditions.

Any dietary plan is only as good as our ability to stay on it, so we ought drop the term “diet” as this implies a short-term solution to a problem like weight, joint pain, gut problems, fatigue, and other clinically important problems. Instead, let’s adopt a term like “lifestyle,” which means a commitment, over time, to a certain way of being, eating, and living.

Despite the proliferation of diets, the best dietary advice converges on similar outcomes. Best evidenced are the low glycemic, Mediterranean, DASH, and anti-inflammatory lifestyle plans, which all yield health benefits such as lowering cardio-metabolic risk, improving cognitive function, decreasing inflammation, and protecting against cancer.

As I converse with patients, I find that their biggest gap in departing from generally accepted nutritional recommendations is consuming five to 11 daily servings of vegetables and fruits. It seems to be a high bar for most of us on the SAD (Standard American Diet) though well evidenced to reduce our risks of heart disease, cancer, chronic pain, dementia, and more.

While consuming my Sunday lunch, I was inspired to add another option to the ever-expanding array of dietary options: the green carb lifestyle plan.

Green carb came to mind as I looked at my plate. My palate and plate were energized by grilled broccolini, drizzled with olive oil and lightly seasoned with lemon-pepper. Front and center was a filet of sockeye salmon topped with pesto, lemon-pepper, and dill grilled outside on a cedar plank. Salad was a mixture of mixed spring greens with added radishes, broccolini, orange cauliflower, spicy micro-greens, and chia seeds. Dressing… a Greek vinaigrette. Yum!

What was missing was the usual starchy carb. I have to say, I was fully satisfied without the added starch, but if I had added it, I would have chosen a high fiber carb like farro or brown rice, or maybe a sweet potato rather than white, high-glycemic options. Instead, I took all my carbs in the form of green veggies … plus a few ounces of liquid carb from a green bottle of excellent Pinot Noir.

So here’s my recommendation: Try for the next week or so to make one meal daily green carb. This means that all the carbs in the meal are from a green vegetable source. Green is good. This will help a lot in getting to your goal of daily vegetable and fruit servings.

Wowza. This might even become another book.

Dr. Victor S. Sierpina is the WD and Laura Nell Nicholson Family Professor of Integrative Medicine and Professor of Family Medicine at UTMB.

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