It’s not very popular to take the middle ground when it comes to recommending a dietary pattern in America, but I’m standing by it. We have a tendency to swing the pendulum too widely, with unintentional results. With low-fat diets, researchers like Dr. Dean Ornish intended to switch Americans to a largely plant-based, vegan (no meats, fish, poultry, or dairy) diet to decrease the rates of heart disease. Heart disease is still the number one cause of death in this country. Dr. Ornish’s research indicates that a person can reduce their levels of heart disease, and even reverse heart disease, by following a very, very strict, low-fat, vegan diet. Most people, however, would rather (literally) die than follow such a diet. It may work, but for many it’s too bitter a pill. So Americans attempted to adopt a low-fat diet without following the advice of Dr. Ornish (and Dr. Willett at the Harvard School of Public Health, for that matter). Instead,we turned away from high-fat foods and began eating sugary foods instead. When our diets are unbalanced, we always fill in using foods from other categories, and since we are wired to love carbohydrates, this was the natural consequence. It didn’t help that food manufacturers developed often vile-tasting products that people bought, and ate, with reckless abandon. And there’s the problem. We take something away and overload on the rest to make up for it. We feel deprived. The Atkins diet didn’t help either; when people fall off that particular low-carb wagon, they do it face first into a stack of maple-syruped pancakes and not by consuming fruit. So having no/very little carbs doesn’t work for most people either. Telling people they should eat butter, as on the beautifully photographed cover of Time, will be read as an invitation to apply a stick to the morning breakfast. Along with a stack of bacon. Don’t. The Annals of Internal Medicine review study on the link between fatty acid consumption and heart disease concluded this way: “Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats.” I don’t read that as an invitation to suck on a stick of butter. But if you love love love butter and you hate, hate, hate not-butter, then have a pat of it with your toast for breakfast. If you love bacon, have a slice. Don’t have three slices every day. Let’s practice something radical that we haven’t tried: Having a bit of everything. I’m a vegetarian by choice, and a gluten-free eater not by choice at all. I have trouble with some FODMAPS. But everything I can eat, I do. That includes baking with butter and eggs, but not eating the whole cake. It also means I consume quite a bit more vegetables than most Americans. So: a pat of butter, sure. A 3 oz. steak? Okay, but not every night. A 16 oz. steak? I wouldn’t. You see how easy that is? Just a bit of everything. Let’s try that and see where it gets us. It doesn’t make much of a magazine cover, though, does it? More?: Here’s a pretty balanced piece from CNN.