It's time to end the diet debates and opt for a sensible, clean-eating approach to losing weight

While diet book authors continue the quest to find the one diet that will rule us all, a recent letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) calls for an end to the diet debates.

The letter cites research that shows small differences between various diets for weight loss and health improvement. The key factor and common element in all the diets was adherence to the diet. 

Many diets will demonize a particular food or category of foods. As I've pointed out before, extremism is not needed if you're looking to lose weight and improve your health. As the JAMA article outlines, what you need to do is find a diet and lifestyle you can maintain over the long term.

Small Changes = Big Results

I believe that virtually any food can have a place in a healthy diet. Even such supposedly bad foods as sugar, fat and alcohol can be included. An interesting article outlines why an attempt to avoid foods like this may be ill advised. While it may be controversial, the article was well supported with research.

This doesn't mean you can go out and eat junk food every day for years and expect perfect health and ideal weight. Keep the big picture in mind; moderation can be a useful approach to help you avoid developing an antagonistic relationship to food. Being overly rigid in your nutrition can add to your stress and hinder weight loss.

If you want to lose weight, of course you'll have to change how you eat. But small, consistent changes along with a flexible attitude will yield better, lasting results than drastic, short-term diets that vilify a particular food.

So unless you're celiac, have specific food allergies or other medical conditions, there may be a way for you to have your cake and eat it, too; you might just have to eat a little less of it.