Harvard Men's Health Watch

Diet and health: Patterns matter most

The average American guy grew up believing that real men don't eat broccoli or, for that matter, salmon. He was weaned to franks and burgers, with steak or roast on Sunday — accompanied, of course, by catsup and fries. Start the day with bacon and eggs, share some doughnuts at the office, snack on chips and dip, enjoy a bowl of ice cream on the way to bed — it's the all-American way to eat.

It's nearly impossible for a man to have made it into the 21st century without understanding that you are what you eat. But understanding is one thing, making changes quite another. Often the barrier to change is a preoccupation with individual choices: Can I have eggs for breakfast? Is oatmeal better than raisin bran? If I order fish, can I get fries?

Individual choices are meaningful, but if they fit into a sound overall dietary pattern, there will be plenty of wiggle room, so men can eat at least some of the "bad" things they really love without worrying about the consequences.

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