One of the most common topics of conversation at any restaurant or cocktail party is dieting! It is estimated that as many as 45 million Americans go on a diet each year. Approximately half of women and 90% of teenagers are on a diet. No wonder every time you turn around there is a new diet book on the market—the irony?

Diets don’t work! Researchers at UCLA analyzed 31 long-term diet studies and found abysmal results. “Several studies indicate that dieting is consistent predictor of future weight gain,” the researchers note. You have probably seen the same thing, either from your own dieting failures or from watching your friends and family fail.

We suggest you throw the whole idea of a diet out the window! Here are some ideas:

• Choose whole foods and get back to the basics. That means eating fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh fish and lean meats. Avoid processed foods, such as chips and cookies.

• Functional foods that heal would be a welcome addition to your diet. What you eat has an impact on how you feel and how you heal. There are certain foods that have anti-inflammatory effects. Fish oil, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and olive oil all have anti-inflammatory properties. Fresh fruits, berries, nuts such as almonds and walnuts, fresh fish and beans are also part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

• Avoiding trans fats and saturated fats that can cause inflammation is important. Most fast food can be pro-inflammatory. It is best to avoid it.

• Set an example for your children. If you make healthy food choices they will as well. You may not think they are watching but they are.

• If you are someone who frequents restaurants, you can still be healthy. You can almost always find healthy choices on the menu.

Once again, diets do not work. Healthy food and lifestyle choices do. It is crucial for us to turn the tide of obesity around.

We Americans are now fatter than ever: more than two thirds of are overweight or obese, and 35.7% of adults are obese. Almost 3 in 4 men are considered to be overweight or obese. Childhood obesity is rising precipitously. Healthy eating is important for our overall health, both individually and as a nation.