I’ve written this weekly column for more than 30 years, starting when I was a reporter for the State Journal-Register, a daily newspaper in Springfield, Illinois.

At that time, Copley Newspapers picked it up and syndicated it. When Copley was sold, and eventually the State Journal-Register sold as well, Creators News Service asked me to continue writing it. I was thrilled.

I left newspapers to become a full-time dietitian, having gone back to school to get my master’s degree in nutrition and registered dietitian, and I was thrilled to be able to continue writing the column.

(You know the saying: Once a reporter, always a reporter — just ask my husband.)

Nutrition has seen a lot of changes in those 30-plus years, which can be frustrating to readers.

I chalk the “coffee is out, coffee is in; eggs are not good for you, eggs are good for you” back-and-forth up to nutrition being a science. As new research emerges, recommendations can — and should — change in the nutrition world.

Here are my very familiar (if you’ve been reading my column for a while) tips on the road to healthy eating and healthy living. Remember, little steps lead you to health.

  • Follow the Mediterranean diet pattern, which my colleague and I affectionally call the “Healthy Human Diet.” This involves choosing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, seafood and wine with dinner, and less red meat, processed meats and ultraprocessed foods.
  • Don’t skip meals — you end up overeating at the next meal. It’s true. Skipping a meal might intuitively seem like a good way to cut calories, but it usually backfires.
  • Drink a lot of water. Start the day with a glass and drink another glass before meals. It can curb overeating — and keep you hydrated. We used to recommend eight glasses a day. We’ve since learned it’s different for each of us, depending on how hot it is, how much you exercise and how many foods you’re eating that contain water (such as watermelon and soup).
  • Choose plenty of fiber for a healthy microbiome. Women need a minimum of 25 grams a day; men need 35. Plants have fiber, so consider adding more plants to your diet — spinach, broccoli, apples, blueberries, Brussels sprouts, carrots — they all count. Variety is important.
  • Skip the sugary sodas, teas, vitamin waters, energy drinks, fancy coffee drinks and sports drinks. Instead, opt for the unsweetened flavored carbonated waters, green tea and black coffee. Can an occasional Diet Coke fit into the plan? Absolutely. You just don’t want to have an excessive intake of artificial sweeteners.
  • Exercise regularly. Movement is so important — to help maintain a healthy weight and to feel good. Any and all movement counts, from walking the dog to working in the garden. Park farther away from the grocery store; count your steps on a pedometer; take another lap around the block — it all adds up.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means one serving a day for women and two for men.
  • Get plenty of sleep. It’s amazing how much good sleep is tied to a healthy weight. Shoot for seven to eight hours a night to make good food choices and feel better.

Thanks to you, my loyal readers, who have supported me, emailed me and encouraged me. You have been my inspiration to keep this column going for the past 30 years.

Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois, and the current president of the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Contact her at charfarg@aol.com, and follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd. The opinions expressed are her own.