Editor’s note: This column marks the debut of Chuck Norris’ “C-Force” on WND. Look for more “C-Force” columns each Friday on the Diversions page.

Chuck, it was said to me recently that “it’s not just what we eat but how we eat that makes or breaks us.” What do you say? And what is the art of eating right to you? – Susan R., Fargo, N.D.

One of the promises I made as your personal trainer in “C-Force” was to introduce you to a host of experts who can aid your journey in creating a better you.

Dr. David L. Katz is an internationally renowned authority on nutrition and weight management from the Yale School of Medicine. And he has fantastic resources on his website. In one of his articles, he gave multiple rules for eating well. I’d like to reiterate a few of his points and add a few of my own.

I believe there are seven pre-eminent rules for eating right. Practicing these can make you not only fitter but also trim.

1. Drink sufficient amounts of water. Julia Child was absolutely correct when she concluded, “Water is the most neglected nutrient in your diet but one of the most vital.” Water is critical throughout the entire body: A) It helps transport nutrients and waste products in and out of cells and the body; B) It is necessary for all digestive, absorption, circulatory and excretory functions; C) It is critical for the proper function of every organ in the body; D) It is needed for the utilization of water-soluble vitamins; E) It helps to maintain proper body temperature; F) Though I caution others in using it to lose weight, drinking sufficient amounts of water can curb your appetite.

The equation to figure the recommended amount of water your body needs is: Your weight divided by two equals the number of ounces of water you need to consume daily. But do so sparingly in meals, because excessive water can lessen the work of digestive enzymes.

2. Run from fast food. The last thing you should rush is your diet. And fast foods are the epitome of everything wrong about American eating habits. These quick meals are generally overloads in salt, calories and bad fats and lack the nutrients your body and mind need. The truth is that the only quick result one gets from fast food is a quicker view of death.

I’m not trying to be gross, but if the thought of literal feces in your meat isn’t enough to deter you from eating fast food, I strongly recommend you read “Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal,” award-winning investigative journalist Eric Schlosser’s devastating exposé of the fast-food industry.

3. Slow down and eat with your loved ones. The art of cooking needs to return to American homes, and so does eating together. Sitting down for meals with your family not only improves eating habits and ensures proper nutrition, but also reduces obesity patterns in children and provides for daily times of interaction and relational building. According to multiple studies by the University of Minnesota and The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, cited by Katz, families who eat together are even far less likely to be plagued by drug use, smoking and alcohol abuse.

4. Use smaller eating utensils. Most of us are used to eating from large plates with large spoons, large forks and 32-ounce glasses. We have supersized everything, including our utensils. One strategy to control portions and improve fitness is to reduce the sizes of those things with which we eat. It really works, and it has been proved over and over. I’m not saying that you have to convert to a shrimp fork and an egg spoon, but anything in that direction will help.

5. Retrain your palate, tongue and stomach. Most Americans eat what they want and do so until they are stuffed beyond measure. But that neither is the practice of most cultures in the world nor should be ours.

Victory over tyranny of the tummy starts with the mind. It’s believing that we can retrain our palates to enjoy better foods, our tongues to enjoy tasting longer and our stomachs to be satiated without being overly gorged.

For example, the “French diet” focuses on a few basic European eating habits: eating for nutrition (not just to be full), learning to enjoy good foods (not just sweets and fatty foods) and to taste longer (not just chew more) and slowing down the pace of eating.

Michael Pollan, author of “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” said: “Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. [Arab] culture has a similar rule, and in German culture, they say, ‘Tie off the sack before it’s full.'”

6. Eat organic.

When it comes to eating anything, Dr. Katz prescribes: “The shorter the ingredient list the better. Most of the healthiest foods have only one ingredient. Think broccoli, spinach, blueberries, etc. Longer lists generally mean more sugar, more salt, more artificial flavors – more unhealthy stuff.”

And don’t buy the myth that buying organic will cost you more. Katz’s research team at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center examined 131 foods from six groceries and discovered that, by and large, there were little, if any, differences between organic and nonorganic foods.

7. Splurge once in a while. Reward yourself for running a good diet race. I’m not talking about with junk food, but with snacks that are healthy substitutes, e.g., air-popped popcorn, dark chocolate, health-food bars, nuts and fruit and yogurt desserts. Those are just a few ways to reward yourself for eating well. I’m sure your local health-food store has an array of healthy snack alternatives.

A little treat now and then won’t kill you. As Charles Schulz, the author of the “Peanuts” comic strip, once said, “All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!”

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