Like lots of other people, I almost always begin a new year by resolving to improve my diet. This year is no different. Also, like a lot of others, I’ve already fallen off the diet wagon.

But I can always try again. And there are plenty of cookbooks offering advice and good-for-you recipes. Among them is “The Slim Down South Cookbook: Eating Well and Living Healthy in the Land of Biscuits and Bacon” by registered dietitian and food journalist Carolyn O’Neil.

In the Southern Living cookbook, O’Neil provides practical advice for enjoying Southern favorites like fried chicken — have it only occasionally, no more than once a week — while learning how to make smart choices the rest of the week. She doesn’t ask the reader to give up any food, just choose carefully. The book’s first chapter discusses how to have a healthful Southern plate and even includes a 14-day eating plan.

Next come the recipes, organized by meal, beginning with breakfast. There’s even a chapter on good grazing, with recipes such as Veggie-Hummus Rollups and Tomato & Feta Cheese Crostini, and a chapter with ideas for when company is coming. Think Shrimp and Grits and Two-Layer Salted Pecan Bars.

O’Neil writes that “enjoying great food and good health comes down to four fundamental elements that work whether you’re in South Carolina or South Dakota. And they’re as easy to remember as the word SLIM,” which stands for savoring the South, linger longer, indulge a little and make it happen.

Her cookbook certainly will help its readers stay on a healthful diet.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is