Making dietary changes can be more difficult for guys. One of the barriers is a preoccupation with specific choices: Can I eat eggs for breakfast? Is oatmeal better than raisin bran? How much red meat can I eat?

Individual choices are meaningful, but if they fit into a sound overall dietary pattern, there’s plenty of wiggle room, according to the July issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch.

A report from Harvard’s Health Professionals Follow-up Study examined the effect of dietary patterns—rather than individual foods—on men’s health. The results: Men who ate a lot of red meat, processed meat, refined grains and sweets were 64% more likely to develop heart disease than men with the most prudent diets.

The best diet features generous amounts of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, olive oil and fish, Health Watch notes. A healthful diet is also low in saturated fat from meat and whole dairy products, trans fatty acids from fried foods and snack foods, salty foods, refined grains and concentrated sweets.

But this doesn’t mean you have to eat spinach every day or turn down both hamburger and bun.

What should you do?

Evaluate your current diet. Then set goals based on the pattern that will keep you healthy. Change slowly, but steadily.

By focusing on an overall pattern, you’ll be able to find healthful foods you like. And you’ll also be able to eat the less healthful foods that matter to you most—as long as your portion sizes are reasonable and your overall dietary pattern is sound.

The bottom line: When it comes to diet, men who pay attention to the big picture can occasionally eat “bad” foods they love.

Note: OrganicAuthority.com recommends eating certified organic food to maximize flavor and nutrition, while minimizing your risk of exposure to pesticides, chemicals and preservatives.