You’ve tried them all or been curious in the least. Perhaps friends or family members have had success on a specific diet, or it’s what everyone is doing and you suffer from FOMO. Perhaps your favourite celebrity swears by it, or a renowned health expert you follow on social media is giving it both thumbs up.
Whatever reason you choose to follow a specific diet, I urge you to at least understand what the diet is based on and who it’s targeted at. Avoid simply jumping on the latest diet trend.
To give you a head start, here are some popular diets and what they entail.
VEGAN DIET/PLANT-BASED DIET
Excludes all animal products as well as animal-derived ingredients including meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
The diet is comprised mainly of plant-based foods like vegetables, fruit, beans, and legumes as well as grains.
Benefits: Very high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and low in processed foods. It can help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent the onset of disease.
Drawbacks: Can be low in some essential nutrients, like B12 and iron. Can also be high in processed foods and carbs if you’re not careful to eat properly balanced meals or have to opt for quick/fast food choices when you’re on the go and can’t find healthy vegan options or restaurants.
Excludes carbohydrates that contain the protein gluten ( found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye)
Benefits: In individuals who are intolerant or sensitive to gluten, this dietary approach can decrease inflammation in the body and eliminate symptoms like cramping, bloating, joint pain, etc. It can be a very healthy diet.
Drawbacks: It can also be unhealthy if the gluten-containing items are merely replaced with “gluten-free” versions of things like muffins and biscuits. Very often “gluten-free” foods are void of nutrients and high in processed additives and chemicals.
Also referred to as the “caveman” diet – based on that of the hunter-gatherer of the Paleolithic era.
Includes fresh meats (preferably grass fed or free range), fish, seafood, fruit, vegetables, seeds, and nuts, plus healthy oils.
Excludes dairy, cereal grains, legumes, refined sugars, or processed foods.
Benefits: High in protein, and therefore low glycemic, which is beneficial for blood sugar and weight loss. Also high in fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins and nutrients, and full of Omega-3 fatty acids which can decrease inflammation.
Drawbacks: High in saturated fat if red meat is the primary source of animal protein as opposed to lean choices like chicken. Can be low in fibre due to exclusion of grains and legumes, leading to digestive issues.
WHOLE FOODS DIET
Eating foods that are in their most natural state, and avoiding processed foods.
Benefits: Includes organic and high-quality, fresh produce, whole foods and unprocessed foods. The abundance of plant and whole foods can help curb cravings for sugar and junk food. Plenty minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants.
Drawbacks: Organic produce can be difficult to find and/or expensive. Transitioning from processed foods to whole foods can be challenging.
Promotes ketosis, which means that the body uses fat instead of carbohydrates as fuel. The theory behind ketosis states that because the body does not have to secrete insulin to control blood glucose levels, sugar levels stay normal and do not fluctuate.
Benefits: Eliminates excess sugar and processed carbohydrate intake. It has been shown to decrease blood sugar levels, help to keep blood sugar levels stable, and reduces hunger.
Drawbacks: Eliminating carbohydrates decreases fibre intake as well as many vital vitamins and minerals. It may promote high acidic levels. Energy levels may also be low.
Involves an elimination period where all highly reactive foods are eliminated, including wheat, gluten, soy, eggs, corn, and dairy.
After the elimination period, you gradually reintroduce “safe” foods.
Benefits: Food sensitivity is currently a big topic. This “diet” deals with this very real issue that creates a chronic inflammatory state in the body that can lead to weight loss resistance, as well as, other symptoms and eventually illness. Due to the foods eliminated, especially wheat and gluten, weight loss is often experienced after following this diet plan.
Drawbacks: Doesn’t address the lifestyle, emotional, and habitual aspects of weight loss. Often results is binging on your favourite foods after having completely avoiding so many things for so long. May also be unrealistic or too difficult long-term
Personally, I’m a firm believer that there is no “one diet that fits all”. We all have different needs, lifestyles, likes and dislikes… It’s about choosing a dietary lifestyle that best suits you and will have longevity.
“The best diet is the one you don’t know you’re on”.