Wow, that was a long series. I hope it gave you some options for improving your diet and maybe some understanding of why others choose to eat the way they do.
Although I learned a lot myself, I’m ready to move on to a new topic. But before I do, let me share some common threads to all these diets.
- Plant-based – Obviously, the Vegan and vegetarian diets are solely plant-based, but plants as a majority of the food intake was a common even in the Atkins Diet, after the induction phase.
- Limited Grains – The Paleo Diet excludes them completely, and some diets limit them to whole grains. Processed wheat, rice, and corn are the downfall of diets worldwide. It’s how we feed the masses, but they are nothing more than empty calories. They will sustain life, but not health.
- Whole food – Avoiding processed foods whenever possible was also a common thread. Eat a piece of fish rather than drinking a protein shake. They both contain about 15 grams of protein, but the real thing is much better than the processed food.
- Raw versus Cooked – Obviously, the Raw Food Diet is at the extreme, but all the diets promote eating a large percentage of your fruits and vegetables raw. If you have a thyroid issue, then avoid eating the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) raw as they are goitrogens. Otherwise, I recommend about 50% of your diet be composed of raw fruits and vegetables.
- Adequate protein intake – All the diets focused on eating protein frequently. This can be a problem with the vegetarian diet. However, Americans often eat too much protein. (They generally just eat too much of everything) About 45 grams of protein per day is adequate. Make sure you have some protein at every meal, especially breakfast. A protein snack is a good idea as well.
- Healthy fats – This is a real change in thinking for many. Fat has been demonized for the past generation and many healthy fats have disappeared from our diet. Some fats, like the omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are essential. We cannot manufacture them from other foods, they must be in the diet to sustain life. But many fats are healthy, in fact, it’s the “reduced fat” products that contain most of the trans-fats that are so unhealthy. The data never supported a low-fat diet as a preventative for heart disease. It was just manipulated to support the need to lower serum cholesterol by selling statin drugs. I know this is hard for many of you, but add those healthy fats back into your diet. Fat is extremely satiating. I honestly believe that the loss of healthy fats from the American diet is a major factor in our epidemic with obesity.
The Bottom Line:
So pick one of these diet formats that fits your lifestyle. Or maybe combine some aspects from a couple of them. I think the Mediterranean Diet is the easiest for Americans to follow, but I like aspects of all of them. The key is to find the format that works for you, something you can adopt as a lifestyle rather than constantly “trying to diet”. Next week I’ll review when to take your supplements.
The South Beach Diet
The Raw Food Diet
The Mediterranean Diet
The Vegan Diet
The Vegetarian Diet
The Zone Diet
The Atkins Diet
The Eight Most Popular Diets - Introduction