It seems like every day there’s a new diet popping up in the wellness scene (Pegan? Okinawa diet? Ketotarian?) that’s supposed to be the end-all, be-all of healthy eating—making easy to get confused and downright frustrated when you just can’t figure out what you’re “supposed” to be eating.
Here’s the thing: There’s no one “right” way to eat well (despite what Instagram influencers might have you believe). “With every diet, there’s no one size fits all—everything is individual,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, CDN, an NYC-based registered dietitian. “If you’re doing something that works for you and it feels long-term, that’s what matters.” So whether you’re a Keto enthusiast or a Med diet lover, as long as your health is in check, you’re good to go.
Of course, that makes sifting through all of the many (many) eating plans out there a bit more complicated. We spoke with Zeitlin to give you an at-a-glance version of some of the best healthy diets out there (only the legit ones, none of this “military diet” nonsense), including insight as to which health needs they’re best suited for. Snack on this for future reference.
Best for: People who want something easy to follow
Overview: The Mediterranean diet is a mostly non-restrictive eating plan primarily focused on plant-based foods, says Zeitlin. (And it was rated the healthiest diet of 2019 by U.S. News and World Report.) The protein typically comes from fish, since the diet is based off living by the Mediterranean Sea, but poultry is also common. The Med diet has some serious health benefits too; research has shown that following this eating plan reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood. It’s also associated with longevity, better brain health, and reduced risk of disease. And those benefits are backed by a wide body of research.
What’s on the menu: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, protein that comes from fish or poultry, and healthy fats like avocados and olive oil.
Any restrictions? There are technically no “restricted” foods. However, adherants are advised to limit how much red meat, refined sugars, and processed foods they eat.
What the experts say: “The Mediterranean diet makes sure you get all the good foods in, without really being restrictive and feeling like you’re on a specific diet,” says Zeitlin. “It’s inclusive of all the food groups; you can take this lifestyle plan with you wherever you go.”
Best for: Heart health
Overview: The DASH diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (AKA high blood pressure). The DASH eating plan is similar to the Mediterranean-style diet, focusing on mostly plant-based foods and lean proteins. However, there is a bigger emphasis on eating less sodium and fewer saturated fats. Studies show that the DASH diet improves blood pressure, lowers LDL cholesterol, and can control lipid levels.
What’s on the menu: Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, as well as lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish.
Any restrictions? Foods high in sodium and saturated fat (like fatty meats, coconut oil, and full-fat dairy) and refined sugar.
What the expert says: “This is a healthy, long-term lifestyle plan that people can adapt to easily and it will help them maintain their health goals for longer,” says Zeitlin. “It’s fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean cuts of meat…all A-pluses!”
Best for: Very specific health applications
Overview: The eating plan has exploded in popularity over the last year and a half, but it’s actually been around for decades. Zeitlin says the ketogenic diet was originally created for children with epilepsy whose seizures were not responding to medication. However, people have recently turned to it for its potential fat-burning, metabolism-boosting properties. The high-fat, low-carb eating plan kicks the body into ketosis, forcing it to burn fat instead of carbs for energy. However, there is limited research on the ketogenic diet’s benefits (most has been done on mice, and the human clinical trials have had mixed results).
What’s on the menu: It’s a restrictive plan—75 percent of your calories come from fat, 20 percent come from protein, and only 5 percent come from carbohydrates. But you choose your fat and protein sources, whether that’s lean meat and avocados, or bacon and butter. (Although most experts don’t recommend the latter.)
Any restrictions? Most carbohydrates and sugar, and sometimes even starchier vegetables and fruits. It’s all about meeting those very specific macros.
What the expert says: Zeitlin is…not a fan of keto. “This diet is restrictive,” she says, and she doesn’t consider it healthy for everyone. “Regardless of weight-loss and the potential for long-term heart health, if only 5 percent of your calories are coming from carbohydrates—your grains, fruits, and vegetables—that’s where all the fiber comes from,” she says. It’s generally only recommended for short-term periods of time, and only under the supervision of a doctor or other health expert. People trying it should also be aware of some of its more gnarly side effects, like keto breath.
Best for: The environment
Overview: The vegan diet takes plant-based eating to the next level. Many of the benefits of eating a vegan diet are environmental—by not buying or eating animal products, you’re creating a smaller carbon footprint. And generally, eating a diet high in plants and low in animal products has been associated with longevity and other health benefits.
What’s on the menu: Anything that doesn’t come from an animal. Protein comes from plant-based sources like soy, chickpeas, legumes, and vegan protein powders and vitamins and minerals from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Any restrictions? Anything with animal products (like meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, and even honey in some cases). Vegans generally also avoid using any products that come from animals, like leather or animal-tested beauty products.
What the expert says: “It’s definitely a sustainable way of living, in terms of the environment,” says Zeitlin. “There’s no real downside [to veganism] as long as you’re incorporating plant-based proteins and a variety of fruits and vegetables.” However, some people might find it hard to stick with because it’s so restrictive. It also can be harder to get certain vitamins and minerals like B-12, omega-3s, and calcium (commonly only found in animal products), so talk to your doctor about potential supplementation if you’re interested in trying the eating plan.
Best for: Inflammation
Overview: The concept of Paleo is to eat like our ancestors, Zeitlin explains. It’s a gluten- and dairy-free diet with a heavy focus on animal protein, vegetables, and fruit. Paleo enthusiasts claim that our bodies are wired to adapt to the diet because of our hunter-gatherer roots.
What’s on the menu: Animal proteins (all meats, fish, and poultry), high-fiber fruits, veggies, and grains. There’s a particular focus on eating organic, grass-fed, sustainable foods wherever possible.
Any restrictions? Grains, dairy, legumes (read: no peanuts or peanut butter), and foods high in sodium or refined sugar. Some people also choose to cut out alcohol and coffee, although that’s not mandatory.
What the expert says: “[Paleo] is not inherently unhealthy—it depends on the food that you’re filling the plan with,” says Zeitlin. “It’s not overly restrictive either. It’s about what are you willing to give up and how do you feel when you’re on it?” It is often recommended for people with chronic illnesses since it cuts out a lot of potentially inflammatory food sources, which can help better manage symptoms.
Best for: A short-term reset
Overview: Whole30 is a restrictive diet meant to last only 30 days; it should not be thought of as a long-term plan. The purpose, according to Zeitlin, is to re-evaluate one’s relationship with food. By cutting out food groups that often lead to health issues and discomfort (like sugar, dairy, gluten), the thinking is that a person can “reset” their system. It has a lot in common with Paleo…but with a few more restrictions.
What’s on the menu: Meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, some fruit, certain fats and oils, herbs, spices, and seasonings.
Any restrictions? Added sugar (natural or artificial), alcohol, grains, legumes (including soy and peanuts), dairy, MSG, sulfites, carrageenan, and baked goods. It’s a long list—the Whole30 website has the full deal.
What the expert says: “The upside is to re-calibrate ones relationship to sugar and sources of sugar,” says Zeitlin. “At the end of the 30 days, your threshold for sweetness will be a lot lower, closer to when we’re born.” The downside, Zeitlin says, is that it can put a damper on your social life because of all the restrictions…and the whole “no alcohol” part. The rules may make it tough to stick to for a month—especially because if a person slips up and eats a restricted food, they have to start over.
Best for: GI distress
Overview: The Low FODMAP (which stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di, Monosaccharides, And Polyols) diet reduces sources of fermented carbohydrates that can cause unpleasant GI issues like burping, bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and gas in some people. To follow the diet, you first restrict all high FODMAP foods (outlined below) for around four to six weeks. Then, you systematically reintroduce high FODMAP foods one by one for three days each, to see which ones you tolerate and which ones cause discomfort. The last stage incorporates the high FODMAP foods your body responded well to.
What’s on the menu: Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, hard cheese, some fruits and veggies, rice, oats, quinoa, soy, non-dairy milks and yogurts, small servings of nuts.
Any restrictions?: High FODMAP foods like wheat, rye, legumes, onions, garlic, milk, yogurt, soft cheese, mangoes, figs, honey, agave nectar, blackberries, lychee, some low-calorie sweeteners, and more.
What the expert says: “It’s restrictive initially, but the goal is to re-introduce one food at a time to see what triggers you and what doesn’t trigger you,” says Zeitlin. “It’s not meant to be restrictive forever. It’s kind of an experiment. If your goal is that you have so many GI issues that you need to figure out, yeah, I would suggest this diet.”
Find out what happened when a Well+Good writer cut out processed foods for a month to kick her “healthy” eating habits. And if you have more food questions, these RDs and nutrition experts have answers.
Don't Let These Problems Get in the Way of Healthy Eating – ConsumerReports.org
A slight drop in appetite is typical with age. And because your sense of smell and sense of taste decline over the years, food can seem less appetizing, notes Ronan Factora, M.D., a geriatrician at the Cleveland Clinic. Chronic conditions such as dementia and kidney failure can reduce appetite, too.
Smart solutions: You don’t need to be overly concerned unless you’re unintentionally losing weight. But to ward off problems, stay as physically active as possible. Exercise, including resistance training, helps you retain muscle mass, which keeps your metabolism humming and potentially ramps up appetite.
And consider tai chi: A study in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine last April found that older adults who practiced this regularly reported increased appetite.
If you get full quickly, consider eating five smaller daily meals instead of three larger ones (with protein in at least three meals). Add healthy nutrients and extra calories, if needed, by including milk powder, egg whites, olive oil, and drinks such as fruit smoothies in your diet.
To stimulate your appetite, suck on hard candy before meals, says Lauri Wright, Ph.D., R.D.N., a nutrition professor at the University of North Florida. Prescription appetite stimulants such as megestrol acetate (Megace and generic) improve appetite only slightly but boost the risk of blood clots and fluid retention.
14 Simple Ways to Stick to a Healthy Diet – EcoWatch
Eating healthy can help you lose weight and have more energy.
It can also improve your mood and reduce your risk of disease.
Yet despite these benefits, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can be challenging.
Here are 14 ways to stick to a healthy diet.
1. Start With Realistic Expectations
Eating a nutritious diet has many benefits, including potential weight loss.
However, it’s important to set realistic expectations.
For example, if you pressure yourself to lose weight too quickly, your plan to achieve better health may backfire.
Researchers found that obese people who expected to lose a lot of weight were more likely to drop out of a weight loss program within 6–12 months (1).
Setting a more realistic and achievable goal can keep you from getting discouraged and may even lead to greater weight loss.
Having realistic expectations increases your chances of maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviors.
2. Think About What Really Motivates You
Remembering why you’re making healthy choices can help you stay on course.
Making a list of specific reasons why you want to get healthier can be helpful.
Keep this list handy and refer to it when you feel you need a reminder.
When you’re tempted to indulge in unhealthy behaviors, remembering what motivates you can help you stay on track.
3. Keep Unhealthy Foods Out of the House
It’s difficult to eat healthy if you’re surrounded by junk foods.
If other family members want to have these foods around, try keeping them hidden rather than on countertops.
The saying “out of sight, out of mind” definitely applies here.
Keeping unhealthy foods out of the house, or at least out of sight, can increase your chances of staying on track.
4. Don’t Have an “All or Nothing” Approach
A major roadblock to achieving a healthy diet and lifestyle is black-and-white thinking.
One common scenario is that you have a few unhealthy appetizers at a party, decide that your diet is ruined for the day, and proceed to overindulge in unhealthy foods.
Instead of considering the day ruined, try putting the past behind you and choosing healthy, unprocessed foods that contain protein for the remainder of the party.
This will help you feel full and satisfied rather than stuffed and frustrated.
A few off-plan choices make very little difference in the long run, as long as you balance them with healthy foods.
Rejecting the urge to judge your day as “good” or “bad” can prevent you from overeating and making poor choices.
5. Carry Healthy Snacks
Sticking to a healthy diet can be tough when you’re away from home for extended periods.
When you get too hungry on the go, you may end up grabbing whatever is available.
This is often processed food that doesn’t really satisfy hunger and isn’t good for you in the long run.
Some examples of good, portable snacks are almonds, peanuts and jerky. Also consider filling a small cooler with hard-boiled eggs, cheese or Greek yogurt.
Take healthy, high-protein snacks when you’re on the road or traveling in case you’re unable to eat a meal for several hours.
6. Exercise and Change Diet at the Same Time
You may have heard you shouldn’t change too many things at once when trying to improve your health. In general, this is good advice.
Still, research shows that when you make both dietary and physical activity changes at the same time, the results tend to reinforce each other.
In a study in 200 people, those who began eating a healthy diet and exercising at the same time found it easier to maintain these behaviors than those who started with either diet or exercise alone, then added the other later (5).
Simultaneously beginning to exercise and changing the way you eat increases your chances of healthy lifestyle success.
7. Have a Game Plan Before Eating Out
Trying to maintain a healthy diet while eating out can be very challenging.
Still, there are ways to make it easier, such as checking out the menu before you go or drinking water before and during the meal.
It’s best to have a strategy in place before you get to the restaurant rather than being overwhelmed once you get there.
Having a plan before eating out can help you make healthier food choices.
8. Don’t Let Traveling Derail You
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, being outside of your familiar territory can make it difficult to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few tips:
- Research the restaurants and supermarkets ahead of time.
- Challenge yourself to stay on track for most of the trip.
You can stick to a healthy eating plan while traveling. All it takes is a bit of research, planning, and commitment.
9. Practice Mindful Eating
Eating mindfully can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Take time to enjoy your food and appreciate its ability to nourish you. This increases your chances of making successful, lasting behavioral changes.
In a four-month study, overweight and obese women who practiced mindful eating significantly improved their relationship with food (6).
Another 6-week study in women with binge eating disorder found that binge episodes decreased from 4 to 1.5 per week when the women practiced mindful eating. Plus, the severity of each binge decreased (7).
Adopting a mindful eating approach can help you achieve a better relationship with food and may reduce binge eating.
10. Track and Monitor Your Progress
Measuring your exercise progress is also beneficial and provides you with motivation that can help you keep going.
In a three-month study, overweight women who were given pedometers walked farther and lost six times more weight than those who didn’t use them (11).
Tracking your food intake and exercise progress can provide motivation and accountability. Studies show that it helps you stick to a healthy diet and leads to greater weight loss.
11. Get a Partner to Join You
Sticking with a healthy eating and exercise plan can be tough to do on your own.
Researchers studying data from more than 3,000 couples found that when one person made a positive lifestyle change, such as increasing physical activity, the other was more likely to follow their lead (13).
Having a partner join you in making healthy lifestyle changes can increase your chances of success.
12. Start the Day With a High-Protein Breakfast
Eating a high-protein breakfast helps you stay full and can prevent overeating later in the day.
13. Realize That It Takes Time to Change Your Habits
Don’t be discouraged if it takes longer than you expect to adapt to your new, healthy way of living.
Researchers have found that it takes an average of 66 days to make a new behavior a habit (16).
Eventually, eating healthy and exercising regularly will become automatic.
Do your best to stay motivated and focused while you adapt to a healthy lifestyle. It takes 66 days to make a new habit, on average.
14. Figure Out What Works Best for You
There is no perfect way that works for everyone.
It’s important to find a way of eating and exercising that you enjoy, find sustainable and can stick to for the rest of your life.
The best diet for you is the one you can stick to in the long run.
Weight loss methods that work for some people are not guaranteed to work for you. To lose weight and keep it off, find effective strategies that you can stick to in the long term.
The Bottom Line
Breaking your habits and improving your diet is not easy.
However, several strategies can help you stick to your diet plans and lose weight.
These include mindful eating, keeping unhealthy snacks out of sight, carrying healthy snacks and managing your expectations. Still, one of the keys to a successful diet is finding out what works for you in the long term.
If you’re trying to lose weight, some of the strategies above may give you a significant advantage.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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Students should prioritize healthy eating – The Crimson While
April 18, 2019
Filed under OPINION
So many people claim it is impossible to live a healthy lifestyle in college. Students complain healthy food is expensive or that they don’t have the space to cook meals. They complain they don’t have the money to spend on a gym membership and the Rec Center is always too crowded. Those are a bunch of excuses, quite honestly.
To begin, healthy food does not cost any more than unhealthy food. It’s probably easier to run through McDonalds for breakfast than to run to the store and grab some eggs. But hey, eggs will last a lot longer. You can get a good four meals out of that, and they’re what, $2 or $3? Grab some chicken and vegetables and meal prep for the week. It’ll end up saving plenty of time.
I know it can be a little difficult to cook in the dorms, but that pertains to freshmen only; the rest of you have no excuse. And freshmen, there are kitchens in the dorms. Use them. It may be a little inconvenient to lug food and dishes to the first floor just to cook, but isn’t it worth it in the long run? Make a dinner out of it – get the roommates together and prepare a nice little meal for yourselves.
And for those of you who are in a fraternity or a sorority, you have three meals made for you every day. I know those meals aren’t always the healthiest, but nearly all of the houses have a salad bar. For example, the Alpha Gamma Delta house has a salad bar with grilled chicken on it. Every day I make a salad with grilled chicken for both lunch and dinner. I choose to ignore the unhealthy choices and go straight for the protein and veggies. You are more than capable of making these same decisions, no matter the house you are a part of.
I know the Rec Center stays crowded, but that’s just an excuse. It might be a little intimidating at first, but I promise nobody is really paying attention to you; they’re too busy focusing on their own workout. Put your headphones in, zone everyone else out and do your thing. If you don’t feel comfortable using the machines, try one of the group classes. The Rec offer class after class, day in and day out. And if the free Rec Center isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of inexpensive places around town to join, like Planet Fitness and Crunch Fitness.
We all sit here and complain about how the “freshman 15” is a very real thing, but we don’t do a darn thing about it. We go out, splurge on late night snacks and refuse to go to the gym.
So here I am, encouraging you to stop making excuses. Get your butt off of the couch and turn off the Netflix. Stop going through the drive-thru, walk into the store and grab some fruit and vegetables. Buy the frozen ones if you need to – it’s a little cheaper. Go get a gym membership, or walk yourself into the Rec Center that is free for full-time undergraduate students. Make it a lifestyle. Make it a routine. Once you start, I promise you won’t want to stop. Living healthy is a choice, and one you need to be willing to make.
- "You're Just Peeing Out a Lot of Money." This Is the Real Way You're Flushing Your Retirement Savings Down the Drain – MONEY
- Don't Let These Problems Get in the Way of Healthy Eating – ConsumerReports.org
- FDA Sends Warning Letters on Dietary Supplements – Wall Street Journal
- 14 Simple Ways to Stick to a Healthy Diet – EcoWatch
- New Tool Alerts Public to Unlawfully Marketed Dietary Supplement Ingredients – The Cardiology Advisor
"You're Just Peeing Out a Lot of Money." This Is the Real Way You're Flushing Your Retirement Savings Down the Drain – MONEY
Don't Let These Problems Get in the Way of Healthy Eating – ConsumerReports.org
FDA Sends Warning Letters on Dietary Supplements – Wall Street Journal
14 Simple Ways to Stick to a Healthy Diet – EcoWatch
New Tool Alerts Public to Unlawfully Marketed Dietary Supplement Ingredients – The Cardiology Advisor
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