As you know I am not about fad diets, cutting out food groups or following cult trends however I am about promoting healthy eating and learning to listen to your body. Every year we see new diet trends and 2018 is no exception. This week on the blog I give a quick overview of the popular diets for 2018.
Time and time again this diet comes out tops for being the healthiest diet in the world. No fads, simply a well balanced approach to healthy eating – lots of fresh produce and plenty of antioxidant rich extra virgin olive oil, fruits and vegetables. The Mediterranean diet consists of fresh foods such as poultry, fish and a small amount of red meat. The lack of processed foods (which are usually high is salt and sugar) and the high amount of antioxidants is what makes this diet so healthy. There is plenty of delicious food to eat on this diet which means you will not go hungry and the most important thing is that it is sustainable.
DASH Diet (stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
This is a sensible healthy diet that promotes healthy eating to reduce high blood pressure risks such as eating less salt and highly processed foods. The DASH diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet so whilst it is aimed at those with hypertension it is good advice for all. Once again this is more of a lifestyle approach to healthy eating rather than a fad diet.
The flexitarian diet focusses on a plant-based diet with the occasional addition of meat. There are no rules hence the ‘flexibility’ of the diet but its main mission is to encourage followers to eat more plant based meals and less meat. It seems a little bit gimmicky (do we really need another ‘diet’ to follow just to have a meat free day once or twice a week) but on the positive side it is promoting us to increase plant based foods in our diet which we know promote good health.
The good thing about weight watchers is that it works well for weight loss and it promotes a sensible approach to eating i.e. all foods are allowed in moderation so there are no feelings or deprivation and it promotes healthy portion sizes. Nothing is off limits, if you want cake you can eat it, it comes down to balance and moderation. Where it falls down is people can get caught up in points and number counting and some of the processed packaged foods included in the diet are not the healthiest options. For those that do eat a highly processed food diet and have weight to lose however this is a good starting point and it is effective when it comes to weight loss.
MIND (focuses on foods that affect brain health)
The MIND Diet includes brain healthy foods to help prevent the decline of cognitive ageing such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries, wholegrains and fish. Sounds a little familiar to the Mediterranean diet don’t you think? The MIND diet recommends reducing the foods that accelerate cognitive decline such as sugar, refined carbohydrates and saturated fat.
If you are following a wholefood diet rich in fresh produce with minimal processed foods you are already following the MIND diet. I don’t think this diet is anything new but it does promote healthy eating. Some foods such as butter and cheese are on the list of foods not to eat so I would question this. Small amounts of butter and cheese can be beneficial to health but once again it comes down to the amount we eat.
The TLC diet (short for Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes) is aimed at people with high cholesterol and focuses on foods that are low in cholesterol and saturated fat but high in good fats such as monounsaturated fats. We now know that saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease and counting cholesterol is foods may have little effect on cardiovascular health so this diet may be out dated. We need good fats and a high fibre diet for heart health but we now know that antioxidants, vitamin K2, vitamin B12 and zinc are also very important when it comes to fighting heart disease. When we look at heart health the Mediterranean is one of the best in my opinion.
This is a bit gimmicky and a tad complicated but for those with a poor diet it is a good way to teach balance when it comes to energy and calories so may be beneficial with weight loss. Food is divided into four different categories or densities. If you go heavy on the high density foods watch your portion sizes with category three, and keep category four choices to a minimum. On the down side it appears to focus less on fresh healthy wholefoods and so seems very basic in its approach to health but may be beneficial for obese individuals.
The Ornish diet promotes eating foods to reverse and prevent disease. It is almost the opposite of the Paleo diet as it encourages eating lots of beans, legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables and cutting down on high fat foods. It includes lists of bad and good foods and promotes a low fat diet. We know that we need fat in the diet for health and well-being so a low fat diet is something that seems outdated. Promoting a healthy diet is important to help prevent disease however having bad and good lists could promote an unhealthy relationship with food. This one seems like a healthy diet with a fancy label just to make a quick buck.
The fertility diet promotes healthy eating to boost chances of conception. Once again this has similar recommendations to the Mediterranean and DASH diet. A poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle can play a significant role in the health of our hormones and reproductive system and so doing all we can to maximise our health via a clean healthy diet is a good way to go.
Most of these diets such as the Mediterranean, DASH, Fertility, MIND etc. are very similar. They are promoting fresh wholefoods, lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables, good fats such as extra virgin olive oil, a high antioxidant and high fibre intake, fish, moderate animal produce and minimal processed foods, salt and sugars. If we follow this advice there is no need to have to follow gimmicky diets. Fresh and natural where possible is the way to go. There really should be no need for a new diet every year, variety and moderation is key with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. If a diet seems too good to be true, is promoting avoiding particular food groups, has rules that are unsustainable or appears to have a cult like following then I would be very wary of it. When in doubt seek qualified advice from a professional nutrition expert rather than follow a trend because everyone else is following.