Popular Diets Demystified – The Light at the End of Fad Diets by, Jaime Slavin #wellbeingwednesday
Doesn’t it feel like the world of nutrition advice is ever-changing and the list of diets to follow has your head spinning? This time of year is especially tough as we are faced with a smorgasbord of food at different holiday functions and then as soon as the New Year hits we put pressure on ourselves to be back on track with a healthy living regime. Here are some key points about the more popular diets this past year.
Paleo diets: The Paleo way of eating has become popular amongst people wanting to explore the world of our Paleolithic ancestors who ate mostly animals, fish, nuts, vegetables, berries and other edible forgeable foods. While this diet touts that it can decrease the onset of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory diseases (such as arthritis), it must be looked at from a few angles. Firstly, dairy and grain products are excluded from this diet, so it is important to make sure you are getting calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D and fibre from other sources. Additionally, it is important to watch your protein consumption, as excessive amounts of protein can be hard on the kidneys.
Vegan diets: This diet is all about plant based eating in which foods are centered on non-animal sources. Common foods are fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. This diet involves proper meal planning to ensure that you are meeting all your nutrient requirements. Opt for meals that will provide you with non-heme iron, B vitamins and a good amount of plant-based protein. There is research indicating that plant based diets are a crucial component in prevention of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer. Inevitably, you may wonder why the Paleo diet, which promotes animal consumption, and the vegan diet claim some of the same results, even though they are on the opposite side of the spectrum. Ultimately, the common denominator amongst both diets is minimizing your intake of processed foods and upping your intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole foods.
Gluten Free diets: Once prescribed only for people with celiac disease, nowadays people are electively choosing gluten free diets for weight loss as well as to improve ailments such as digestive health issues and skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. While many people report feeling better or seeing improvements in their conditions, there are those who don’t see or feel any difference. Unfortunately, there are too many gluten free food products that are loaded with processed gluten free flours, sugars and other fillers. In turn, ones health may not be improving due to the overconsumption of processed foods. Whether or not you have celiac disease or are exploring a gluten free lifestyle, be sure to choose whole foods and avoid heavily processed gluten free products. Select and cook with whole foods that are gluten free (e.g. brown rice, wild rice, teff, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet) to add variety into your meals.
If you are exploring the world of different diets, before you commit to a specific one, be informed and be realistic with your choices. While I don’t advocate for a certain diet, I always emphasize how important it is to pay attention to your body to ensure that no matter what food lifestyle you choose, you feel satisfied, healthy and thriving.
JAIME SLAVIN is a nutritionist, registered dietician, masters of public health, food educator and advocate for your health and wellbeing jaimeslavin.com