I recently saw a news piece about the best diets for 2019, which prompted me to conduct a further investigation into which ones were receiving highest marks and why. But first before I share what I learned, I would like to tackle the word “diet.” We seem to associate this word with taking out or restricting our food intake, whether it be amount or type. The actual first definition of the word “diet” means; what you normally eat. Which is basically the types of food you typically eat in a day.
This is the definition that resonates with me the most as I believe the way we eat is a lifestyle, not a short-term fix. So often we are pulled in by new wellness trends or fad diets that don’t help us achieve the results we are looking for. We want the way we are eating to sustain us long-term over the course of our lives, a diet that positively affects our long-term health and lifestyle goals and creates lasting change. So when I use the term diet, I mean the way we generally eat overall.
Here are the top four diets recommended by US News Health.
This has consistently been one of the most popular diets for years. Even though those living in the Mediterranean region eat a bit differently, there are some basic principles that apply. Benefits to this diet include, losing and maintaining weight, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control. This diet puts an emphasis on fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes and olive oil. It allows for fish and seafood a couple times a week while recommending moderate amounts of poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt. Sweets or red meat are only to be consumed on special occasions. A glass of red wine also has a place here if you want. There is also a recommendation for physical activity which could be as simple as taking a walk for those who are looking for light exercise.
DASH stands for, dietary approaches to stop hypertension. The benefits of this diet are exactly what it stands for, stopping hypertension or high blood pressure. This diet also has an emphasis on eating fruits, veggies, lean protein, and low-fat dairy. It discourages foods that are high in saturated fat such as, fatty meats, full-fat dairy and tropical oils while also drinking less sugar-sweetened beverages and eating less sweets. However, the most notable added component here is the restriction on sodium intake. Lowering sodium intake has been shown to lower blood pressure. The recommendation is to make slow changes over time rather than changing quickly which could derail a person from sticking with these eating habits.
3-The Flexitarian Diet
This diet essentially means “flexible vegetarian.” This means that you are vegetarian most of the time while occasionally eating meat. The benefits of eating more plant foods and less meat will help with weight loss, improve overall health and lower the rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancer which results in longer life expectancy. It’s convenient and flexible because the focus isn’t on taking foods out, but rather on adding in more fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains. They also leave room for some dairy and sugar and spices to be used in a way that works for you.
This has been and still is one of the most popular diets, especially now that Oprah is using and promoting it. It’s a weight loss program with a focus on healthy living. Each food is assigned different points and each person is allowed a certain amount of points each day. They can then choose the foods to eat based on how many points they get. Weight Watchers recently launched their Freestyle program which has expanded the choices of food options for those on their points system. This is the only diet listed here with an added cost depending on the plan you choose. However, this cost includes support from people who have found success on weight watchers. Studies show that while this program is effective for weight loss it might not be more effective than other diets or healthy eating habits. There are many people though, who have been on this program that attribute their weight loss to being part of this diet.
There were many other diets on the list, but I focused on the top four since most of us only care about the ones at the top anyway. The moral of the story as I see it is; eat more whole foods. These diets all recommended eating more fruits, veggies and whole grains. These foods have been shown to be the most protective against certain health risks. No matter which diet you choose to adhere to, make sure half your plate is full of veggies, one quarter whole grains and one quarter lean protein or beans, leaving a little room for wholefood fats.