Trendy eating seems to be everywhere thanks to celebrity endorsements and social media influence, but are these diet fads all hype or do they actually lead to healthy living?
In a bid to to discover which styles of eating might be worth attempting, researchers surveyed over 1,000 ‘dieters’ about their inspirations for a new way of eating and their experiences along the way.
When you hear the term ‘dieter’ you immediately imagine someone whose sole mission in life is to shed the extra pounds and fit into those too-tight jeans. But the study’s findings tell a different story.
HEALTH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A NUMBER ON THE SCALE
Aside from those on the keto diet —who were after a number on a scale— the top motivator for going on diet was in fact health-related. (Perhaps the rising rate of lifestyle diseases prompted the change in attitude?)
Interestingly, men and women practiced these diets at roughly equal rates, albeit for slightly different reasons. Women were more inclined to make changes to feel healthier overall, while guys were only prompted into action when faced with a specific health concern.
WHICH DIET SHOULD YOU FOLLOW?
We’re all different, so it follows we all have unique needs, goals and desires. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Also, despite the study’s findings, the word ‘diet’ is still loaded with expectations, most of which aren’t helpful.
It also implies something impermanent. You go on diet to lose weight for a wedding or because summer is coming or because your cholesterol is a little higher than your physician would like.
But as soon as the nuptials are over, winter has returned or your LDL number has dipped, you revert back to your old ways. Humans are sadly lacking in staying power. We’re all about the quick fix.
LIFESTYLE VERSUS DIET
A far better approach is to adopt a healthier lifestyle in general. Choosing a sustainable way of eating is much easier than adhering to a strict diet with weird rules.
As anyone who’s ever been on one of these fad diets will attest to, you can only keep going for so long before your desire for chocolate cake and pasta hijacks all sense of reason.
Rather than eliminate carbs completely, commit to not eating them after four. Instead of a blanket no to bread, ditch the refined junk and opt for a stone ground, sourdough rye. Your taste buds will adjust, I promise.
THE PLANT-SLANTED APPROACH
Perhaps the easiest way to get and stay healthy is to follow the advice of well known food writer Michael Pollan, who said, “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”
This wisdom echoes that of the world’s longest lived and healthiest people. Blue Zonesinhabitants routinely eat a plant-slanted diet that includes beans, whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables.
These sprightly centenarians consume meat in small amounts and in the case of the Seventh Day Adventists, not at all. They also follow the eighty percent rule and dish up their meals in the kitchen to avoid overeating.
That’s not to say they’re all plants and no play however. Red wine is a staple in their diet and they enjoy a glass or two every evening with dinner. What it boils down to is a smart combination of mindfulness and moderation.
A LITTLE HEALTHY MOTIVATION
Changing your mindset to focus on a healthy lifestyle rather than chase that elusive quick fix can be challenging. But it’s by no means impossible. Sometimes all it takes is a little motivation to get you on track.
These documentaries all prove Hippocrates’ adage that food is medicine and medicine food. And there are plenty more like them. The more insight you gain into the Standard American Diet and the health risks it poses, the easier it will be to avoid those foods.
Your health is a lifelong endeavor, not a three-week crash diet. When you approach it like that you make your life infinitely easier, not to mention a whole lot more fun. Think about it, your risk of disease goes down and you get to drink red wine (just not excessively).