More than ever it seems we are living in an environment of excess: A massive sea of cheap calories and large portions. This can be found almost anywhere we go. Out doing a little shopping of any kind and you will find the empty calorie snacks waiting patiently for you as you approach the checkout counter. Not only do grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations strategically place snacks, cookies, and drinks in the checkout line, but now so do home improvement, electronics, and clothing stores. Unfortunately, frequent consumption of excess calories results in weight gain and health issues and so we turn to a “diet” and perhaps “exercise” to fix the problem.
There are some benefits to exploring various “diets” such as bringing awareness to the foods we eat, guiding us to reduce portions, cut back on sugary foods, or encouraging us to meal plan. In the case of the Whole30, Ketogenic, and other meal plans, it may work for some people who are looking for quick, temporary weight loss due to its restrictive nature. But is the latest diet really the solution?
The word diet gets tossed around and has different connotations. Merriam Webster defines diet as
There is a very long list of “diets” and diet books from which to choose. Before starting another diet, consider focusing your time and energy on the concept of developing healthy meal patterns and eating practices that you can sustain. (I.e. Webster’s definitions 1 and 2). Research in longevity reveals that while there are different styles of eating, there are common meal patterns that translate to health, weight management and longevity across the globe.
Therapeutic diets or diet plans (I.e. Webster’s definition 3) are used to manage specific diseases, such as Celiac disease, and are supported by evidence-based research.
Diets (I.e. Webster’s definition 4) that promise a quick and easy solution to permanent weight loss and come with very strict rules that must be followed, set one up for failure. Yes, fad diets can demonstrate weight loss, but often due to excessive caloric restriction and elimination of food groups.
There are some benefits to exploring various diets such as bringing awareness to the foods we eat, guiding us to reduce portions, cut back on sugary foods, or encouraging us to meal plan. The bottom line is to make sure you choose a pattern of eating that is based on factual health information and that the behavior and food choices are sustainable.