Eating healthy doesn’t always require complicated meal plans and calorie counting…
Guys, does it feel like every week there’s a new fad diet?
The kind that promise to melt those love handles and define those abs, all while improving your mind and boosting your gut and heart health. Is there anything they can’t do?!
Here’s the thing, while some of these diets actually do work…
...many others fall short, leaving you irritable, hungry, bloated, or even malnourished.
The trick is in being able to recognise which diets work and why.
Not to worry - we’ve done the homework for you!
Firstly, let’s get familiar with a couple of popular diets…
The DASH diet
The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is designed to stop or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension).
In order to achieve these results, this diet puts an emphasis on eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products. It also includes a moderate amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry, and nuts.
DASH discourages foods that are high in sugar or saturated fat, and caps sodium (salt) intake to less than half a teaspoon a day. Best of all, the DASH diet isn’t a fad or a short-term fix; it’s a diet choice that can be followed for the long term.
How to get started:
Getting started on the DASH diet is simple.
You just introduce small, manageable changes into your food regime, including:
- Try eating a couple of meat-free meals during the week.
- Add a serving of fruit or vegetables to each meal.
- Replace salt with herbs or spices to make food tastier.
The Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that reflects what the people in Mediterranean countries traditionally eat. Not only is it low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat, it’s also high in fruit and vegetables, nuts, and other beneficial foods.
How to get started:
The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is the easiest way to understand how to implement changes into your meals.
At the base of the pyramid are the primary foods to consume every day including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, herbs, spices, and healthy fats such as avocados or olive oil.
- On the next level of the pyramid are fish and seafood to consume at least twice weekly.
- Next are weekly moderate portions of dairy food, eggs, and poultry.
- Finally, at the top of the pyramid, are occasional servings of red meat and sweet food.
- Meals should be splashed down with red wine and water, and enjoyed in the company of others with a walk afterward.
What is the secret to the success of these diets?
No hard-core restrictions
Neither of these diets rule out any type of food entirely, though they may discourage sugar, salt, red meats or saturated fats. Nor do they encourage an excess of one food group in particular.
A balanced diet is more nutritious, resulting in a food plan that’s easy to follow.
The 'stickability' factor
A core element of any successful diet is that it’s easy to persevere with.
The DASH and Mediterranean are more about developing healthier eating habits, rather than strict diets. This makes them simple to introduce into a daily routine.
Think of them as a forever food plan, rather than a quick-fix.
Overall, both diets are fairly user-friendly. The guidelines are easy to follow and even if you indulge a little, it’s simple to get back on track. They also don’t include a lot of speciality foods, plus with loads of tasty recipes online, shopping and cooking is a breeze.
Recommended by the Ministry of Health
The DASH and Mediterranean diets both get the stamp of approval, and the green light for providing a ‘nutritionally balanced eating pattern consistent with the Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults for good health.’
In fact, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health doesn’t list any negatives for these two diets at all.
They’re bottom-line healthy choices
Both diets promote eating whole foods rather than convenience and processed foods, so you’ll reduce your sodium and sugar intake. You’ll also get the added benefit of additional vital vitamins, minerals, and healthy antioxidants.
What’s more, both the DASH and Mediterranean offer smart substitution options.
For example, replacing salt with herbs for flavour.
They may help reduce the risks of chronic diseases
Being balanced and nutritious, these meal plans help you lose weight in a healthy way. As a result of achieving a healthy weight, you in turn reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
The downsides of other popular diets
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health doesn’t recommend the Paleo, Detox, or low-carb (eg Keto) diets. In fact, they give many diets a raft of caveats and negative mentions. On the whole, these include:
They only offer short-term benefits.
Once you stop the diet, you’re likely to regain any weight you’ve lost.
Many diets include a subscription, special foods, or an exercise gadget.
There are too many restrictions.
If it’s too hard to figure out what you can or cannot eat, you’re likely to give up on the diet. Plus, you may feel like you’re missing out on the occasional treat.
They can leave you hungry
Dieting shouldn’t leave you starving. If you’re feeling hungry, you might resort to takeaways and convenience foods, thus undoing any potential gains.
They’re not always good for you
Some are just not healthy, not to mention their embarrassing side-effects (cabbage soup diet anyone?).
Choose a diet that offers a healthy way of life
The perfect diet is a long term strategy that’s balanced, nutritious, and inspires a more healthier and happier you to flourish. By choosing a forever meal plan instead of a fad diet, you’ll reap the benefits of a happier, healthier you both in and out of the bedroom.