Choosing the right diet for you can be an overwhelming experience. Not only do you need to find something that suits your lifestyle and health needs, you need to do so from a seemingly endless array of diets. First, it is important to understand that diet, in this case, does not mean a temporary way of eating to help you lose weight. Fad and crash diets are usually not considered healthy and are rarely long-term solutions for feeding your body.
For our purposes, diet means an ongoing way of eating. It is a lifestyle choice and it is usually chosen for reasons beyond weight loss. A diet can help you achieve a healthy weight, but once there, you do not completely alter your way of eating. Three of the most common diets include:
The Raw Diet includes mostly vegan food choices, but may feature limited amounts of raw milk, cheese, and fish. The majority of food (at least 70%) eaten is uncooked. Some food is heated, but never above 118 degrees F. Foods can be soaked, sprouted, pickled, juiced, fermented, dehydrated, blended, or eaten in their original form. People following a raw diet eat a lot of legumes, seeds, nuts, fruit, and vegetables. They use the preparation methods to make these foods mimic so-called traditional foods. For instance, seeds and vegetables can be dehydrated and/or blended into bread. Pasta can be made from vegetables including squash and spinach.
The Macrobiotic Diet was developed by George Ohsawa, whose goal was to create a simple diet that would help build optimal health. The original macrobiotic diet was progressively restrictive with the ultimate aim being to eat only water and rice. Todays macrobiotic diet is more inclusive and most health experts believe it provides sufficient nutrition, unlike the final stage of the original version.
The macrobiotic diet includes approximately 50% to 60% whole grains. Vegetables make up approximately 25% to 30% of daily food consumption, and beans equal the remaining 10% or so. Vegetarian soups are recommended for daily consumption.
The macrobiotic diet is not vegetarian and most practitioners of this diet include a small amount of fish or other seafood each weak. It is typically consumed with a detoxifying food, such as ginger, wasabi, or horseradish. Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy are rarely included on this diet. In addition to following strict food choice guidelines, practitioners of macrobiotic diets also consider their age, gender, and health needs when designing their eating plan. Local climate and the variety of seasonal foods available may also play a role.
Vegan diets are similar to vegetarian diets, but the diet also restricts dairy, eggs, and anything else that is an animal product. Most vegans also adopt a complete lifestyle of veganism and avoid clothing and products made from animal products, such as fur, silk, leather, or wool. Vegan diets include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Determining which diet is best for you is a very personal choice. Your first concern should be for your health and you should speak with your doctor about designing a diet that offers optimal nutrition for your body.
Each of the diets listed above offers a variety of health benefits, but these benefits are no guarantee the diet is right for you. Raw diets are thought to leave the natural enzymes in food unharmed, so your body benefits more from eating food. For instance, cooking broccoli destroys many of the cancer-fighting compounds found in the vegetables. However, some foods are healthier when cooked, so choosing this diet becomes a matter of determining how best to deal with your personal health issues.
Macrobiotic diets are low in fat and high in fiber, making them an excellent choice for someone suffering from high blood pressure. Cancer patients may also find the macrobiotic diet effective, though some health professionals discourage placing limits on food choices when undergoing cancer treatment because it can lead to unhealthy weight loss.
Vegan diets offer similar benefits to the macrobiotic and raw diets, but are sometimes chosen for ethical reasons, in addition to improved health. Choosing not to include animal products in your diet may also eliminate concerns about toxins many believe are found in meat and dairy.
Keep in mind, the diet that might be right for you during one phase of your life may not provide what you need at a different time. Pay close attention to how you feel and how certain foods affect your body. This will help you make changes to your diet during each phase of your life. It is OK to switch diets when necessary and nourishing your body is always more important than adhering to a strict set of diet rules.