NUTRITION

The Rundown on the Best and Worst Diet Plans

Everyone has tried out a diet at some point or the other, is dieting really good for your mind and body as advertised? Learn the truth about different diets and their benefits through this guide.

By URLife Team
01 September 2022

Whether you’ve tried them or not, there’s no denying that ‘diet’ culture has pervaded every aspect of our lives. According to the WHO, a healthy diet helps protect against malnutrition in all its forms, as well as noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

 

But with so many diets out there, which one is the right one for you? Here is your quick guide to some of the most popular diets available today, and whether they’re really as good as they claim to be.

 

Ayurvedic Diet

An important aspect of diet, according to Ayurveda, is not to disturb this balance. Disturbing it is like waking up a sleeping tiger. Our diet should respect this balance while also nourishing the doṣas. So, it’s important to understand the nature of our body as well as the nature of food, and accordingly match them. What are these three faults—kapha, pitta and vāta—that Ayurveda is speaking about? It is difficult to translate each of them to a single English word as their description may need volumes. So, we will not translate the meaning and rather take them as they are and try to understand them.

 

Ayurveda considers that everything is made up of five basic elements, similar to what Aristotle believed. These are earth, water, air, fire and ether. These are described in Ayurveda as panca mahābhūta, meaning the five great elements. These elements combine in different ways to create tridoṣa, the building blocks of life systems.

 

Read more: How to Eat Like A Yogi: An Introduction To Ayurvedic Nutrition

 

Flexitarian Diet

A flexitarian diet seeks to incorporate more plant-based products with a gradual decrease in meat consumption. While a flexitarian diet might be a significant overhaul for your lifestyle, it has been touted as a great way to get more vegetables and fruits in your daily diet. Most people are non-vegetarians on some days but vegetarians on all days, and the flexitarian diet seeks to emphasise that. In the diet itself, meat only refers to flesh from animals (chicken, lamb, pig, beef), seafood, products containing animal fat, and so on. It does not seek to restrict products from animals like milk, eggs, and other dairy products.

 

Read more: The Beginners Guide To The Flexitarian Diet

 

Sattvic Diet

The term ‘Sattvic’ is derived from the Sanskrit word Sattva; a concept from the Indian Yogic philosophy. This word represents true, ethical, energetic, clean, healthy, wise and vital characteristics. It also treats food just for what it is—fuel—not associating emotions of Raag (love) or Dhvesh (hatred) while we consume it. The food is consumed purely for the sake of the body to function. According to our ancient scriptures, the sattvic diet could increase your life expectancy. Moreover, a Sattvic diet includes foods that are sustainable for our environment. A Sattvic diet can support your yoga practice by helping you be more mindful of what you consume. The meaning also extends to instilling healthy eating habits; like eating in moderation, avoid overeating and managing your weight.

 

Processed, stale, overcooked and over-spiced foods are all considered—Tamasic (destructive). Unlike other popular notions, Sattvic food is not bland or tasteless. Sattvic foods are meant to consist of all the six flavours—sweet, salt, bitter, sour, pungent and astringent. Each meal is supposed to cater to all the vital, nutritious and refreshing flavors included in the Sattvic diet!

 

Read more: The Science Behind A Sattvic Diet

 

Naturopathic Diet

Charmaine D’Souza, Mumbai-based dietician and the author of The Good Health Always Cookbook, says, “our body has the innate ability to heal itself and naturopathy uses simple, natural remedies to enhance and hasten this healing process”. Naturopathy is an ancient form of alternative medicine that treats people—not merely the symptoms of a disease—by removing the primary cause of the ailment. Treatment methods include natural ingredients, acupuncture, massage therapy, exercise etc.

 

Charmaine D’Souza, Mumbai-based dietician and the author of The Good Health Always Cookbook, says, “our body has the innate ability to heal itself and naturopathy uses simple, natural remedies to enhance and hasten this healing process”. Naturopathy is an ancient form of alternative medicine that treats people—not merely the symptoms of a disease—by removing the primary cause of the ailment. Treatment methods include natural ingredients, acupuncture, massage therapy, exercise etc.

 

Read more: A Naturophatic Diet For Better Winter Immunity

 

Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet

A global shift to a plant-based diet is a win-win for both our health and the environment. A plant-based diet is more likely to reduce the risk of heart problems, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, gallstones and kidney disease, says a paper titled Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-based diets.

 

Eating foods directly produced by a plant is a plant-based diet. You avoid all the animal sources of foods such as dairy, meat, fish etc. There are several health benefits to a plant-based diet such as :

 

  • Higher energy levels
  • Improvement in lifestyle disorders such as diabetes, blood pressure, hypertension, cholesterol, and obesity.
  • Faster recovery for people into sports.
  • Sustainable weight management

 

Read more: The Joy of A Plant-Based Diet 

 

Whole 30 Diet

Whole30 diet says ‘yes’ to whole foods such as meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, natural fats, herbs and spices and ‘no’ to grains, dairy, honey, alcohol, baked goods—for a strict 30 days. The Whole30 plate looks colourful, fresh, and healthy with a mix of a variety of vegetables, seafood, healthy fats, squash, root veggies and fried eggs.

 

Some examples of Whole30 meal plans include soup with homemade meatballs, zucchini patties with a side salad and roasted chicken served with cranberries. The principle lies in eliminating certain foods and putting the body in a ‘reset’ mode to improve general health. Over the years, it has been adopted by the likes of Busy Phillips, Jessica Biel, Miley Cyrusm and Megan Fox.

 

What’s the take-home conclusion on Whole30? “The key lies in seeking balance. The ‘one size fits all’ approach should be avoided.” A more sustainable approach will be to change your diet according to your genetics, age, lifestyle, environment and health. Consulting a professional to understand how each individual reacts to certain food combinations is also important.

 

Read more: The Truth About Diets: The Whole30

 

Intuitive Eating

A no-frills approach to nutrition, intuitive eating is letting your intuition decide your meals—a step away from depending on restrictive, trendy diets. So is our inner voice really wiser than a well-structured dieting regimen? Experts say yes. “The way you engage with food is highly influenced by psychological and emotional factors. The minute you restrict or deprive your body of a certain food, you immediately want it even more.

 

Binge eating and eating without control are direct responses to deprivation and restriction. But when you give yourself unconditional permission to eat that food, the urgency to eat it goes away. The appeal of a bowl of khichdi then equals the appeal of a bowl of French fries. Your body wants to feel good, nourished, and energised and you can absolutely trust that little voice in your head, telling you to eat,” says Charmaine D’Souza, dietitian and the author of The Good Health Always Cookbook.

 

Read more: What it Means to Eat Intuitively

 

Juice Detoxes

In simple terms, juice detox is a process where you replace your solid meals and only drink juice and water for a certain amount of time. Now, this time period can last from a brief three days to anywhere around several weeks. A basic juice detox involves abstaining from eating almost anything solid, while encouraging a liquid diet of fruit and vegetable juices. Sometimes they also include herbs and supplements to aid the detoxification process.

 

“A juice detox is a chance to give your body and especially your digestive system a break. Having fruit and vegetable juice means the nutrients skip the tedious process of digestion and reach exactly where they need to be,” says Shweta Shah, celebrity nutritionist and the founder of EatFit24/7. “And even though they might not help you achieve all that’s written on the label—they are still making you eat all the vitamin rich fruits and vegetables that you would’ve otherwise traded in for a Big Mac,” she adds.

 

Read more: The Truth About Diets: Juice Detox

 

Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other whole grains. This is the ingredient that gives dough elasticity and sponginess. In a gluten-free diet, one has to give up on gluten foods including important cereals such as wheat, rye, and barley among others. Due to the risk of gluten contamination, the list also includes food with natural flavourings, sauces, soya sauce, vitamin and mineral supplements, wheat-based packaged food, beer, and even toothpaste.

 

The gluten-free diet is mainly prescribed for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, and NCGD (Non-celiac Gluten disorder) sensitivity to gluten products. People with these disorders are allergic to gluten. When people with celiac disease consume gluten-rich foods, their bodies mistake gluten to be an invader and respond with an allergic reaction. This results in damage to the villi in the small intestines, making it difficult to draw nutrients from food.

 

Read more: The Truth about Diets: Going Gluten-free

 

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a technique where you switch between phases of eating and not eating. The periods don’t have to last long enough for you to feel starved or exhausted but should stretch enough to ensure that your digestive system is resting. So in a way, it’s more of an eating pattern rather than a conventional dieting regimen.

 

“Sooner or later, everything old is new again: this technique gives your gut a fresh start, and it actually works because it provides a sense of balance to our diets and after all, life is about balance. The same applies to eating and fasting. They’re both two sides of the same coin, both equally important—like yin and yang,” says Shweta Shah, celebrity nutritionist and the founder of EatFit24/7.

 

There are plenty of intermittent fasting schedules out there and all of them depend on the philosophy of dividing the day or week into periods of eating and fasting.

 

  • The 5:2 diet: In her book, Lessons, supermodel Gisele Bundchen revealed that she follows the 5:2 version of intermittent fasting. And what does it entail? Eat normally for five days a week and restrict your calorie intake to 500 on Saturdays and 600 on Sundays.
  • Leangains protocol/ 16/8 method: It involves skipping breakfast and strictly restricting your eating period to eight hours and fasting for the remaining sixteen. For example, eat anything between 2 to 10 p.m and then abstain from eating till the clock turns 2 the next day.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: Quite literal in its meaning, this is a fairly simple procedure that requires you to fast for a whole day, once or twice a week. So eat for a few days, stop for one and then keep repeating it over and over again.

 

Read more: The Truth About Diets: Intermittent Fasting

 

Mediterranean Diet

Every year, the U.S News and World Report releases an annual list of Best Diets, decided upon by a panel of 27 experts in different fields from nutrition to food psychology, dietary consultation and heart disease. For the fifth year in a row, the Mediterranean diet ranks first amongst a total of 40 different kinds of diets, which includes popular modern methods of dieting like intermittent fasting, the paleo diet and the keto diet.

 

The Mediterranean diet is a non-restrictive eating pattern without rigid rules about calorie intake or exclusion of food groups, which means you can curate your own diet based on need and availability. Inspired by the cuisines and eating habits of the Mediterranean region (especially Greece, Turkey, Italy and Spain), the diet emphasises upon a plant-based eating approach, rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, olive oil and flavoursome herbs.Lean protein like fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, chicken and turkey, and dairy products are yoghurt and cheese should be eaten in moderation, while red meat and sugary or processed foods should be avoided in this diet. The Mediterranean diet is convenient, easy to follow, and has high levels of satiety because of the presence of healthy fats and fibre-rich foods.

 

Read more: Here’s Why This Diet was Voted the Best Diet of 2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER

© Copyright Lifetime Wellness Rx International Limited. All rights reserved throughout India. Reproduction in part or in whole is prohibited. Wellness suggestions and treatments discussed in this issue are only indicators of what makes one healthy or not. It may not be an accurate assessment of what’s specifically ideal for you. Consult with your doctor before undertaking any treatment.