The Mediterranean Diet
This diet is based on the traditional cuisine of the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. This diet is typically high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and healthy fats like nuts, seeds and olive oil. It encourages daily intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, as well as weekly consumption of fish, poultry, beans and eggs. Moderate consumption of dairy foods is allowed, as is the limited consumption of red meat.
We can’t forget the best part of the diet though, the allowance of red wine — in moderation, of course. Other important elements include regular activity and sharing meals with family and friends.
Luckily for Houstonians, dietitian Pam Fullenweider from the Clever Kitchen focuses on how to incorporate the Mediterranean Diet into your life, offering monthly cooking classes that teach how to use it best.
The DASH Diet
Originally created by the government, this diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Designed to help lower sodium intake and, ultimately, to lower high blood pressure, this diet focuses on the consumption of a variety of foods high in potassium, calcium and magnesium.
The goal is to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. This means you are eliminating many processed foods from your diet and replacing them with fresh, nonprocessed foods. The DASH Diet requires a focus on whole grains, fruits and vegetables with some fish, poultry and legumes. It also includes small portions of nuts and seeds, a contrast from the Mediterranean Diet, as well as red meat and sweets, since the focus is a diet low in saturated fats, trans fat and total fat.
The Flexitarian Diet
This is basically for those people who would like to go vegetarian or vegan but can’t fathom the idea of never eating meat again. The diet encourages a mostly plant-based diet, while allowing meat and other animal products in moderation — maybe a couple of times per month.
This is really more of a lifestyle than a “diet,” as there are no clear-cut rules or numbers to follow. Instead, there are guidelines, similar to the Mediterranean Diet. Eat mostly fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Focus on plant-based proteins. Eat fewer processed foods. Limit added sugar and sweets.
If you are looking to follow one of these diets, it is important to consider which one fits your lifestyle and will be sustainable long term.
U.S. News & World Report also rated the top diets specifically for weight loss: Weight Watchers was No 1. Volumetrics and Vegan tied for No. 2. However, while these diets do promote the most weight loss, they are not always the most sustainable or realistic. So take a good look into the foods you like, the lifestyle you live currently and what factors you are willing to change. Work with your health care providers to find the best diet for you — one the doesn’t feel like a “diet” but a lifestyle.