Op-Ed: The Ridiculousness of Carefully-Packaged, Rigid Diets

As much as we have complicated nutrition, it’s actually pretty simple: Follow these three simple rules for best results.

When it comes to nutrition, sometimes it feels like there’s nothing we can agree upon:

Should I eat meat?

Should I try a plant-based diet?

What about intermittent fasting?

Is intuitive eating the way forward?

On the other hand, most of our differences have become a bit like splitting hairs, because when you really think about it, we all (arguably) do agree on the three most important things:

1. Sugar: Whether you’re a believer in a Ketogenic diet, the Meidterranean diet, Paleo, or almost any other, we all agree refined sugar should be limited, or completely avoided.

2. Processed food: Again, there isn’t a school of thought (that I can find) that promotes processed foods. We can all agree whole foods in their pure form are best, and that processed foods should be limited or completely avoided.

3. Quantity: If you eat too many calories, you’ll likely gain weight. Again, I can’t find a single diet that says overeating doesn’t come with consequences to your body composition.

In light of the above, it seems like we should all have an easier time getting along, yet there are hundreds of different diets out there trying to convince you their way is the best way.

Let’s take a look:

Mediterranean Diet

Someone who eats fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil, nuts, some dairy products, legumes and other meat in moderation. The Mediterranean diet was invented in the United States in the 1980s and seeks to follow the eating habits of those from Italy and Greece in the 1960s.

Alternative definition: Someone who avoids processed food and sugar.

Various popular diets examined

 

Paleo

Someone who eats only eats vegetables, meat, fish, fruits, nuts and seeds.

Alternative definition: Someone who avoids processed foods and sugar.

The DASH diet

Someone who focuses on eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy, and lean meats. DASH stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension (aka high blood pressure and heart disease). 

Alternative Definition: Someone who avoids processed foods and sugar.

The Anti-inflammatory diet

This is more loosely defined, but the idea is to limit inflammation by focusing on vegetables, fruits (especially berries), nuts, seeds, and lean meat. Practitioners also avoid foods that are generally believed to increase inflammation such as, would you look at that, refined sugar and processed food. 

Alternative Definition: Someone who avoids processed foods and sugar.

The Nordic Diet

Someone who eats whole grains, such as barley, rye and oats, lots of berries and vegetables, fatty fish, some legume,s and avoids sweets and too much red meat. This diet focuses on the way people traditionally eat in Nordic countries — Denmark, Finland Norway and Sweden.

Alternative Definition: Someone who avoids processed foods and sugar.

Whole 30

A diet that’s usually followed for 30 days at a time, it means focusing on eating whole foods and eliminating sugar, alcohol, and processed foods, as well as grains, legumes, soy and dairy. (It’s not dissimilar to Paleo in that regard.) 

Alternative Definition: Someone who avoids processed foods and sugar.

The Takeaway

Avoid processed foods and sugar. Oh, and probably avoid midnight snacks and overeating on the regular. Simple as that.

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Emily Beers

Emily Beers

Emily Beers is a freelance health, fitness and nutrition writer. She has also been coaching fitness at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. since 2009. A former college basketball player and rower, Emily became heavily involved in CrossFit after finishing her Masters degree in journalism at the University of Western Ontario. She competed at the 2014 CrossFit Games and also worked with CrossFit Inc.’s media team for 8 years. You can also find her work at Precision Nutrition, the Whole Life Challenge, OPEX, and a host of other fitness and nutrition companies and media outlets.

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