There’s so much hype in the media and online about the best diets for health and weight loss that it can be tough to cut through the noise and learn about the benefits and drawbacks of all your options. Here’s the low-down on four of the most popular diet trends: veganism, raw foodism, gluten-free, and paleo.
Veganism is less a diet trend and more a lifestyle choice. Vegans only eat foods that do not contain animal products. A vegan diet includes fruits, vegetables, and legumes and excludes meat, eggs, milk, honey, cheese, lard, whey, and gelatin. Some vegans also avoid personal care products that were tested on animals.
Vegans avoid the inhumane practices inherent in our food system, specifically the raising and slaughter of animals for food. Eating vegan can reduce the impact you have on the planet and improve your nutrition, as you’ll be laying off the hotdogs and other processed foods.
Some people find the limited vegan diet too restrictive. Carnivores and dairy lovers may find it difficult to stick to veganism (although vegetarianism may be an option for people who can give up meat but not dairy).
Some vegans take their diets a step further and become raw foodists. People who eat raw only eat food that is never heated beyond 115 degrees. Some folks choose to eat raw milk, fish, and other select raw animal products. But most of what you eat on a raw food diet are plants.
A raw food diet may cause weight loss and reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease because little or no animal products are consumed. All the fiber will make you feel full.
However, a raw food diet can be difficult to follow and is very restrictive. It can take a lot of time to prep your food, and eating out is extremely difficult, if not impossible, with all the rules.
“Gluten-Free” is a hot trend in the food industry. Someone on a gluten-free diet avoids food containing gluten, such as wheat, barley, and rye. Breads, pastas, and many processed foods are off-limits for gluten-free devotees. But going gluten-free isn’t just a trend for people with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. For these folks, avoiding gluten reduces or eliminates painful, uncomfortable symptoms.
A gluten-free diet is extremely helpful for Celiacs and those with gluten sensitivities. But there is little evidence going gluten-free directly benefits people without these conditions. But, going gluten-free eliminates a lot of processed foods and carbs from your diet, which could help you maintain or lose weight.
Going gluten-free can be frustrating, especially at first, as many foods contain gluten. It can be difficult to find gluten-free options at restaurants, though that’s starting to change as food companies react to the gluten-free trend.
Our Neolithic ancestors didn’t eat grains, and we shouldn’t either, according to people who adopt the paleo diet. They argue the human body is not designed for eating grains, so the key to good health is to eat a hunter/gather diet high in protein, fruits, and vegetables and low in carbs. When you go paleo, you don’t need to watch portions or count calories.
Eating paleo cuts out processed foods, so your diet will be mostly clean foods free from preservatives, additives, and other chemicals. The high protein and fiber content means you’ll feel fuller longer, and most people lose weight because they are eating fewer carbs and generally choosing from a limited menu.
However, eating paleo can be expensive, especially when you opt for organic grass-fed beef and other sustainably grown meats. The lack of carbohydrates may result in nutritional deficiencies for some.
There you have it, the basics of veganism, raw foodism, gluten-free, and paleo. Navigating the world of diet trends can be difficult. To start eating and living more sustainably, contact me today!
Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!
Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance & Get Green with Gene