The new effective diet is not even a diet! According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, diets are out – and dietary patterns are in 1 . That’s great news for people who like to integrate the report’s nutrition recommendation into their personal eating habits when it comes out every 5 years.
Though, this time – the government advises we abandon diets which shun or glorify single foods and nutrients (such as fiber, fat, eggs, and butter – past years’ goals) and shift our attention to whole eating patterns, or the sum total of how often, what and how much we eat, along with what we eat it with.2
So, the question is why the move away from “bad food/good food “diets? Well, for one –nutrition science is constantly developing and we are learning from our slip ups.
Back in the 1980s, for example, the guiding principles told us to cut back on “bad fats” in order to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease – the #1 cause of death for people in the U.S 3 . But individuals who followed that guideline filled the void on their plates with some simple carbs, such as fat-free cookies, bagels, and pasta. Soon enough, we learned those foods were not any better for the heart (or waistline) than the high-fat fare they substituted.
Therefore, we tried again in 2000. The guiding principles issued that year exchanged fats – as long as they were “good fats.” This reference was based on newer study associating populations that regularly ate almonds, avocados, and olive oil with a lower incidence of heart disease. 4
So, we started following that recommendation, and add sliced avocado to our burgers, dip our bread in olive oil, and make almonds to-go snack. Then again, the only stuff that has enhanced is sales of those foods.
Our pursuit of the ideal fat (and food) to fight cardiovascular disease has kept us from seeing everything else which contributes to its lower rates in individuals with different dietary patterns.
Today, after spending about 20 years rationing just 3 eggs into our weekly set menu, we have been told cholesterol is not as bad for us as we thought.
So, does that mean it is time to order some sausages and pork to celebrate? Well, not so fast.
What this means is exactly what the recent Dietary Guidelines concluded: The whole is better than the sum of its parts when it comes to diet. It means that when you eat foods together, their benefits are bigger than a single food can produce on its own 5 . For instance, consuming eggs every day could lower the risk of heart disease if you are also consuming lots of vegetables, fruits, fish, seeds, nuts, beans, olive oil, and whole grains.
Conversely, eating eggs each day together with regular servings of refined grains, excess sodium from highly-processed foods, and fatty meats could increase that risk. That is because the connection to cardiovascular disease is not simply about the eggs – it is also about everything else we eat with them.
Another benefit of adopting a well-balanced dietary pattern is that the effects are cumulative, as compounded interest. As a result, individuals who have been following a Mediterranean-style pattern all the time, for example, get an instant return on an asset by meeting their dietary requirements early in life to support the development and optimal growth.
Well ahead, they receive a long-term bonus by preventing, or greatly decreasing, their risk of suffering from the non-communicable illnesses of adulthood, such as osteoporosis, arthritis, ubiquitous heart disease, and the macular degeneration. Nonetheless, this payoff needs making constant contributions to your healthy eating plan.
Choosing a healthy eating pattern instead of diet also leaves room for the special holiday food exclusion. (Sorry, but weekends do not count as “special.”) That method is different from the can’t-eat-can-eat diet style, in which we are open to every loophole which may give us a free pass. That point is that food choices may change with the seasons, however, a dietary pattern remains the same.
Still not convinced? If so, the highly-regarded DASH and Mediterranean plans are a perfect place to begin. Those patterns offer the finest of what is known about the food-health association when put together right, hence, you won’t need to upgrade to something new in another 5 years.
Plus, you won’t have to worry about getting captivated in the next fad diet which promises to solve all your weight and health issues because history has proven us they do not work in the long term. Think high-protein, low glycemic index, gluten-free, antioxidant-rich, low-carb, probiotic and paleo diets, just to name a few. It is time to move to something more maintainable.
You can begin transitioning to a better pattern by following some of these tips. The aim is to make the right choice a custom so it turns into your default option.
- Consume at least 1 piece of whole fruit a day.
- Be more inclusive of vegetables and fruits by including fresh, dried, canned, and frozen varieties in your repertoire.
- Order “whole wheat” as a bread choice for pizza crust, toast, and sandwiches.
- Use seeds or nuts instead of croutons on a salad.
- Choose fish over poultry or meat for an entrée at least once weekly.
- Add a layer of grilled or fresh vegetables to each sandwich.
- Drink 1 full glass of water with every meal.
- Make chili with less (or no) meat or more beans.
- Eat some brown rice with all Chinese takeout.
- Use Greek yogurt rather than sour cream in baking and cooking.
- Include vegetables every time you grill.
- Make your meat servings no bigger than the palm of your hand.
- Keep slices vegetables, salsa, and hummus on hand as your go-to snack.
- Choose vegetable to top pizza, stretch a soup or stuff a potato, and fill an omelet.
The sum total of how much, how often and what you eat – as well as what you eat it with – is more significant than any ingredient. The new effective diet is not actually a standard diet – is a combination of healthy eating habits from various diets. Today, you have the opportunity to search online and read about healthy diets, consult your GP or registered dietitian, in order to choose the right diet for you and your health condition. As a nutritionist, I always recommend a well-balanced diet that includes organic food choices, as an ideal eating way that is good for your overall health.