Many dietary plans for reference today, are centralized on how to lose weight, rather than experience optimal health. Additionally, there is also much debate as to which nutritional lifestyle is "optimal" for health. The most recognized nutritional plans, promoted for optimal health include but are not limited to:
- Paleo - Grass-fed meats, sustainable fish/seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts and seeds, oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)(2).
- Vegetarian - Plant-based foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables that can be raw or cooked, legumes, including beans, peas and lentils; whole-grains, nuts and seeds. *Lacto-Vegetarian includes dairy products and Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian includes both dairy products and eggs(3).
- Vegan - Similar to vegetarian diet; however, a vegan diet excludes all animal-based products.
- Raw Vegan - Similar to vegetarian and vegan diet; however, excludes grains and legumes and does not eat foods that have been cooked past 115 degrees F, coining the "raw" vegan diet.
- Mediterranean - emphasizes, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, legumes, nuts and seeds; use of olive oil instead of butter; herbs and spices instead of salt; limit red meat consumption to a few times a month; fish and poultry a few times a week; red wine in moderation(4).
- Weston A. Price Foundation Diet - focuses on whole foods, naturally-raised/pastured animal meats and organs, bone-broth, naturally-raised/pastured dairy, traditional fats and oils like butter and olive oil, fresh organic fruits and vegetables, sprouted whole grains and nuts/seeds, fermented vegetables, fruits, raw sauerkraut, kombucha, filtered water, unrefined salts, herbs and spices, homemade salad dressings, moderate natural sweeteners(5).
- Leafy green vegetables (foliage vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, beet and carrot top greens, dandelion greens) - Check out my post, "Love Is A Choice...How To Fall In Love With Greens!" You will learn some great tips on how to incorporate them into your diet.
- General vegetables - non-starchy vegetables like eggplant, bell-peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, etc.
- Fruits - most dietary models recommend fresh first, frozen second, dried third, canned fourth.
- Nuts and seeds (Unless you are allergic, which could point to other health concerns, of which you may be following an anti-allergy diet).
My proposed solution for you:
First, be kind to yourself! Health is a journey. Think of each day as an opportunity to take your health to the next level. Whether you already follow a specific dietary model because it works for you or whether you are on the fence about which one to follow, you do not have to resort to an "all or nothing" strategy. Commitment and loyalty are extremely valuable; however, I also do not recommend you hold yourself hostage to a dietary lifestyle you are not certain about, that is extremely challenging for you to adhere to, or that builds in an egotistical or defeatist attitude. Remember at its root, nutrition is meant to help you thrive. If you aren't thriving, re-evaluate your approach.
I gravitate toward a simple principal: nutrients over calories. I ask myself "does my meal, snack, or beverage offer more nutrients than calories?" In other words, is my nutritional load greater than my caloric load? That is my aim. I certainly do not always achieve that; however, it simplifies my nutritional valuation of my meals. If I recommend you to do one thing, it is to learn where nutrients come from. The more you know, the more space you have to create a better version of yourself.
All across the world, populations of people experience a variety of health outcomes and longevity with respect to different nutritional lifestyles. There is much research to be done regarding nutrition, health, and bioindividuality. Try not to get caught in the cross-fire too much. It is healthy to question, to research, to invent; however, if you are not enjoying the process while doing so, is it worth it? If you would like to begin reviewing various dietary models in greater depth, I invite you to check out the Nutrition section of Attainable Health. There, I provide a closer look.
Share with me in the comments below! Did you enjoy this post? Please like it and share! What dietary model works for you? Which would you like to try?