What Diet are You On?

What Diet are You On?

What diet are you on? Are you going Paleo? What about Mediterranean? Have you tried Atkins?

People, now more than ever, are defined by the type of diet they follow. It's frustrating because these definitions create competition and controversy. What makes a vegan diet superior to the Mediterranean diet? Who's to say the DASH diet is the way to go?

Sorry to burst the bubble of any hardcore radical dieters out there, but each diet is a good one, as long as it's not outlandish and it fits with your particular lifestyle and needs. Don't get hung up on conflicting advice you hear around the water cooler, pause and take a look and the diet breakdowns below and make a more informed decision.

According to Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, the Three Levels of Diet are the simplified categories a particular diet falls into. From this, we can gain further understanding about a particular nutritional approach, its intended purpose and how to manage any conflict or frustration that often arises when a diet fails to meet our expectations.

Therapeutic Approach

Let food be thy medicine! When an ailment arises, we can choose to provide our bodies with natural healing foods instead of synthetic medications. For those who are trying to cure, treat, or manage a health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation, difficulty swallowing, wound healing, etc., a therapeutic approach may be an option.

These diets often lose effectiveness once healing has occurred and it may not be appropriate to continue following them. For example, if your blood sugar readings fall into a normal range following a low glycemic diet, then it may not be necessary to continue, just like it wouldn’t make sense to keep taking painkillers once a headache has ceased!

When a therapeutic diet has done its magic, consider transitioning to a maintenance diet. Keep in mind, some therapeutic diets are for ailments that may be incurable (i.e. Celiac disease, liver failure, kidney disease) and should be followed for the rest of one’s life.

Examples of a Therapeutic Diet:

  • DASH diet for hypertension
  • TLC diet for heart health
  • Tube feedings
  • Renal diets
  • Celiac gluten-free diet
  • Texture-modified diet for swallowing/chewing difficulties
  • Candida diet

Maintenance Approach

A maintenance diet one that can sustain us for long periods of time. This doesn’t mean that it won’t change at some point – for example, it could change as you age and your body changes, if your financial situation changes, if you increase the intensity or duration of your workout regimen, or if you move to a new state or country where certain food items are no longer available.

The main goal of this diet is to nourish us for the long haul without any harmful effects. One trick to a maintenance diet is to periodically check in to see if foods that have become staples in your diet are still appropriate and do not cause any other issues, such as digestive discomfort, blood sugar imbalances, allergic reactions or other sensitivities. If something like this were to arise, then an experimental diet or possibly even a therapeutic diet may be the next step.

Examples of a Maintenance Diet:

  • Mediterranean diet
  • USDA MyPlate diet
  • Various cultural diets
  • A sensible balanced diet

Experimental Approach

I love to experiment with my diet to see how it affects my body, mood, energy and health. That’s actually how I became vegan; I experimented and I liked the way I felt, so I decided to stick with it.

Think of yourself as a scientist, doing nutritional research with your body. Have you ever wondered if going gluten-free would improve your digestion? Or, if you'd lose weight by replacing one or two meals a day with a NutriBlast? Have you ever tried a week-long cleanse? What starts as an experiment may stick and become a maintenance plan. Most juice cleanses and other unsustainable, restrictive diets just come and go, but doing something that isn't difficult to maintain and that actually makes you feel good can be worth maintaining. A side note: if a diet sounds way too good to be true, it probably is! It may harm you or your health, so don't try it!

The reason I appreciate this category the most is that it helps me justify the insanity on the Internet from various "experts" touting their dietary approach as the miracle we’ve all been waiting for. It solidifies the evidence that we are all created differently and reiterates the saying, “One man’s food is another man’s poison.”

Examples of an Experimental Diet:

  • Vegan
  • Paleo
  • Cleanses
  • Raw foods
  • Atkins diet
  • Gluten-free (without Celiac)
  • Low calorie diets

Take a look at your diet. Where would it fall? Is this the best nutritional plan for you?

Food should be fun! Explore and open up your taste buds. Then, listen to your body; see what works and what doesn't. Then, outline your plan and thrive in your body!

Share below what category you fit into and give us your thoughts: is this a useful tool? It’s been eye-opening for me!

Registered Dietitian

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