With so many diets out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused. After all, we see friends and social media influencers dropping pounds or adopting a “healthy lifestyle” — but are these diet fads really a good idea? You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers. SheKnows spoke with several nutritionists to get the level scoop on which diets are good for you and which really don’t work. Here’s what you need to know.
With an emphasis on cooking styles from countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, the Mediterranean Diet emphasizes eating plenty of healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and red wine, Toby Amidor, a registered dietician and nutrition partner with GOED tells SheKnows.
“Good fats like those from fish are beneficial and encouraged on the diet because of their high omega-3 content,” she explains. “Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA from fatty fish, are nutrients that play a key role in heart, brain and eye health throughout life. The American Heart Association has gone so far as to include at least two servings of fatty fish per week in their dietary recommendations.”
According to Amidor, the best way to stick with the Mediterranean Diet is by making it a lifestyle choice. “There is a wide-variety of foods, no elimination of foods or food groups, and exercise is encouraged,” she explains. Plus, it’s relatively easy to follow. “I purchase these Mediterranean foods every time I head to the supermarket: boneless chicken breasts, salmon, hummus, Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, fresh herbs and lots of fruits and vegetables.”
Like the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet focuses on vegetables, fruit and whole grains with lean proteins, and healthy fats from nuts and seeds, Kimberly Arnold, a registered dietitian nutritionist, tells SheKnows. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and is commonly prescribed to people with high blood pressure, but really, anyone can benefit from following its guidelines. It’s simply a healthy way to eat. In addition to including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, the DASH diet limits sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets, as well as foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel and palm oils.
Though not a diet in the traditional sense, there has been a recent trend towards what many call “intuitive eating.” According to Melissa Giovanni, a nutritionist at Balance Nutrition Counseling, this practice involves learning to listen to and honor your hunger and fullness cues, as well as what makes you feel good mentally and physically.