With all the diet or eating regimens out there, it was only a matter of time before serious foodies started proselytizing about which diet regimen works best for them. And that touting has come to bear on the restaurant community as well as health food and grocery store ordering and stocking in a big way.
This year, for the eighth year in a row, US. News & World Report convened a panel of experts to choose the Best Overall Diet category. U.S. News is the uncontested global authority in rankings and consumer advice, and its assessment of the year’s Best Diets “offered in addition to rankings, extensive data and information on 40 diet plans across nine categories to help the estimated 45 million Americans who diet each year – and millions more globally – achieve healthier lifestyles.”
No surprise to some of us that the Mediterranean Diet won Best Overall. Olive oil, fish, whole grains, chicken, lots of veggies, a little dairy, beans and nuts has sustained the people living near and surrounding the Mediterranean Sea for eons.
In the Midwest, there are large Syrian and Lebanese communities that patronize the many Lebanese and Eastern European eateries that have sprung up since the 1970s. Chicken Schawarma, hummus and pita bread have become staple appetizers in many a Kansas and Missouri restaurant. Easy to follow, tasty and good for you—that’s the Mediterranean way and the reason the diet has become so popular, especially among aging populations who prefer it for its cardiovascular and brain health attributes.
The DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) Diet tied for top spot with the Mediterranean Diet. From dashdiet.org, “The first DASH diet research showed that it could lower blood pressure as well as first-line blood pressure medications, even with a sodium intake of 3300 mg/day! Since then, numerous studies have shown that the DASH diet reduces the risk of many diseases, including some kinds of cancer, stroke, heart disease, heart failure, kidney stones and diabetes.”
DASH meals are replete with filling foods such as fruits and vegetables, meat and plant-based proteins and heart-healthy fats aimed at stemming hunger and reducing belly fat. The pyramid looks something like this: Whole grain foods at the top, followed by fruits and veggies (four to six servings of each a day); two servings of low-fat dairy; meat, poultry and fish (1.5-2.5 servings a day); nuts, seeds and limited sweets.
Two more top contenders were Weight Watchers and the Flexitarian Diet plans.
Weight Watchers assigns different foods a SmartPoints value, which replaces its long-standing PointsPlus plan. The concept is the same, though. Nutritious foods that fill you up have fewer points than junk foods with empty calories. You’re in charge of making your plan, doing the math and following through. You save back points for a glass of wine or a piece of cake when you want to celebrate.
From rodalewellness.com, we learn “nutritionists like Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, believe a Flexitarian diet is about striking the ideal balance: Namely, making plant foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes) the mainstay of our meals, while still eating animal protein—just less of it. Not going completely vegetarian means you still get beneficial nutrients in red meat and poultry (iron, zinc, protein, B vitamins) and fish (omega-3 fatty acids). But by eating less of them, you take in less of the unhealthy stuff, like saturated fat and cholesterol.”
At GreenAcres, many of our customers are gluten free, follow a Paleo Diet, are vegetarian, vegan or just regular, traditional eaters.
We’ll explore more diets in the weeks to come. But from my Irish Grandmother who was never overweight, but who did have diabetes, “Just half of that, please.” She believed in eating all things good for you, but regulating portions to just half of the typical American meal.