Making Sense of Healthy Eating Advice
There many different diets and food trends being touted as the best for optimal health and it is hard to keep it all straight. Every week it seems that a new book is released by some expert that contradicts what you thought you already knew. In more mainstream conversation you might hear about the Atkins diet or the South Beach Diet and begin to think that diets high in protein and low in carbohydrates is the best way to go. In alternative health circles you might hear about the benefits of vegetarian or vegan diets, whole foods diets, or raw foods diets. So which one, if any, is for you? Are these diets also healthy for the whole family, including kids?
In truth there is something beneficial to all of these diets in some way. The good results had by many shows that these particular diets addressed some dietary deficiency they had. This does not mean you will get the same results they did but by taking a look all the various healthy diets and eating advice out there you may start to piece together a plan that works for you. You should take a look at all them and see what makes sense and what would best fit your lifestyle and health goals. Whenever you are trying any new eating pan or diet it is incredibly important to listen to what your body is telling you. Keep a journal and evaluate how you feel, how your skin and fingernails look, weight losses, digestive issues you may have, and daily energy levels.
Vegetarian, Vegan, and Raw Food Diets
Vegetarians follow a rather strict diet eat a diet based upon plant foods (vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains). They eat no animal flesh or meat but they may eat small quantities of animal byproducts such as eggs, dairy, or honey. Lacto-ovo vegetarians for instance will eat a veggie based diet along with diary and eggs. Lacto vegetarians that will eat dairy but they will not eat eggs. They have many political and personal reasons for eating this way but health is no small part of it.
Vegans follow a much stricter plant based diet. They eat no animal products at all. Proponents of both of these eating styles often believe that plant based foods help them defend against disease and illness. Meat products may harbor bacteria and parasites that can harm the body. Vegetarian and vegans diets are low in fat, high in fiber, and very nutrient dense. Their diet is a far cry from the high fat, high sugar, junk food diets so widespread today.
The raw foods diet generally includes vegetarian/vegan foods but goes a step beyond and also eliminates cooked and processed foods. Raw diet devotees believe that raw, living foods still have life giving enzymes that are almost always destroyed during processing and cooking. They believe that living bodies need living foods for optimum health and that cooked foods are essentially dead foods.
A Whole Foods Diet
The whole foods diet is also called a Macrobiotic diet, which means long life in Greek. This regime is based upon eating grains as the main source of dietary nutrition and supplementing with other healthy foods such as vegetables, beans, fermented soy, nuts, seaweed, fish, and fruits. This way of eating strongly discourages eating refined sugars and processed foods. In fact the whole idea is to eat unprocessed or “whole” foods. These are foods that have not been tampered with or altered in ways that may have adversely affected their health benefits. Whole foods fans strive to eat the freshest foods they can because fresh food is at its nutritional peak. It is for this reason they also prefer to eat local and seasonal foods that are grown close to their homes.
A good balanced diet may follow one of these ideals to the letter or it may be blend of several different theories. All of them are better than the Standard American Diet (SAD) of junk food and overly processed foods. With a little experimentation you may just find an eating plan that works for your whole family.