Whole Foods Diet Plan: Alternative Lifestyles

Ugh. There it is again. We hear the word “diet” and instantly our mind goes to smelly cabbage soup, cardboard tasting SnackWells and carrot sticks next to an empty bowl where the dip should go. No, thank you!

But the actual definition of the word diet is simply the foods we eat to receive the nutrition we need for our bodies to function.

It seems like a straightforward, simple definition, right? And now that we have it right in front of us, we can all agree that we DID know that, technically speaking.

But let’s play a game. Let’s add one word and see if our togetherness train can stay on the rails.

Just One Word

Healthy diet.

What did you just think about when you read that? Was it a crunchy green salad? A juicy steak with a steaming side of garlic green beans? Blackened Tilapia with avocado salsa? Or was it Tofu Pad Thai? Well, that consensus didn’t last long, did it?

Throughout history and around the world, there is and has always been a vast array of opinions on what is considered a healthy diet.

A lot of it has to do with what foods are readily available and the energy requirements necessary for different lifestyles. But some are put together based on the beliefs of a person or group of people and nowhere is this more prevalent that in the United States.

I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the more prominent dietary lifestyles that fit into the category of a whole foods diet. I’ve included links in case you would like a more in depth look at any particular lifestyle.

All Aboard For The Magical Mystery Tour!

Mediterranean Diet

This diet encourages lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices while limiting red meats, sweets and dairy products.

Although research shows that the Mediterranean diet is effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, without a guide to portion sizes the risk of over consumption of calories may undo any good benefits.

It does encourage red wine, though, so it’s OK in my book!

Vegetarian/Vegan Diet

Proponents of this lifestyle forgo, in varying degrees, consumption of meat and animal products.

A well planned meatless diet can reduce the chance of obesity and heart disease while lowering the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that there are plenty of unhealthy options, such as non-dairy ice cream and meat substitutes, which are highly processed and loaded with chemicals, sugar, sodium and saturated fat.

It’s also important to learn how to combine certain foods and/or supplements to ensure that proper nutrition is being achieved.

Paleo Diet

Followers of this plan believe that we can improve our health by eating as our ancestors ate during the Paleolithic era more than 2 million years ago.

Because the cavemen did not have the tools necessary to cultivate crops or process foods (such as grains), the diet focuses on meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some oils and fish while excluding grains, dairy products, sugar, alcohol and any processed foods.

The benefits of this eating plan would certainly include the clean, whole foods approach to meals, as well as the anti-inflammatory advantages of the plant nutrients in vegetables, oils, nuts, and seeds.

On the downside, the increased consumption of fat in meat can cause a plethora of problems, the lack of dairy raises concerns about calcium deficiency and the lack of carbs can lead to low energy levels.

Overall, the very restrictive nature of the diet makes it difficult to follow.

Macrobiotic Diet

Macrobioticism is based on the Zen Buddhism theory of balancing Yin and Yang by focusing on a diet of whole grains, certain vegetables, seaweed, fish, nuts, seeds and legumes served on wood or glass service wear.

The practice of eating whole grains with the elimination of processed sugar can be helpful for those with diabetes while the elimination of animal fat may be beneficial for people dealing with heart disease and high cholesterol.

Much like a vegetarian/vegan diet, care must be taken to ensure that healthy nutritional guidelines are met.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Alkaline Diet

The alkaline diet is based on the idea that replacing acid-forming foods with alkaline foods can improve your health, the theory being that a more alkaline Ph level protects you from illness and disease.

The diet encourages fruits, nuts, legumes, and vegetables, while reducing meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, grains and alcohol.

While the idea of being able to control the Ph levels in one’s blood seems to have been firmly debunked by science, a diet high in plant based foods and low in unhealthy fats, cholesterol, sugars and alcohol is a solid foundation in the quest to stay healthy.

Raw Food Diet

As you may have guessed, proponents of this diet advocate a meal plan of uncooked food. It is their belief that cooking food destroys nutrients and, in some cases, even cause an increased risk of cancer and age related diseases.

While some consume raw meat, eggs and dairy products, most rely on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes.

While this plant based diet may be good for a short term, long term use of the diet is not recommended by most medical professionals as studies show that it’s difficult to consume enough calories to maintain a healthy weight.

There is an increased risk of food borne illness and, while no whole foods are “banned”, many foods are unpalatable or hard to digest when they’re raw. This greatly reduces food choices, making it difficult to maintain in the long term.

But Wait! There’s More!

Egg and Wine Diet

This one was popularized by Helen Gurley Brown in her 1962 book Sex and The Single Girl.

It’s fairly straight forward: The daily food intake consists of 3-5 eggs, one steak and an entire bottle of wine, which you start drinking at breakfast. It would seem that this makes a gal more attractive and appealing to men.

I’m oddly intrigued.

So Many Choices, So Little Time

This is by no means a complete list nor a comprehensive study of different diet plans. I just wanted to show that “whole foods” doesn’t mean any one thing!

It’s a whole wide world of choices! I’m not endorsing or condemning any of them, I’m just suggesting that when things begin to get a bit, well, stale, you can branch out.

Take the road less traveled. You could try a vegetarian recipe  one evening or take a week to live like a caveman.

You never know. You just might like it.

Have you tried any of these diets? Would you consider it? Leave a comment below to let us know what you think!

(And, OK. I’m NOT endorsing the Egg and Wine diet. *sigh*)

All my best,

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

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14 Replies to “Whole Foods Diet Plan: Alternative Lifestyles”

  1. Very cool article! Thank you for breaking down some of the more popular diets we see advertised/promoted these days. It all can be a bit overwhelming at first with so much information being readily available. I personally haven’t tried any of these diets, but I’d be interested to see what consuming more plant-based protein would be like. I could never cut meat out completely, but am curious to see differences between plant-based and animal-based protein. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!

    1. I have a sister-in-law who is vegetarian and a fabulous cook. You should definitely give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised, it’s just like real food! 😉 I wouldn’t ever cut out meat altogether either, but it is nice to take a break every once in a while

  2. Thanks for sharing your article. Those diets all sound extremely healthy, especially the egg diet LOL All jokes aside, I like to mix and match all those foods and thus create my own healthy diet. I agree that it’s important to eat healthy and try to avoid junk food. Thanks again.

  3. Hey Cynthia,
    I enjoy reading your post filled with useful information.
    I already tried the vegan diet during a 2 weeks period, but I gave up and I continued with my routine.
    After reading your post, I am motivated.
    Considering the benefits it offers to my health, I’m going to try a second time and try to be more persevering.
    Thank you for sharing these diet plans with us.

  4. I like the point you made in this article. That instead of keeping to one diet, why not try each for a short period? This way, we are more likely to stick to the diet or a diet.

    I do like the sound of the Mediterranean diet. Only because, just like you, I like the thought of red wine in a diet. hahaha

    Speaking of which, the Egg and Wine diet amused me. I once read a book by humorist, Erma Bombeck, where she wrote about diets, too. And she mentioned a list. The last was a wine diet which she said that a friend of hers tried. She added that her friend did not lose any weight, but she did not seem to care. hahaha

    1. I’m a huge Erma Bombeck fan but I don’t remember that particular joke. Since her writings were popular around the same time as the diet was being promoted, I think we can assume that’s the wine diet she’s talking about! Thanks for bring a smile to my face this morning! Andem to since I remember that you’re on the other side of the world, good night and sleep well.

  5. Hi Cynthia. I enjoyed your whistle stop tour of a variety of ‘healthy diets’ . I like that you offer the information without being judgemental. I am trying to reduce the amount of meat (especially red) I consume, and largely aspire to mimic the mediterranean diet, but information on the paleo and microbiotic diets, for example, is interesting and worth looking at some elements.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyd it, John. I am not here to judge but to simply give information and encouragement to anyone who aspires to have a healthier diet. Some people are able to jump into a new healthy eating plan and be fully successful (or maybe they’ve always eaten that way). Others may be able, for whatever reason, to just take a step or two. We all have our journeys and they’re all unique.

  6. Hi Cynthia,

    Thank you very much for the very interesting and witty article that was also very informative. It really is difficult to ascertain just who to trust ‘physician heal thyself’ and the multiple advice on which culinary delights or not so culinary as the case may be. I have come to the conclusion that a sensible variety of all of them in moderation should be the perceived wisdom. Thank you again for your very enjoyable article.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Rami. You’re correct…everyone says something different and insists that their way is the best. I, like you, simply try to pick a balanced diet which certainly can include aspects (or recipes) from each of the different diets I listed.

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