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Recently, U.S. News put together a list of the 29 most popular diet crazes, created a detailed profile for each one, and ranked them according to safety and nutrition. With help from scientific evidence and corresponding lists of typical meals, the U.S. News panel of nutrition experts assessed each of the 29 diets in seven categories and then gave them a “healthiness” score from 5 (the best) to 1 (the worst).
Unsurprisingly, the Best Diets for Healthy Eating and Best Diets Overall rankings overlap significantly. Both give especially high marks to DASH, TLC, Mediterranean, Mayo Clinic, and Volumetrics.
“The ones that get high scores in safety and in nutritional value—they’re very similar to each other,” says Andrea Giancoli, a registered dietitian who serves on U.S. News’s expert panel.
According to health.usnews.com, “The only plans to receive healthiness scores below 3 were the Paleo, Raw Food, Macrobiotic, Dukan, and Atkins diets. They’re simply too restrictive, say our experts, which calls their nutritional qualities into question. The meat-heavy Paleo diet bans grains and dairy, so getting adequate calcium and vitamin D isn’t easy. Atkins, by severely curbing carbs, blows past recommended caps for total and saturated fat. Depending on your personal approach to the Raw Food Diet, you may shortchange yourself on calcium, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D; its restrictive cooking rules also could put you at risk for eating raw or undercooked ingredients.”
This all brings up an interesting, if not obvious, quandary. Why claim any “diet” at all? Unless you’re cherry-picking the most helpful aspects from everything that’s out there, the main motivation behind identifying yourself with an authored diet is sociocultural—not physiological. Plus, it may actually be healthier to casually use moderation and simply enjoy your life in the long run. Consider the quote below.
“People are so desperate to lose weight that it’s really weight loss at any cost,” says Madelyn Fernstrom, founding director of the UPMC University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center and author of The Real You Diet. And, when that desperate determination takes hold, says Fernstrom, “normal thinking goes out the window.”
This nutritional insanity, if you will, is certainly understandable with modern society’s aesthetic value system and twisted notions of body image. But, the bottom line is that this particular mode of bettering yourself can easily turn into a series of unsafe decisions. Below, we’ve included a general, informal list of the most common mistakes.
People put too much stress on counting calories and not enough on nutrient density. In addition, many folks just up and forget about an exercise regimen while fervently trying to follow the restrictive guidelines of a fad diet like a second religion, but being active regularly is just as vital as nutritional intake for physical and emotional well-being. And finally, supplements are meant to be supplementary. In other words, they should only be employed if you know you are genetically predisposed to certain vitamin or mineral deficiencies and absolutely cannot get those nutrients from your chosen diet plan.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.