Let’s start 2020 off on the right foot: instead of getting lost in diet culture and all the different things the media is telling us, let’s find peace with food. Too good to be true? It’s not, promise! If you’re into health and wellness (and since you’re here, I can bet that you are!) you’re probably pretty familiar with the whiplash that comes with trying to keep up with the latest nutrition trends. Fat is bad. Fat is good. Get more protein. You eat too much protein. You eat too much of the wrong protein. DO NOT EAT THE BANANA. Have a freakin’ banana. Grains, legumes, soy!? Coffee’s great, but it’s the worst. Holy guacamole. It’s a lot. Even for the experts. But (and maybe I’m forever the optimist) it’s also super exciting. This is the first time that nutrition has gotten such a focus. The field is new, but it seems like everyday more and more studies are coming out. And bit by bit they paint a picture. And while we go back and forth on a lot of it (like is fruit really that bad for blood sugar, and should we avoid gluten if we feel totally fine?), there are definitely commonalities that we’re starting to put together. So today, we’re going to unpack three of the most popular diets, and why they might be more similar than you think! Read on, health nut, read on.
Once described as the Caveman Diet, now Paleo is an entire lifestyle focused around eating and moving the way (we believe) nature intended. Despite media claims that it’s all meat, Paleo is a whole-foods, plant-heavy diet. The diet is made up primarily of vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, and high-quality meat and seafood.
Lots of vegetables (and we mean lots!) –including leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and root vegetables; seasonal fruit in moderation, like apples, berries, citrus, avocados; sustainably-sourced meat, seafood, poultry and eggs; nuts and seeds; and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
This diet excludes sugar, processed foods, vegetable oils, grains, legumes and dairy (although some people still choose to small quantities of grass-fed dairy and butter).
At the end of the day, paleo puts an emphasis on eating real foods. If it was made in a factory, your body probably doesn’t know what to do with it. Choose whole-foods, eat lots of plants and make sure you get lots of variety!
Why exclude dairy, legumes and grains? Aren’t these health foods? They can be, if you’re not sensitive to them. But lots of people have hidden food allergies that leave them feeling bloated, suffering with digestive issues and struggling with skin problems. Paleo encourages you to eliminate problematic foods. When you’re ready, you can reintroduce them, one at a time, and see what foods you react to!
Unlike some keto circles, that encourage us to eat meat and cheese with abandon, paleo really asks us to think about where are food comes from. In the paleo world it’s better to eat a little bit of grass-fed beef instead of a lot of factory-farmed beef. And some paleo eaters would rather skip the meat altogether (say at a restaurant or gathering) if they can’t be sure that it’s been ethically and sustainably sourced. No matter what our preferences are for eating meat, I think we can all get behind the idea that this is much better for the planet and animal welfare than our current system of mass meat production!
Veganism is a diet centred entirely around plant foods, without the consumption of animals and their byproducts. Vegans don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs and even honey, and often veganism encompasses a larger lifestyle philosophy that prioritizes animal welfare–so vegans will often avoid buying leather, animal-based products, or cosmetics that were tested on animals. People can be vegan for a variety of reasons: for their health, for the ethical welfare of animals, for the environment.
Vegan diets tends to be rich in plant-based proteins, like beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh, grains nuts and seeds. And of course, when done with health in mind, it’s a diet that includes a wide variety of vegetables and fruit! Similar to paleo, veganism encourages the mass consumption of plants to ensure quality nutrition.
Meat, seafood, poultry, dairy, honey and eggs are all off the table.
One of the biggest things veganism has going for it is that it tends to be high in fibre (and if you didn’t know, fibre is key for everything from improve digestion, balancing blood sugar, feeding gut bacteria and lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease!). Regardless of the diet you choose to follow, emphasizing fibre by consuming fibre-rich foods (avocados, lentils, beans, hemp seeds and flax seeds to name a few) is something we should all be trying to do!
Whether or not you eat meat, research is pretty confident about one thing: vegetables are hella good for us. Veganism encourages a heavily plant-based diet that includes a lot of diversity. This exposes us to essential phytonutrients and antioxidants that work to lower oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Definitely something we can get behind!
Let’s be real: keto is having a moment…For like the last few years. And it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon! Keto is a low-carb, high-fat diet that aims to put you into ketosis to reap the benefits: weight loss, improved cognitive function, reduced inflammation and management of diabetes, to name a few. And the research for it is pretty strong, and continuously building! It’s been shown to help treat epilepsy, Parkinson’s, cancer and polycystic ovarian syndrome–making it a pretty therapeutic diet. But of course, not everyone does well on a keto diet, especially long-term (women specifically can struggle, as low-carb diets can throw hormones out of whack).
The diet consists of meat, seafood, poultry, dairy, eggs, low-carb vegetables, healthy fats, and nuts and seeds.
The diet omits sugar, grains, legumes, most fruit and starchy vegetables.
Thankfully, we are getting to a place where we know that our bodies–our brains–need healthy fats to function! Whether it’s omega-3s from fatty fish, or the monounsaturated fats that come from olive oil, fat is our friend and definitely not something we need to be fearing (unless of course we’re dealing with other health conditions that can be negatively impacted by eating too much fat). Choose high-quality fats like olive oil, ghee or grass-fed butter, coconut oil, avocados, fatty fish, hemp seeds and nuts to help fuel your brain and keep you satiated.
Diets that are high in carbs and processed sugar (but lack fibre, protein and fat) will leave us feeling hangry, moody and cause weight gain. To help prevent diabetes (and keep us feeling full without a midday slump in energy!) it’s important to balance our blood sugar. Eat foods that are naturally low in sugar–although you probably don’t have to overthink eating fruit, as it’s packed with fibre and phytonutrients!–and high in fibre to keep you sustained and feeling your best.
Honestly, that’s a very personal call. Not every diet is going to be suited to every person. That makes sense, we’re all quite different. But it’s important to see that most diets actually have a lot in common: eat whole-foods and stay away from processed garbage. And if you’re looking for a health-focused place to eat that caters to your dietary preferences, Impact Kitchen puts a strong focus on serving high-quality for every diet!
What are your thoughts on all these diets? Is there anyone that you adhere to, or are you a “whole foods” approach? Let us know on instagram
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