POPULAR DIETS (you may not have heard of)

I started thinking about all of the diets that might be out there, that people lead their lives by, and that I might not know anything about. Even the definition of 'vegetarian' and 'vegan' often seems to be blurred ("I am a vegan, but I eat fish"...). The purpose of this post is to outline some of the more popular diets out there, just in case you come across someone who follows it and you can say, "Jeezz..I know ALL about that". I have also posted some great websites for each diet, in case you are interested in trying some of them out, or reading more about them.

1) Vegetarian
For the most part, vegetarians are anyone who refrains from eating animal meat, fish, or often the use of any animal products. So, during thanksgiving dinner, you can expect a vegetarian not to eat the turkey, but will partake in the buttery-cheesy-potatoes, and perhaps the egg-filled lemon meringue pie. There are exceptions to this, as are listed below:

a) Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian
Most Vegetarians fall under this category. This type of vegetarian WILL NOT eat meat/fish , but they WILL eat eggs and milk products.

b) Lacto-Vegetarian
This type of vegetarian WILL NOT eat meat/fish, or eggs, but they WILL consume milk/dairy products (bring on the cheese!)

c) Ovo-Vegetarian
This type of vegetarian WILL NOT eat meat/fish, or milk/dairy products, but they WILL eat eggs (bring on the omelet!)

d) Pescatarian
This type of vegetarian is often frowned upon in the vegan and vegetarian community (not by me, I am happy with even the smallest of changes in eating habits that are cruelty free), because although they WILL NOT consume meat (anything with legs), and sometimes dairy/milk/eggs products, they WILL occasionally eat fish products. There are many reasons for this, and it is completely based on the consumer. So, perhaps alongside the turkey, serve some salmon, that way they won't feel left out :)

e) Flexitarian
This is a relatively new definition that is suited for people who often lead a vegetarian life, but also make exceptions to the rule. You are a flexitarian if you usually refrain from eating meat/fish/dairy/milk/eggs, but occasionally eat them when you feel like it. You do not want to be held down to the label of 'vegetarian', which allows you to enjoy meat/ animal products when the moment arises. So, thanksgiving turkey may in fact be consumed by this type of vegetarian.

Website: "The Vegetarian Society"

2) Vegan
A vegan is anyone who refrains from consuming, or purchasing (to the best of their ability) any product that contains animal, or appropriates cruelty to animals. All vegan meals are plant-based, containing no meat/fish/dairy/milk/eggs. It is a difficult feat on consideration many everyday necessities could contain animal products. This type of diet is not just about food, but everything in between; it capitalizes on compassionate living, and conscious consummation. 

Website: "The Vegan Society"

3) RAW foodist/ Living Diet
This is one of the newer diets, that has become increasingly popular for its health benefits. A RAW foodist is very much like a vegan, but it goes a step further in that they WILL NOT consume anything that has been cooked (above 115 degrees F). Raw foodism is a lifestyle that promotes the consumption of un-cooked, un-processed, and often organic foods as a large percentage of the diet. Raw foodists believe that the greater the percentage of raw food in the diet, the greater the health benefits (and their are many doctors, and much research that would agree). This is mainly because cooking food often kills many of the necessary nutrients that would have made the food healthy in the first place. If you are serving a RAW foodist, make a kick-ass salad, with lots of nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit. Even then, you would have to make sure that the dressing you use is unprocessed

Website: "The Best of Raw Food"

4) Gluten-Free, or Wheat-Free
Many people suffer from Celiac disease (an often debilitating disease that can lead to a whole host of issues, mainly digestive). The culprit is gluten (which is found in all wheat products), and wheat. Because gluten can be found in many commonly used products, from soy-sauce to bread, it is now becoming popular companies to offer gluten-free alternatives (pastas, breads, etc.). This diet is not often a choice, but a necessity, where wheat/ gluten will in-fact harm this person, if consumed.

Website: "Gluten-Free Network"

5) Paleo (Paleolithic)
Paleo diet is essentially the "Cave-Man" diet. It is supported by many fitness/ nutrition activists around the world. It mimics the 'hunter-gatherer' diet, in that the foods that are consumed are only those that would have been available in the wild (prior to genetic modification/ human interference). A Paleo foodie WILL eat meat, chicken, fish, some fruits and vegetables, and some nuts, seeds and berries. They also increase their intake of organ meats, and root vegetables (aside from potatoes). They WILL NOT eat grains, beans, potatoes, dairy products, sugar or salt. This diet is difficult in that it is not just black and white (plant based/ meat based) but the food choices range, and it is often surprising what can, or cannot be eaten. The theory behind it all is that when all major, long-standing dietary components are capitalized on, the body will be at its optimum strength.

Website: "Paleo Lifestyle"

6) Macrobiotic
The macrobiotic diet and philosophy were developed by a Japanese educator named George Ohsawa, who believed that simplicity was the key to optimal health. The macrobiotic diet is a low-fat, high fiber diet that is a predominantly vegetarian diet, emphasizing whole grains and vegetables. Whole grains typically make up 50 to 60% of each meal (including brown rice, whole wheat berries, barley, millet, rye, corn, buckwheat, and other whole grains, but only occasionally oats, noodles, pasta, bread, baked goods, and other flour products). Many fermented soy bean products such as miso, are consumed as well as a small amount of fish or seafood (But usually not meat or dairy). The strength of this diet is that it promotes the foods that are often lacking in a healthy food routine, such as whole-grains, fruit and vegetables. It is also low in sugar, and fat.

Website: "Macrobiotics"

7) Weight-Loss (This list could be exhaustive! I have stuck to the more popular choices, as well as the ones that can be held to for life (as opposed to the quick-fix weight loss choices)

a) Atkins:
The atkins diet focuses on "low-carbohydrate" foods and meals, a favorite among many celebrities. By limiting refined-carbohydrates, one may find that they are also limiting their intake of fat and sugar (bonus). Their are many claimed health benefits to this type of diet, but if done incorrectly, a lack of carbohydrates can in fact do more harm than good.

Website: "Atkins"

b) Zone:
This diet focuses on hormonal balance, suggesting that the healthiest eating regimen should focus on the balanced ratio of carbohydrates (40%), fat (30%) and proteins (30%). The claim to fame of this diet is that all types of foods can be eaten, and are only restricted by the ratio. There are other factors that play into this diet, such as when and how much you eat at one sitting, but overall the theories of this diet are well accepted by nutritionists, especially for weight loss.

Website: "Zone Diet"

c) Weight Watchers:
This is one of the most popular weight-loss diet plans, for various reasons. Not only is it backed by many influential celebrities, a great emphasis is placed on not just diet, but exercise and goal-making. The “Four Pillars” of the Weight Watchers approach also promotes healthy habits, a supportive environment, and exercise, in addition to making smarter food choices. It is about changing how someone lives for the long-term, rather than just the short-term. This means the diet involves a lot of education, as well as frequent visits to an actual weight-watchers building. The diet works on a points system, where all foods are given a number, and it is in the combination of numbers that makes up what can and cannot be eaten. This means you are not restricted (per-say) to eating that jumbo brownie, but it will make it so that you are not able to eat as much, after that, throughout the day. In this way, you are able to enjoy your favorite foods, but they may be more limited than before.

Website: "Weight Watchers"

d) South Beach Diet:
This diet is divided into three phases of learning, Phase 1: eliminating cravings, Phase 2: losing weight, and Phase 3: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Like Weight Watchers, it involves both a diet AND fitness program. This diet emphasizes eating a wide variety of delicious, nutrient-dense, wholesome foods. It educates you on how to make the best food choices, so you can improve your health and lose weight. It focuses on lean sources of protein, low-fat/ dairy, and fiber-rich foods.

Website: "The South Beach Diet"

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  1. This is great info!

    I'm currently on the "stop eating so much crap and get your fat butt off the couch" diet.

    Well, I'm going to start tomorrow...

  2. I think lugging a baby around (both in the belly, and outside of the belly) entitles you to some fat-butt-couch dieting. I don't know what my excuse is though? lol

  3. I am a Pescatarian. But my reasons have nothing to do with omega 3's. I don't so much think eating animals is inherently wrong, I just have a lot of issues with modern meat production.
    Fish, especially wild-caught, is a different system that I don't have such issues with.
    I was surprised by that summary, because I feel like my opinion, or something along these lines, is shared by many Pescatarians.

  4. Thanks for your input. Although I do know MANY pescatarians who base their choice of eating fish mainly off of health reasons, I am glad you pointed out that that may not be the only reason (or perhaps greatest reason).


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