People like to eat; but not everyone eats the same way. Some eat a certain way due to health problems, and others are following the latest weight-loss trend. And yet others follow a lifestyle.
An omnivorous diet is one in which both animal and vegetable foods are eaten. Most people of the world are omnivorous, and this is the type of diet that is the easiest to balance, as there are no limitations. Of course, the knowledge of how much and what specific foods to eat is needed. These types of diets will be discussed more in the sections on the specific cultural diets. In the animal kingdom, though, many species are either vegetarian or carnivorous; some, such as bears and crows, are omnivorous.
A carnivorous diet is one that contains animal flesh—that is, meat. From a vegetarian viewpoint, anyone who eats meat is a carnivore, but truly most people who eat meat are omnivores. True carnivores who eat only meat are hard to find; in the animal kingdom, they include the wolf and cat families, which naturally subsist on the flesh of other animals. These animals are naturally adapted to hunt and consume flesh. Their speed, power, pointed teeth and sharp claws help them a great deal. They have no molars and cannot really chew; they rip the flesh from their prey and swallow it. And their digestive tracts are specifically designed to process the high-protein, sometimes fatty meals. They only eat vegetables, local greens, when they are sick.
The human, on the other hand, has different characteristics and a longer digestive tract, designed more to process the vegetable foods. We are adaptable and most likely can function as omnivores, though there are varying opinions on this question. One theory suggests that the eating of meat creates the desire and aggressiveness to acquire more, which initially resulted in further hunting. NowaDays, we find members of our culture hunting in the stores and in the streets and sometimes for each other.
Meats are a concentrated food, high in protein, with varying degrees of fat, only certain vitamins and minerals, and almost no fiber. The protein helps in growth and many other functions such as tissue repair, and the iron content is very good. Without the proper balance of fiber, a high meat diet will increase the risk of disease of the colon and other organs. The high-fat types of meat increase the risk of cancer, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and other problems. To balance the meat in our diet, we need supplementary fiber and more of the B vitamins, vitamins C and E, and the many minerals found in the vegetable foods.
This is the most common of the vegetarian diets, one that does not include animal flesh but does use the by-products of the chicken and/or cow—eggs and milk products (vegans, or strict vegetarians, do not eat these foods). Some vegetarians are lacto and not ovo, because of a moral aversion to eating unborn chickens. And some may be sensitive to milk but find eggs okay. However, usually the vegetable foods are the largest part of the diet, which consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Throughout history, most people’s diets have been primarily vegetarian, with meats eaten only occasionally. This is still true today throughout much of the world. It is just in the last century that the meat foods have been so heavily consumed in the Westernized cultures, such as North America, Australia, and the European countries. This is due mainly to the commercial herding, slaughtering, and packaging of flesh foods to make them readily available at the corner store.
This is the strict, or pure, form of vegetarianism. No animal products are consumed, only fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. No eggs, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, or other milk products are eaten.
This diet is not suggested for children unless the parents can painstakingly oversee it and select the right foods. It is difficult with this diet to obtain a balanced intake of all the nutrients that are needed during growth; however, it can be done. This is true also in pregnancy and lactation, where higher intakes of most nutrients are needed. I am not suggesting that this cannot be done; it just is more dangerous in its risk of creating deficiencies and subsequent health problems.
– Raw Foods
A raw food diet is a very interesting one and potentially very healthy or healing for those who have congestive maladies. It basically consists of uncooked whole foods. Foods are eaten in their uncooked, most potentially nutritious state, with the vital elements of nature still contained in them. The sun’s energy, water, and nutrients from the earth invigorate fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Sprouted beans and seeds are often a very nutritious component of the diet. Sprouted grains can be made into breads and wafers. Raw (unpasteurized) milk products may be used. Water, fresh juices, and sun teas are the main drinks in this diet. All stimulants, chemicals, and alcoholic beverages are avoided.
Though this diet can be a very healthy and adventurous one, I believe that unless it is very astutely balanced, it is not a good one for very long. It can provide good vitality and nutrient content, however, it is usually low in protein, calcium and iron, all of which could lead to problems in the long run. Also, with no heat added to the foods and an avoidance of the more concentrated and heat-producing foods, the body could become cold. People in warmer climates, those who are overweight, or those with good body heat are more likely to do well on this diet.
Many people lose weight on a raw foods diet. Proper chewing and good digestion help with this diet; some people experience more difficulty in their digestive tract than on a more cooked diet.
– Real Food
The natural or whole foods diet is really the original native or tribal diet intrinsic to all cultures before the industrial age. What was available from nature varied according to the area of the world, but all people cultivated their own food or gathered or captured wild vegetable and animal foods. The whole grain cereals, such as wheat, rice, and corn, have been and still are the predominant foods on Earth. Fruits and nuts can be cultivated and gathered from the trees. Fruits were often a special treat, eaten freshly picked, ripe and juicy. Vegetables could be grown in abundance—the greens, legumes, and root vegetables alike. Most native cultures knew to mix their grains and legumes or seeds together for complete protein nourishment. The natural food diet is rich in natural flavors. Foods are prepared so that the flavor of each food can be tasted, and that usually means with the least amount of tampering. Herbs and spices may be used to enhance flavoring if desired.
– Type-2 diabetes occurs when the body’s ability to stabilize its blood sugar fails. The American Diabetes Association’s diet guidelines aim to prevent and manage diabetes by promoting foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol while increasing the intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. The Biggest Loser Diet makes the grade with an easy-to-follow eating plan that focuses on these foods while also promoting moderate amounts of exercise.
– Low-calorie diets are created for patients who are seeking bariatric treatment or need to naturally lose weight. Obesity contributes to a vast number of health problems and combating it with the proper diet is essential for patient health. These diets are implemented by limiting high-calorie foods such as butter, cream and soft drinks.
– A high-calorie diet is frequently needed for patients that are underweight for a variety of reasons, including eating disorders, certain types of cancer and hyperthyroidism. High-calorie diets require the inclusion of extra carbohydrates as well as proteins. Counter intuitively, a high-calorie diet should exclude high-fat and fried foods as these items are digested slowly and spoil the appetite.
Low Cholesterol Diets
– In low cholesterol diets, intake of foods high in saturated fats must be avoided. These foods include beef, pork, eggs and cheese, among other items. This type of diet is necessary for maintaining heart health in patients with heart disease and atherosclerosis.
– Sodium makes the body retain water and therefore forces the heart to work harder. Therefore, patients with heart problems also need to consume a low-sodium diet. To maintain a low-sodium diet, not only should adding salt be avoided, but also smoked meats, processed foods and pickled foods should be avoided.
– The Atkins Diet, or Atkins Nutritional Approach, focuses on controlling the levels of insulin in our bodies through diet.
If we consume large amounts of refined carbohydrates our insulin levels will rise rapidly, and then fall rapidly. Rising insulin levels will trigger our bodies to store as much of the energy we eat as possible – it will also make it less likely that our bodies use stored fat as a source of energy.
Most people on the Atkins Diet will consume a higher proportion of proteins than they normally do.
Weight Watchers Diet
– Weight Watchers focuses on losing weight through diet, exercise, and a support network.
Weight Watchers Inc. was born in the 1960s when a homemaker (housewife) who had lost some weight and was concerned she might put it back on. So, she created a network of friends. Weight Watchers is a huge company, with branches all over the world.
Dieters can join either physically, and attend regular meetings, or online. In both cases there is a great deal of support and education available for the dieter.
South Beach Diet
– The South Beach Diet was started by a cardiologist, Dr. Agatston, and a nutritionist, Marie Almon.
It focuses on the control of insulin levels, and the benefits of unrefined slow carbohydrates versus fast carbs. Dr. Agatston devised the South Beach Diet during the 1990s because he was disappointed with the low-fat, high-carb diet backed by the American Heart Association. He believed and found that low-fat regimes were not effective over the long term.
– A three-tiered personalized weight loss program that focuses on food, body, and mind. The core of the diet is portion control that begins with prepackaged meals, which are usually frozen. The program also provides support to dieters through one-on-one consultations. The ultimate goal is to wean people off the prepared meals and teach them to make healthy food choices on their own.
– A prepaid meal plan with 28 days worth of meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert) delivered to your door. Menus provide a mix of low-glycemic carbohydrates, plenty of fiber, and lean protein. Daily caloric allowances are restricted to 1,200 for women and 1,500 for men. Nutrisystem offers support from registered dietitians throughout the program
The Zone Diet
– The Zone Diet aims for a nutritional balance of 40% carbohydrates, 30% fats, and 30% protein each time we eat. The focus is also on controlling insulin levels, which result in more successful weight loss and body weight control.
The Zone Diet encourages the consumption of good quality carbohydrates – unrefined carbohydrates, and fats, such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts.
– The 3-Hour Diet involves eating small portions every three hours throughout the day. The theory is that eating constantly will keep your metabolism continually running at a high rate and burning fat. There are no prohibited types of food—only portion restrictions. Fried chicken, candy bars, bacon, and red meat are allowed.
Blood Type Diet
– The Eat Right for Your Type diet (Blood Type Diet) advises people to eat certain foods based on their blood type: A, B, AB, or O. The plan posits that each blood type digests food proteins (called lectins) differently and that eating the wrong food proteins can cause ill effects on the body—including slower metabolism, bloating, and even certain diseases. According to this diet, avoiding bad food proteins will help you achieve better health.
– The Caveman Diet focuses on eating foods from the Paleolithic era of human nutritional needs—foods we ate prior to farming and domesticating animals. The goal is to train your body to crave healthy foods. This diet promises to achieve your ideal body weight, sharpen the mind, and enhance a connection to your body’s inner being—similar to a wild animal’s keen hunting instincts.
The Hormone Diet
– Hormone fluctuations can negatively affect a person’s weight, as well as other factors that can contribute to weight gain. The diet is designed to sync hormones with diet, exercise, nutritional supplements, and detoxification. The diet regulates what you eat and indicates the right time to eat to ensure the maximum benefit to your hormones.
– A blend of Buddhism and Western practices, this diet is more of a life makeover—macrobiotic means “long life”—to achieve both physical and Zen-like mental harmony. The diet is primarily vegetarian, with some fish and seafood, and focuses on natural and organic foods. True followers of the diet opt for fresh, locally grown foods. The diet’s nod to Eastern philosophies supports the idea of achieving a yin-yang balance from food.
New Beverly Hills Diet
– An updated version of the original that was published in 1981. The diet suggests that food doesn’t inherently cause weight gain; inefficiently digested food is to blame. The diet encourages eating the right foods at the right time and paying particular attention to food pairing—that is, which foods you are eating together.
– If a dinner of fish and veggies with a glass of red wine sounds like an ideal meal to you, you may have found your diet match in the Mediterranean Diet. This heart-healthy diet includes the food staples of people in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, such as Greece and Italy. With an emphasis on heart-healthy fats — those containing omega-3 fatty acids — the diet is rich in seafood, nuts and legumes, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil, as well as red wine in moderation.
– Losing weight by eating fewer calories yet still feeling full; sound like the ideal option for you? Perhaps try Volumetrics, which proposes that foods that contain more water, such as fruits and vegetables, are healthier because they have lower energy density than sugary and fatty foods. Less a diet than an approach to eating, Volumetrics is backed by sound research and strongly promotes eating to feel full; drawbacks include an emphasis on at-home cooking.