“Oh, I’m on a diet. Would you mind if I just sit here?”
That is a line in a foreign movie I watched a long time ago, not the verbatim line, word by word, but similar to the line above. A girl friend is being invited to eat with the family of the man but she said that she’s on a diet.
We often associate the word diet to losing weight, living a healthy lifestyle, or as part of a regimen to cure a certain illness. But what is really meant by diet?
The word diet originated from diete (Old French) and dieta (Medieval Latin), both of which mean “a daily food allowance”. In the context of food and nutrition of humans, diet is the totality of the kinds and amounts of foods and drinks that we follow on a daily basis for a certain purpose, which could be losing or gaining weight or for other health and nutrition reasons.
It may or may not include restrictions but usually when someone is said to be in a diet, most often than not, there is a diet restriction.
There are so many diets out there that it is hard to describe them all one by one since some are just variations of another. I used to just hear diets like liquid diet, low-carb, low-fat or high-protein diet and vegetarian diet.
Anyone can formulate a diet or choose from the existing varieties of diets anyone can find in food and nutrition books or the easiest, the internet. Below are just some of the diets that made a name in the world of food, weight, health and nutrition.
Types of Diets
1. Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet was created by Dr. Robert Atkins. It puts emphasis on the amount of refined carbohydrates to achieve a normal amount of insulin in our body.
When we eat food high in carbohydrates, our pancreas will signal the release of insulin to avoid the sudden rise of our blood sugar level. Insulin is the hormone that regulates the sugar level in our blood.
Hence, Atkins diet is one of those low-carbohydrate diets and high in protein. They work well but do not allow many of the food you’re used to, including typical desserts.
2. The Zone Diet
Similar to Atkins Diet, The Zone Diet also makes use of insulin level control. However, this diet aims for a more balance among the three basic food groups – carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
The Zone Diet has a formula of 40-30-30 (40% carbohydrates, 30% proteins, and 30% fats).
3. Vegetarian Diet
Based on the name itself, one would immediately think that those on a vegetarian diet eat only fruits and vegetables and avoid anything that is of animal origin. But that is not always the case because the vegetarian diet has evolved.
There are now different variations of vegetarian but all variations are one in excluding meat, fish and poultry. A lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy products. An ovo-vegetarian diet allows eggs. A lacto-ovo vegetarian is a fusion of the two and includes both dairy products and eggs.
A pescatarian diet allows fish and a pollotarian allows poultry. A vegan diet excludes all foods that are of animal origin.
4. South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet was formulated by Dr. Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist, and Marie Almon, a dietician. Similar to other types of diet, the South Beach diet also utilizes the principle of insulin level control and puts emphasis on the selection of right carbohydrates and fats.
Whole grains, certain foods and vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins are included in this diet.
5. Raw Food Diet
As the name suggests, this type of diet excludes processed foods and drinks. Aside from this, foods included in the raw food diet are plant-based and as much as possible, organic.
6. Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is somewhat a variation of the zone diet as it also allows meat and poultry products and puts emphasis on the nutrients of foods.
This diet encourages consumption of fruits and vegetables and this includes whole grains and even legumes and nuts. Fat source must also be healthier and red meat is limited.
7. Cambridge Diet
The Cambridge diet was developed by Dr. Alan Howard at Cambridge University. This type of diet is based on calorie count and the major components are the branded (Cambridge) products such as shakes and soups.
8. Low-Calorie Diet
Low-calorie diets believe in the principle of energy balance – energy in and energy out. Energy contained in the foods we eat is usually measured in terms of calories. We spend energy in our daily activities and even when sleeping.
Using a simple energy balance, if one wants to lose weight then energy spent must be greater than energy in. Diet plans giving 1000-1500 calories (for women) per day are considered low-calorie diets. Alcohol, including beer and liquor are typically off limits due to their high calorie content.
9. Low-Fat Diet
The low-fat diet emerged from the discovery that high-fat diets are linked to obesity, heart disease and other serious medical conditions. With the recommendation of health professionals that we must eat foods low in fat, low-fat diets came into the limelight.
A low-fat diet restricts the fat content to not more than 30% of total calories. Chicken breast, fruits, vegetables, and oatmeal are all staples in a typical low fat diet.
The diets described above are just a fraction of hundreds or even thousands diets available. There are those called low-sodium, low-cholesterol and among many other diets. Some diets may have different names but share the same principle.
With so many types of diet to choose from, the ultimate decision is still on us. It’s our choice. But whatever diet we may follow, we should never neglect the aspect of nutrition.
Dieting is not just about losing or gaining weight; it’s not just about avoiding restricted foods either. A healthy diet is still about balance.
We must always bear in mind the importance of nutrients, the balance of nutrients in our body. Hence, whatever diet we choose, it must be nutrient-focused and less on junk. In most cases, after all, we are indeed what we eat.