When it comes to choosing what we eat, there are endless options for self-experimentation and, hopefully, self-improvement. The truth is that our diet is not just about the food we eat; it’s also a powerful factor in our overall lifestyle choice.
Diet decisions can affect our fitness, our environmental views, our preference in restaurants, where we shop for food, and beyond. Because your diet has such a far-reaching influence on other parts of your life, it’s easy to get swept up in the contagious momentum (or, some might say, the cultish following) of a certain diet. For example, many powerlifters and Crossfit diehards swear by the benefits of the Paleo diet, while animal rights activists and those who prefer mind-body practices tend to favor the principles of veganism or vegetarianism.
So, how do you know what diet is right for you? In an effort to avoid pitting one lifestyle diet against another, we want to point out the positives of three currently popular diets: Paleo, Macro, and veganism/vegetarianism.
The pros of the Paleo Diet
- The premise of the Paleo Diet is to eat as the cavemen ate. This means that the Paleo diet can successfully eliminate all artificial additives, inflammatory agents, toxins, and fake sugars.
- This diet is high in healthy fats and proteins, with an emphasis on meats, fish, and healthy oils.
- The Paleo Diet is also rich in iron, as it calls for red meat.
- You’ll have a very low carbohydrate intake, which can help those trying to shed pounds fast.
- There are no stern food quantity regulations, though any diet assumes that you will eat until you are satisfied (not stuffed). Many people who “go Paleo” eat larger portions of high-protein foods, and therefore claim to sustain a high amount of energy for long periods of time.
The pros of the Macrobiotic Diet
- The “Macro” Diet is a popular nutritional approach for people battling illness, specifically cancer patients. Notably, Steve Jobs became Macro after being diagnosed. Other celebrities who have experimented with or promoted a Macro diet include Scarlett Johansen and Madonna.
- The Macro Diet is built around the idea of physical and spiritual energy. It is a way of eating that looks at the lifeline of food, how it came to be, and how it affects our body’s energy. This diet promotes a very mindful way of eating and thinking about food, and people are less likely to overeat because it encourages a holistic experience with food.
- Macro encourages the consumption of raw foods and the minimization of hot oils when cooking. You will get plenty of vitamin-rich and fibrous veggies and legumes with this diet!
- Macro meals are incredibly simple in their contents: short grain brown rice, vegetables, and a small number of nuts, seeds, and berries, are the staple for this diet. If Macron had a mantra, it would be “simplify, simplify, simplify.” Your grocery bill is sure to be low with a Macro Diet!
The pros of veganism/vegeterianism
- Also known as plant-based eating, veganism, and vegetarianism eliminate most animal products. Vegetarianism will still allow animal byproducts (such as milk, honey, and cheese), but veganism rules out all of these. Because of this huge elimination, these diets depend on fruits, grains, and vegetables. You’ll be more likely to have meals with lots of greens if your plate doesn’t have a big old steak on it!
- Plant-based eating helps fight diabetes, as it largely eliminates fake sugars and processed foods.
- Plant-based diets have very little saturated fat. They’ve been associated with low blood pressure, low cholesterol, and improved heart health.
- Because plant-based diets are rich in the vitamins and minerals of real, natural foods, they are usually credited for improving skin and hair condition.
The keys to any dietary and lifestyle choices are consistency and balance. Find moderation in your practice, but also make it a regular practice—not a pendulum that takes you on highs and lows.
Psychology has shown that most habits take 21 days to form, so perhaps try each of these diets for 21 days, and keep a journal to track how you feel. Note your digestion, energy level, satisfaction after meals, and sleep quality. Also, note how difficult it was for you to adhere to each diet’s pillars. If going out to eat was a constant nightmare, and you go out to eat often, maybe you need to tailor that diet to fit it with the realities of your lifestyle.
See what makes you feel good, and make it your guiding compass for how you nourish your body!