If you think this is one of those “New Year, New Me” type of posts, you’re partially right. But we’re not here to decide which diets you should or should not choose. If you’re into New Year resolutions, chances are you’re already on some kind of diet. If you’re not, you’re probably just about to pop that tenth Dorito into your mouth.
Like the general population, snacks are my kryptonite. But there’s something about the start of a new year that makes me want to drop that bag of crisps and reach for an apple instead. However, before you embark on your journey of responsible eating, it’s also important to know what you want from a diet. Are you aiming for healthier skin and hair, or is weight loss the only motivation?
From the hundreds of diets out there, we have chosen 5 that have been trending and making their rounds within the industry. From the easily-achievable alkaline and paleo diet, to Gisele Bündchen’s tear-inducing non-inflammatory option, we bring you the low-down on these diets so you can make an informed decision.
The Alkaline Diet
Endorsed by: Jared Leto and Victoria Beckham.
Less fad diet, and more like a way of life, this diet requires a bit of discipline to achieve, especially when your favourite foods are pizza and ice cream. The idea is to eat food that leave alkaline minerals — calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and copper — in your body, replacing the acid load in the body which causes ailments such as chronic fatigue, premature ageing, joint pain and acne.
Look forward to: Anti-aging, better skin, more energy, less aches, immune system boost, more efficient fat loss, reduced mood swings from sugar dependency (the list is endless).
What you can eat: Most fruits and vegetables, nuts and plant proteins, and chlorophyll.
NO-GO: Pasta, wheat, dairy products, meat, fish, coffee, tea, sugar and alcohol (SOB).
Easy cheats: If you must have your burger fix, request to have it protein-style (lettuce leaves in place of burger buns). Opt to have your coffee with coconut or almond milk instead of dairy milk, and stay hydrated throughout the day with lemon-infused or alkaline water.
Endorsed by: Uma Thurman, Megan Fox and Jessica Biel.
The Paleo diet is essentially what its nickname — the Caveman diet — means. Thousands of years ago, before Chex Mix and Kinder Surprises, our ape-like ancestors from the Stone Age lived on a straightforward but nutrient-dense diet of meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. This meant no artificial flavourings, antibiotics and toxins that we’re exposed to daily today. Similar to the Alkaline diet sans the meat part.
Look forward to: Muscle development, better gut health, reduces inflammation, better digestion, less allergies and more energy.
What you can eat: Meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables, nuts, eggs and animal fat.
NO-GO: Chex Mix and Kinder Surprises. It’s also important to note that our ancestors were nomadic, a lifestyle that didn’t allow for crop cultivation, so you’ll have to do away with grains, dairy, legumes, vegetable oils, sugar, and things you can’t forage for if stranded like Chuck on Castaway.
Easy Cheats: Replace cereal with eggs for breakfast, skip the dessert (you’ll be adequately satiated after all the protein and fibre anyway), and snack on almonds and nut butter instead of chips and chocolate.
Similar to the Paleo diet, the Whole30 diet eliminates foods that are problematic to the general population, such as dairy, sugar and gluten, processed foods and alcohol. Before you break out in cold sweat and keel over, know that this is only a 30-day challenge so the month-long suffering will eventually come to an end. Plus, it’s a great way to figure out what’s causing digestive issues, if any. If you have none to begin with, good for you, but do this anyway to feel better about yourself after all those pineapple tarts.
Look forward to: Reduced bloating, glowing skin, better moods, more energy, effortless weight loss, and identifying food allergies and intolerances.
What you can eat: Meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables, eggs and nut and seed oils.
NO-GO: Grains (including rice, corn and buckwheat), dairy, legumes (including peanut butter), alcohol, sugar and stuff you cannot pronounce.
Easy cheats: Pop vegetables and meat into the oven instead of stir-frying, add salsa to everything, and drink better coffee so you don’t need milk and sugar.
Endorsed by: Penélope Cruz
It’s not a coincidence that the folks living around the Mediterranean Sea live longer and feel better. While an active lifestyle is an important component to their longevity, their diet also plays a big role as it’s generally low in red meat, sugar and saturated fats. There isn’t a fixed set of foods you have to stick to for this diet, as the Mediterranean spans from Greece to Spain and France, but the principles are the same. If you’re looking to lose weight, there’s a chance you’ll exceed calorie intake due to the lack of structure in this diet, so plan your meals and shape your menu wisely.
Look forward to: Reduced risk of heart diseases, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease; and essentially a longer life.
What you can eat: Omega-3 rich fish, seafood, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, hearty grains, legumes and nuts.
NO-GO: Refined grains, added sugars, processed meat, refined oils. You can also have red meat, poultry, eggs, cheese and red wine (!!) in moderation.
Easy cheat: Replace white bread for whole-grained ones.
Endorsed by: Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady.
Consisting of 80 percent vegetables and 20 percent lean meat (all organic, of course), the strict diet bans not only the usual weight-gaining suspects such as sugar and white flour, but also nightshades, a group of plants that produce an alkaloid compound called solanine. This compound is part of the plants’ natural defence system and acts as a nerve poison on insects that try to eat them. Which is why people with ailments such as arthritis are sometimes advised to avoid nightshades because they might cause inflammation and joint pain. Iodised salt — which is in pretty much everything — is forbidden, but pink Himalayan salt is Gisele-approved. Raw, organic food is key to acing this diet.
Look forward to: Bündchen’s to-die-for Brazilian beach body.
What you can eat: Lots of organic vegetables, quinoa, millet, beans, lean meat, brown rice, coconut and nuts.
NO-GO: Sugar, white flour, MSG, canola oil, iodised salt, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and goji berries), caffeine, fungus, dairy, fruit (only occasionally), anything worth living for.
Easy cheats: Hypnosis, season your food with tears.