Fashion trends come and go and diet fads also have their seasonality. You may find yourself working with an array of clients with special dietary requirements or practices which are ever changing.
Being familiar with some of these unique dietary approaches will provide you a better understanding of your client’s eating habits and also allow you to design a program catered specifically to their nutritional lifestyle.
It’s nearly impossible to be acquainted with every diet out there, from the baby food diet to the cabbage soup diet– the list is endless!
Don’t worry though, we narrowed it down to 5 of the most popular diets buzzing right now along with their description, recommended foods and/or those to avoid, as well as a consensus on each diet’s pros and cons!
This holistic diet first hailed from India where its name translates to “the science of life”. Ayurvedics believe the key to preventing disease is establishing a balance within the mind and body and becoming in tune with nature.
When following the Ayurvedic principles there are three different categories known as doshas, which reflect an individual’s body type and personality. Each dosha is based on the five elements of nature (space, fire, air, water, and earth):
Vata- represents air and may indicate erratic behavior and light-heartedness. Foods recommended are warm, cooked, nourishing and easily digestible foods. Avoid cool, non-digestible foods and sugar.
Pitta- represents fire and indicates a strong personality and leadership with intense emotions. Foods recommended are cool, raw, or lightly cooked foods. Avoid fried foods and spicy foods.
Kapha- represents water and is presented in a slow and steady demeanor with a strong foundation of loyalty. Foods recommended are light, warm and spicy foods. Avoid greasy foods and processed sugar.
Survey says this is an all encompassing approach to health and relies heavily on bio-individuality and whole foods, however, there is little scientific evidence to back it up and could be limiting for some.
This diet was first recognized in the 1920’s to help control epileptic seizures in those who did not respond to medication but has since been marketed as an aid in quick weight loss. Ketogenics is based on the process of ketosis, where the body uses ketones, a byproduct from fat metabolism, for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
This process puts the body in a fat-burning state. Ketosis typically occurs when the body goes into starvation mode, carbohydrate restriction or excessive exercise. Calorie intake must be limited and made up of 80% fat in order to reach this state of ketosis.
- Low-carb vegetables
- Low-carb fruits
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy oils
Foods to Avoid:
- High-carb vegetables
- High-carb fruits
- Trans fats
- Processed food
Survey says studies have shown this diet can help individuals who suffer from epilepsy as well as support quick weight loss. On the contrary, this diet is extremely hard to maintain and has many side effects such as: dehydration, constipation, vomiting, high cholesterol, kidney stones, pancreatitis, excess fat in the blood, fatigue, behavior changes, bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth. Ketones can be toxic to the body and must be released as energy, therefore ketosis would not be safe for those who don’t exercise.
3. Low FODMAP
This diet was designed for individuals who have difficulty digesting certain short-chain carbohydrates with common symptoms such as gas, constipation and bloating. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols which are all examples of different sorts of starches or short-chain carbohydrates that can cause stomach upset. Typically this diet is prescribed for those with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) to lessen symptoms.
High FODMAP foods to AVOID:
- Artichokes, cauliflower, mushrooms, sugar snap peas
- Apples, apricots, blackberries, boysenberries, dates, figs, guava, mangoes, nectarines, papaya, peaches, pears, plums, persimmons, prunes, watermelon
- Dried and canned fruit
- Gluten-containing grains
- Lactose-containing dairy
- Trans fats
- Saturated fats
- Refined grains
- Processed foods
Survey says this diet can be beneficial for those who suffer from IBS by alleviating symptoms and can improve an individual’s overall health habits due to the avoidance of sugar and processed foods. The only qualm is it may be difficult to maintain due to the long list of restricted common foods.
Also known as the Primal diet, is centered around eating food similar to what our caveman ancestors ate in order to achieve optimal health. This means eating only whole foods which have not been processed or packaged.
Vigorous exercise is also incorporated into this diet theory, as well as only eating when hungry and getting plenty of Vitamin D. Paleo emphasizes high amounts of healthy fats and lower amounts of carbohydrates mainly coming from cooked or raw vegetables.
- Meat (organic, grass-fed)
- Poultry (organic, grass-fed)
- Fish (organic)
- Healthy fats
Foods to avoid:
- Wheat, rye, barley, oats, brown rice
- Dairy, except for ghee and grass-fed butter
- Processed foods
- Artificially low-fat foods
- Fruit juices
Survey says this incorporates a great deal of whole organic foods, high in fiber and healthy fat and discourages processed/high sodium foods. The pitfall here though is the price tag that comes with purchasing high quality meats. This diet may also be too low in carbohydrates for some individuals.
This diet focuses on consuming plant-based foods and eliminates any animal or animal by-products. Basically, anything derived from an animal is restricted from the diet (i.e. butter, honey, yogurt, cheese). Vegans may also avoid cosmetics and soaps derived from animal products as well as products which have been tested on animals.
- Nuts and seeds
Foods to avoid:
- All animal products
Survey says this can support weight loss, reduce risk for heart disease and support the environment. For some though, a strict plant-based diet could lead to anemia as well as other nutritional deficiencies (individuals going vegan should be knowledgeable about how to replace vitamins and minerals such as B12 which is a vitamin more readily absorbed in the body from animal protein).
Check out these other forms of vegetarianism:
Lacto-ovo vegetarian: someone who eats vegetables, eggs, and dairy products but who does not eat meat
Lacto-vegetarian: someone who does not eat meat and eggs, but who eats dairy products
Pescaterian: vegetarian who consumes fish
Pesco-pollo vegetarian: vegetarian who consumes fish and chicken
Flexitarian: a more flexible version of the vegetarian diet; meat is eaten occasionally but is primarily plant-based
As always, there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to wellness. Different dietary approaches work for different people, well others may not. This is why it is important to keep an open-mind when working with a diverse group of clients by respecting their values both on and off their plate!
Have your clients been on any of these diets? What other unique diets have you seen or heard of? Come join in on the the discussion over at our Facebook page!
Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s Alumni Dietary Theory Library: https://courses.iin.edlumina.com/courses/159
Regina Pellegrino is a certified Health Coach through The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, as well as a certified Fitness Specialist through San Diego Mesa College. She is currently working towards her accreditation as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Her goal is to spread her thirst for knowledge and passion for living a healthy lifestyle by helping others achieve their optimal health. Learn more about Regina at http://reginapellegrinodieteticportfolio.weebly.com