It is difficult for health professionals, let alone the public, to accurately estimate their daily consumption of macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate, and protein) and micronutrients (e.g. vitamins and minerals). Dietary advice based on eating patterns and actual foods may therefore be more practically useful than recommending targets for specific nutrients.
There are a number of different approaches which can be adopted, each with its pros and cons; and each with a line of people queueing up to advocate it or demonise it. In reality, one size does not fit all. That is to say, different people will be able to achieve their own health goals by following different approaches. This might be due to differences in their personal preferences, their lifestyles and in the way their body metabolises different food stuffs for example. Some approaches may also not be appropriate for people with certain medical conditions, so it is important to consult with your GP before adopting a new diet.
The bottom line is that any dietary approach that helps people to meet their health goals cannot be considered wrong, as long as it is sustainable and has enough of the nutrients our body needs to prevent any other complications.
Although they may come in a variety of different forms, with different names and variations in specific details, the main dietary approaches (which you can see summaries of by clicking on in the list below) can be broadly grouped as:
Within these different approaches there are a number of common factors that most health professionals would agree on:
- Where possible real foods rather than processed foods should be chosen (i.e. avoid food that has had something added or taken away).
- Limit fast foods, convenience foods and pre-packaged foods.
- Avoid or reduce snacking: Snacking can keep insulin levels raised which can lead to increased insulin resistance, body fat storage, and raised blood glucose levels.
- Enjoy your food: The French have the lowest rates of heart disease in Europe. One theory for this is their style of eating is more sociable and relaxed. This social element is suggested to be part of why the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for health. Taking time over food and enjoying every mouthful can leads to eating less and snacking less.
We hope you find this information useful.