When you hear the word diet, what do you think of? A few words come to our mind – boring, restricting, short-term, and well, torture! That’s why we typically try to avoid using the “D” word altogether. Its not a very positive or uplifting term. And with all those fad diets out there, the term is often associated with gimmicks that fail to work over an extended period of time.
The word diet though really isn’t a bad word. It simply refers to the way you eat day after day. Sometimes we refer to this as a meal plan to stay away from the negative connotations dieting typically infers, but again, not all diets are bad. Especially those that are easy to implement, loaded with nutrient-rich food options, and safe to follow.
Apparently, US News and World Report agrees with us. Every year they evaluate some of the most popular diets to determine which are best overall. This year, like the two before it, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet was declared as the best diet overall, and we have to say that we’re pretty happy with that result.
Unlike diets that are restrictive, short-term, or unrealistic, the DASH diet is well-balanced and real-life ready. Its something that anyone can do and benefit from no matter their budget or dietary focus. Although it was originally developed by the National Institute for Health in an effort to help individuals lower their blood pressure, it has shown to be beneficial in lowering cholesterol and reducing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes risk.
The DASH diet is low in sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol, and total fat. It heavily emphasizes the importance of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. It is also rich in whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts. For individuals looking to lose weight on the DASH diet, caloric intake needs to be accounted for and varies depending on the individuals gender, age, and activity level. Tables to help individuals determine their daily intake goals and food serving recommendations can be found here.
In addition to the DASH diet coming in first, the TLC diet came in second with the Mayo Clinic diet, Mediterranean diet, and Weight Watchers all tying at third for best overall. Just like the DASH diet, all of these meal plans focus on lifelong change and are incredibly well-balanced.
Although many different diet plans exist, keep an eye out for those that incorporate a wide variety of foods and encourage lifestyle change. Not only are these typically the most successful types of meals plans, they are often the safest.
So ditch the diet mentality and change the way you live. Jump start it with a balanced diet, or stick to the basics. Despite all the claims and fads that arise, healthy eating principles tend to withstand the test of time.