Greatist Op-Eds analyze what’s making headlines in fitness, health, and happiness. The thoughts expressed here are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect Greatist’s outlook.
What’s the Deal?
Some of the main reasons for snubbing the Caveman Diet — which is basically just vegetables, meat, fruit, and nuts — are that it’s expensive, hard to follow, and hasn’t been proven to improve health or help people lose weight. Meanwhile, their “Best Diet Overall” is the DASH diet, which recommends tightly controlling calories, avoiding salt and fat, and eating plenty of grains — up to eight servings per day.
One of the reasons the list has proved so controversial is that there are several promising (albeit small-scale) studies that have found Paleo to be a great way to lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and there’s evidence that toxins in grains can damage the digestive tract
The Real Best Diet
What if the “best diet” means something different for everyone, and can even evolve and change as we do?
U.S. News and World Report based their rankings on factors like “Weight Loss,” “Nutritional Completeness,” and “Ease of Compliance.” Those are all smart considerations, but do they add up to a one-size-fits-all winner?
I’d say no — because they’re subjective categories. Weight loss isn’t necessarily a priority for every person; supplements can fill the gaps in many “incomplete” diets (e.g. B12 for vegans); and what makes a diet “easy to follow” (or even what qualifies as “healthy”) varies from person to person. Heck, the list ranks the shake-based Slim-Fast diet ahead of a simple vegan one!
Just because an objectively “best” diet can’t be determined by an algorithm, that doesn’t mean there’s no best diet for you.A good way to start figuring it out is to ask three questions:
- Does it make me and my body feel good?
- Can I stick with it?
- Is it helping me reach my health and happiness goals?
If the answers are “Yes,” then keep doing you.
If you’re especially at risk for diabetes or heart problems, some of the report’s criteria might be useful. But the “best” way to eat, arguably, is the one that makes you feel happy and healthy, and no one can determine that but you. You might thrive by going vegetarian, Paleo, Weight Watchers, or living on nothing but (healthy) crockpot recipes!
Whether you like counting calories or find it easier to just swear off gluten, finding the system that works for you and makes you feel good is the real key to lasting health and happiness. Here’s to healthy, everyone!
Do you think there’s such a thing as the “Best Diet”? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet the author @ncjms.