Eat Right—Right Now

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By Jennifer Bannigan, MS, RDN, CDN, CLT

Thinking about starting a new diet in 2020, but not sure which one’s right for you? As a registered dietitian, I have clients with many different types of health conditions, who want to change their diet for a range of personal reasons or beliefs. In my experience, I’ve found that diets are different for everyone; it largely depends on where the patient is in his or her life. Which diet is right for you?

Vegan Diet • Photo Credit: Ella Olsson

1. Lifestyle Diets
If you want to feel better, reduce inflammation and change your overall outlook on life, these diets could work for you:
Vegetarian Diet This whole foods diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts, eggs and dairy products.
Vegan Diet This whole foods diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts and seeds—but includes no ingredients using animal products or biproducts such as honey.
Mediterranean Diet This diet makes use of whole foods, including fruits, lots of vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, beans, peas, nuts and seeds; with fish included in meals at least twice a week, along with lean poultry, Greek yogurt and small amounts of cheese.
FAQ: Will I get enough nutrients? Does my doctor need to know that I’m starting it? It’s best to meet with a registered dietitian to make sure you’re eating a balanced diet. For example, vegetarians and vegans will likely need to take supplements such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron or calcium, but it’s always best to consult your doctor about the correct amounts, as certain supplements often meet individual needs.

Paleo Diet • Photo Credit Mark Bonica

2. Popular/Trend Diets
With these diets, the lifestyle change involved won’t be so overwhelming:
Whole30 Diet The Whole30 diet has set rules to follow: Remove added sugar; alcohol; grains; beans; dairy; carrageenan (an additive found in nut milks, meat products and yogurt); monosodium glutamate (MSG); sulfites; baked goods; and junk food for 30 days.
Paleo Diet This diet includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meat, organic poultry, wild-caught fish and oils from nuts and seeds.
FAQ: Is it OK to remove so many foods
from my diet all at once? It’s not recommended to remove the main food groups from your diet. These diets are for those individuals looking to introduce whole foods into their diet and subtract processed foods from it without being too overwhelmed.

Keto Diet • Photo Credit:Ted Eytan

3. Medically Managed Diets
These diets are for those people whose
doctors tell them that they need to improve their overall health—or that they have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and need to watch what they eat.
Ketogenic Diet Referred to as the “keto diet,” this one is a high-fat, moderate-protein and low-carbohydrate diet. The main focus is on eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrates a day. The 4:1 fat to carbohydrate ratio excludes many breads, grains and cereals, along with fruits and vegetables due to their high carbohydrate content.
Low FODMAP Diet FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. This diet might work for individuals suffering from IBS, acid reflux or food sensitivities, whose bodies have trouble properly absorbing carbohydrates and sugar alcohols.
FAQ: If I start on either of these diets, will it allow me to stop taking certain medications? If you’re thinking about starting the keto diet, it’s best to consult your doctor and a registered dietitian first. It’s possible you could decrease your need to be on certain medications.
If you’re starting a low FODMAP diet, it’s best to work with a registered dietitian, who can help introduce you to foods that are lower in FODMAPs.

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