- The Sad Truth About ‘Fat Acceptance’
- 13 Absurd Wellness Trends That Need To Go Away In 2019
- What Made One Woman Obsess Over—Then Quit—the Biggest Wellness Fads
- Restrictive living
- Diet disillusions
- The best overall diets for 2019
- 1. Mediterranean diet
- 2. DASH diet
- 3. Flexitarian diet
- 4 (tie). MIND diet
- 4 (tie). WW (Weight Watchers) diet
- Low-ranking diets
The Sad Truth About ‘Fat Acceptance’
Last week, self-described queer non-binary “fat sex therapist” Sonalee Rashatwar delivered a two-hour lecture entitled Race as a Body Image Issue at the St. Olaf College Health and Wellness Center in Minnesota. The event was a master class in social justice, at times putting shame to the parodies of the genre that now traffic on social media.
In the video, the visibly obese woman asks: “Is it my fatness that causes my high blood pressure—or is it my experience of weight stigma?” In the presentation, which has gone viral, Rashatwar also compared “fatphobia” not only to eugenics (which is itself absurd) but also to “Nazi science,” and declared that “a child cannot consent to being on a diet the same way a child cannot consent to having sex.” Indeed, the very titles of her recurring presentations—including Health is a Social Construct, Decolonizing Sex Positivity, Gender Isn’t Real and Neither Is Health and How Fat Queers the Body—seem something you’d find on the feed of satirists such as Titania McGrath or Madeline Seers. Yet Rashatwar can’t be dismissed as just another social-media kook—for she is regularly invited to speak to actual health experts at numerous universities across North America, including, recently, medical students at the University of Texas. The listed speaking fee on her web site is US$5,000. (She also specifies that “travel arrangements should not be made on Sonalee’s behalf by the host organization due to her disability needs.”)
At St. Olaf, Rashatwar began with a Native land acknowledgement—which, as a Canadian, I found odd: Obesity is a huge problem for Indigenous people. In Canada, 37% of reserve-resident First Nations people are obese.
In the United States, it is estimated that 60-80% of American Indigenous and Alaska Natives are overweight or obese, and more than 30% are in a diabetic or pre-diabetic state.
What allows her to compartmentalize the issues of Indigenous welfare and obesity, I suppose, is her belief that the goal of avoiding extra poundage is a “white supremacist beauty ideal.” She informs audiences that “I come from an exclusively pro-body and anti-diet perspective.
This means I will never use food moralism to tell you to replace foods you love with foods you hate. I will never use intentional weight loss as a therapeutic goal. I will never collude with fatphobia in our therapeutic work.” In layman’s terms, this apparently seems to boil down to accepting—or even celebrating—obesity as part of a normal healthy lifestyle.
Watching Rashatwar’s heavy breathing and frequent labored pauses made me flinch with recognition. I still have an audio recording from the days when I was 100 pounds heavier than I am today. I huffed the same way.
I can envision what that breathing pattern would become if Rashatwar—or the old version of me—were forced to climb a set of stairs.
The pain in the chest, the attempt to mask how desperately air was needed between closed lips, delaying the frantic heaving until no one was around—I remember it all.
Yet Rashatwar dismisses such concerns as artifacts of “white-settler colonialism,” and, in her speech, claimed that “my fat doesn’t make my life hard to live. It’s fatphobia that makes my life hard to live.” Unfortunately, gravity wasn’t invented by white settlers. Nor do the rules that govern the human cardiopulmonary system operate according to skin colour.
Rashatwar claims she is a “survivor” of fatphobia. I am a survivor of fat. I share her use of the word “survivor” because when I was standing at 4’10” and 300 pounds, my obesity almost took my life. A kinesthesiologist friend told me that the physical toll on my body was the equivalent of more than 400 pounds of weight on an average woman.
I had sleep apnea to the point where I woke up with headaches every morning due to lack of oxygen. I had developed the characteristic black ring of dying, diabetic flesh around my neck.
My menstrual cycle had abated completely, and the smallest amount of activity—going to the laundry room in my apartment complex—had become so difficult that I was forcing family members to do mundane tasks on my behalf.
I don’t use the word “phobia” to describe how other people regarded me. But, yes, I do remember feeling a crippling sense of social shame. I remember being unable to shop in any normal store for clothes.
I remember sitting in my university lecture hall, unable to close the flip-desk over my lap because I was simply too big.
I also remember the indescribable sadness that came with all these things, which sometimes compelled me to seek out figures such as Rashatwar, who offered some hope of lessening my sadness.
For she is not alone: There’s a whole movement out there called Health at Every Size (HAES)—sometimes classified as a doctrinal sub-branch of the “fat acceptance movement.” I had a very brief flirt with HAES after becoming angry at just how excluded I was, how worthless I felt as a human being in the eyes of others.
I don’t agree with most of what Rashatwar says, and I do believe her faddish, social-justice approach to health is nonsensical.
But as someone who has survived morbid obesity, and who solidly believes in the benefits of healthy living, I also oppose the way anti-HAES advocates (or, in many cases, trolls) attack or mock those who embrace HAES ideas.
In online forums, one can observe a cycle by which strident anti-HAES critics cause defensive-minded HAES advocates to cling to their “fat acceptance” notions all the more insistently.
On this, Rashatwar and I agree: People have an inherent value, no matter their weight, and no one should ever be mocked, abused, or excluded on the basis of how they look.
An acknowledgement must also be made to the effect that losing weight is tremendously difficult for many people, as studies have demonstrated that the foods that contribute most to weight gain behave drugs in our system. You can be addicted to certain kinds of foods in a very real sense.
Many morbidly obese people, myself still included, have food addictions or binge-eating disorders. These are real psycho-medical concerns that are still poorly understood with few effective medical interventions.
But there are also other equally indisputable truths regarding human health that Rashatwar and many HEAS advocates dangerously deny. And one of them is that being obese will make you die earlier, regardless of how enlightened everyone around you might be, or how effectively we wage war against “fatphobia.”
I can attest that Rashatwar is correct when she says that medical practitioners often gloss over an overweight patient’s medical concerns, and instead lecture them simplistically to “lose weight.
” Rashatwar mentions the case of Ellen Maud Bennette, a 64-year-old Canadian woman who died of cancer. Her obituary noted that doctors had stood by for years without delivering proper oncological care, because they were more concerned with hectoring her about her weight.
By the time Bennette was diagnosed, she was terminal. But it is misleading to focus on anecdotes without also noting that 18% of all deaths in the United States are obesity-related—something Rashatwar seems to ignore.
If a doctor does all the necessary tests on a patient, and the recommendation still boils down to “lose weight”—as it sometimes does—is this still “fatphobia”?
other members of the HAES movement, Rashatwar effectively argues that since problems such as coronary artery disease and diabetes can be addressed through medical interventions, it’s discriminatory to tell patients that they should instead change their body size through diet and exercise.
But even a layperson knows that this core claim is ridiculous, because the two approaches aren’t mutually exclusive: Healthy living that promotes strong baseline health levels is entirely consistent with drugs, surgeries and medical therapies that cure or palliate the ailments we all inevitably contract.
And so it amazes me that medical students can sit through Rashatwar’s lectures with a straight face.
After decrying the differentiation between different kinds of food, and peddling the fiction that all foods present equal nutritional benefit to the body, Rashatwar stated in her St.
Olaf speech that the Christian-supremacist concept of “purity” had contaminated our conception of food and health, and noted that “we see parallel conversations in the denial of sex as pleasure and food as pleasure.
” This is nonsense on the level of her Nazi metaphors—and seemed especially absurd when juxtaposed against Rashatwar’s respectful posture toward Indigenous peoples—for it is universally understood that the introduction of heavy refined starches and sugars to the Indigenous people of North America was a chief contributor to high obesity rates and other poor health outcomes. Was it “fatphobia” when, in 2015, the Navajo/Diné nation imposed a tax on junk food and sugary drinks to curb the popularity of refined, fatty foods in their territories? Are Indigenous activists who advocate for healthy forms of traditional eating fatphobic? What about those who share Rashatwar’s South Asian ancestry? Many are raising concerns about the introduction of Western-style foods, and one would assume this is a more authentic approach to local health needs than Rashatwar’s apparent insistence that KFC and Domino’s Pizza are on the same nutritional plane as fresh vegetables and lean meats.
Rashatwar’s repeated use of the word pleasure to describe our relationship with food struck a chord with me. Food is a source of joy, certainly, especially when it is shared with others. But her apparent suggestion that it exists on the level of sex, and even love, seems a recipe for sadness and loneliness.
When I was heavier, food was a coping mechanism, a codependent false friend, a pack of cigarettes. It didn’t judge, and always gave me a rush. Rashatwar’s insistence that it’s “fatphobia”—as opposed to actually being fat—that keeps her from leading a full life sounds the internal negotiating script of an addict.
The task of losing weight forces an obese person to deny themselves the passing pleasures associated with certain food. Rashatwar’s workaround is to externalize the problem—by insisting that society implement infinite accommodations for an infinitely growing body.
On a psychological level, Rashatwar’s approach also allows her to channel negative feelings into defiance, and even anger—which are easier feelings to manage than shame, guilt or sadness. Her ideology provides a shield from bad feelings, at the expense of the body’s health needs.
I cannot presume to know what will become of Sonalee Rashatwar, long may she live. If she ever does decide to lose weight, I hope she is successful in that journey.
But Rashatwar should be forewarned that, as with ex-HAES plus-sized model Rosie Marcado, who received death threats after losing 240 pounds, the pleasure-seeking monster she helped create will never forgive her.
For it is not just food that can seize us in the claws of addiction, but also the seductive ideologies that offer license to consume it with self-destructive abandon.
Anna Slatz is a Canadian writer. Follow her on at @YesThatAnna.
Featured image: Portrait of Daniel Lambert (1770-1809). Date circa 1800. Oil on canvas. Unidentified painter.
13 Absurd Wellness Trends That Need To Go Away In 2019
With the wellness industry worth nearly $4 trillion, it’s no surprise that many people are trying to jump on board. We’ve watched different companies try new concepts — from airlines offering healthier in-flight food to corporate mindfulness programs ― and have seen an explosion of trends and products accompanied by promises to improve our health and well-being.
But for every trend or product that actually helps us get healthier, there are hundreds that are simply a flash-in-the-pan fad. Some may just put a big dent in your bank account with no reward, while others may actually harm you. Below, we reminisce about the most ridiculous trends that caught our eye this year — and figure out whether any of them hold (good, old-fashioned, plain) water.
We bet we weren’t the only ones whose jaws dropped after hearing Hollywood A-listers Kate Beckinsale, Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock talk about the benefits of the “penis facial.” Turns out, the skin-care treatment doesn’t actually have anything to do with the actual male anatomy — thankfully.
Instead, it gets its NSFW name from an ingredient that uses a synthetic form of a molecule derived from circumcised foreskins, as Georgia Louise, a New York-based facialist who gave the treatment to Blanchett and Bullock, told Entertainment Tonight.
It’s called epidermal growth factor, or EGF, and “it does not include the original extract itself,” Louise said. While it is somewhat controversial, the treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and generally safe, according to experts.
Although the goat yoga trend seems to be holding on strong, there’s a new farm animal on the wellness scene. A farm in upstate New York offers 90-minute therapy sessions with cows (and other countries are hopping on the trend, too). Supposedly, their higher body temperatures can help people feel warmer, calmer and more relaxed, according to the farm’s website.
Here’s the thing: While animals of any kind are certainly cute ― and research does show that being around furry friends comes with a host of health benefits ― some experts say distractions animals during yoga goes against the point of mindfulness-based practices.
“Yoga is a practice where you turn inwards,” said Jenni Bourque, a registered holistic nutritionist and founder of Naughty Nutrition. “For most of us, this involves removing as many distractions as possible, including unnecessary thoughts. Being around cute animals may be fun, but ultimately incredibly distracting from our intentions.”
Chances are you’ve seen Instagram “influencers” hawking diet or detox teas, claiming they’ll help you shed pounds and shrink your stomach. Sure, they’re tempting to try — after all, tea is healthy for you, isn’t it? Well, definitely not these types of tea.
“There are no magic ingredients in these teas, and any success can be attributed simply to the added water consumption from drinking all that tea,” said Jeffrey Davis, a certified personal trainer and owner of NextLevel Strength & Conditioning. The only magic in these weight-loss miracles is how they will downsize your wallet.
While “dog-ear implants” inspired by the famous social media filter may not be a thing quite yet, experts did see some plastic surgery requests inspired by photo and video tuning.
“In 2018, I have absolutely seen an increase in patients getting procedures that are motivated by social media,” said Dr. Norman M. Rowe, a board-certified plastic surgeon. Thanks to apps Instagram and Snapchat, people are spending more time than ever comparing and analyzing their appearance to a heavily filtered version of themselves and other people.
“While this has happened in the past thanks to Photoshop, what’s changed is the sheer number of times that we look at our faces in photographs these days,” Rowe said. “The desire for plastic surgery to match our filtered perception was bound to happen.”
If you find yourself wanting to look more the filtered face in your screen than your own beautiful self, step back from social media. And if you’re experiencing any struggles with body image that affect your day-to-day life, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.
In May, Kim Kardashian sparked an internet firestorm after she posted a photo promoting “appetite suppressant lollipops” on Instagram — and for good reason. There’s little (if any) validation that sucking on a lollipop will curb your hunger.
“Not only is the claim that a lollipop will destroy your appetite and lead to weight loss extreme, but it’s pretty irresponsible of celebrities to promote weight-loss products on their social media accounts,” said Dr.
Clare Morrison, a general practitioner and nutrition expert at MedExpress, an online pharmacy. And Kardashian’s not the only one who supports this brand — over 1.
6 million people follow Flat Tummy Co, the brand that makes the lollipops, on Instagram.
To be clear: Any sort of flat-tummy candies are another health fad that does not work, Morrison said, adding, “It’s just another way for brands to make money through influencers — and not a sustainable or safe way to lose weight.”
Toward the end of 2018, drinking celery juice as a health fix started to trend on Instagram (a search for #celeryjuice turns up more than 50,000 posts). Celebrities Maria Menounos and Miranda Kerr also jumped on board.
Proponents of celery juice say it can help with conditions such as acne, anxiety and depression, migraines, digestive issues and more.
The originator of the “Global Celery Juice Movement,” author Anthony William, even claimed that “celery juice can save your life.”
While drinking celery juice may be healthy — or at least not harmful — downing a glass every morning probably won’t live up to these grandiose expectations.
There is no scientific evidence to support the claims from William and those on Instagram, as there have not been any large-scale human studies done using celery juice as a treatment for chronic conditions.
If you the taste of celery, or want some added nutrients, feel free to drink up — but don’t count on any miracles.
This is another fad that has taken off in the wellness world, in part due to celebrities Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna swearing by the procedure. The idea that a colonic ― a procedure that uses water to flush out your colon ― can help with bloating, constipation and even weight loss.
Sounds great (albeit a little gross), right? But of course, there’s a catch: It’s completely unnecessary to “remove toxins” or waste from your body, Morrison said. “Your liver, kidney, stool and urine naturally remove toxins and waste from your body, and the colon itself is a very dynamic, hardworking organ that does its job naturally,” Morrison added.
Clean eating ― or the idea of eating as close to nature as possible (think: minimally processed foods fruits, veggies, whole grains, and animal and plant-based protein) ― is a popular term that we’d to see retired in 2019.
While this is certainly a healthy way to eat, here’s the problem with the phrase: “When you say that a food is ‘clean,’ it implies that other foods are dirty, shameful and bad for you,” Morrison said. “This can lead to categorizing food into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and make you fear certain foods, which harms your relationship to food overall.”
Rather than subscribe to a rigorous “clean eating diet,” or any other restrictive diet for that matter, focus on healthy eating habits overall instead of depriving yourself. There’s no need to eliminate entire food groups or only focus on one. “This will do just as good a job at helping you stay healthy as ‘clean eating’ can,” Morrison said.
The online wellness community has been abuzz about apple cider vinegar for the past few years. While research has shown the ingredient does have some antiviral, weight-loss and antibacterial benefits, it’s not a magic tonic that will yield massive results, according to Maya Feller, a registered dietician and owner of Maya Feller Nutrition.
“If you want to add it to your routine in moderation, do so as part of a mostly whole foods and minimally processed balanced diet — that seems more reasonable to me than drinking shots of it daily and hoping for a miracle,” Feller said.
It’s a bizarre sight to scroll past on Instagram: people brushing their teeth with black toothpaste, drinking a dark black liquid or rubbing a black mask all over their face. This is all to harness the power of “activated charcoal,” in hopes of whitening their teeth, detoxing their body or clearing up their skin. But does it really work?
Turns out, there is one legit use for activated charcoal: It is used in emergency medicine when someone has life-threatening toxins in their body, Men’s Health reported. Charcoal binds to the poison in the digestive tract and prevents it from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Although there are popular claims that it can brighten your teeth, detox your body or help clear up your skin, many experts are cautious of recommending it for daily use.
Worse, charcoal actually prevents nutrients from being absorbed and may interfere with certain medications, blood pressure meds — so it’s probably a good idea to skip those black drinks for now (not that they looked all that appealing to begin with!).
There is no shortcut for sun care.
In May, the FDA made an announcement calling out several companies for “putting people’s health at risk by giving consumers a false sense of security that a dietary supplement could prevent sunburn, reduce early skin aging caused by the sun or protect from the risks of skin cancer.” The companies in question had to revise their marketing claims and stop marketing them as sun protection.
For example, one company, Sunsafe Rx, had claimed that “just one capsule per day provides natural, healthy, anti-aging protection from UV rays,” according to Women’s Health. Just in case you needed a reminder: No pill or capsule can protect your skin from sun damage.
While this particular wellness trend popped up several years ago, it’s still worth mentioning for good measure.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle website Goop has come under fire for a number of bogus health claims, but none garnered quite as much attention as the Jade Egg, which is intended to be inserted in a woman’s vagina.
A now-removed page on the Goop website claimed that the Jade Egg would “increase vaginal muscle tone, hormonal balance and feminine energy in general.” This outlandish claim was one of several that garnered the Goop brand a lawsuit, which Paltrow’s company settled in September after agreeing to pay $145,000 in damages.
“If you really want to ‘balance’ your energy, we’d recommend eating a diet high in healthy, whole foods and focusing on your mental state — rather than buying an overpriced egg that goes inside your body,” Bourque said.
Crystal enthusiasts believe the stones emit certain energy and vibrations that have the power to “make you healthier and happier.” However, there is absolutely zero scientific evidence that supports crystal therapy, Bourque said.
Regardless of the research, or lack thereof, companies and brands are taking advantage of the latest crystal obsession by selling products with crystals, this $80 amethyst quartz crystal elixir water bottle. (This water bottle was also popularized by Goop.)
Instead of falling for the crystal fad, save $70 and buy a reusable water bottle instead. Add some fruit if you want to jazz it up — that’ll give you some real, valuable nutrients that we know can do the body wonders, Bourque said.
What Made One Woman Obsess Over—Then Quit—the Biggest Wellness Fads
I’ve never really been one for making, or, more accurately, sticking to, New Year’s resolutions, yet in 2015 I made it happen for the first time; if only for a few months. Predictably, my goal was to “get fit,” whatever that meant.
There were no set specifications; no pin-pointed end goal nor method of measuring progress (error number one), but having never previously considered myself anything other than mostly sedentary, bar my weekly dance lesson, I figured that “get fit” meant any additional movement whatsoever.
A year prior I had taken on a new challenge; Irish dancing, and, boy, was it a challenge. In my naivety, I had imagined it would be a breeze, and I’d be a natural Flatley. Not quite the case.
I had a hard time keeping up with my classmates and left each lesson feeling defeated. The only way to catch up, I decided, was to get fit.
If I improve my diet and increase my movement, I thought, the Flatley thing would surely happen.
Motivated, I made changes I genuinely thought to be healthy. I stopped eating gluten. And most carbs. And most meat. And most things containing sugar. And dairy.
I was surviving on oats, fruit and a lot of vegetables. Sometimes I ate a square of dark chocolate. But only sometimes. I drank water, almond milk and green tea only, and allowed very few “indulgences.” I felt nauseous every morning, and also very confused, because I couldn’t understand why I felt nauseous whilst eating so “healthily.”
I spent every Sunday prepping my meals for the week and would eat every meal cold, straight from the fridge, for the sake of saving time and avoiding any potential “slip-ups.” I lost weight quickly and considered that to be my cue that I was on the right track.
A couple of months in, I joined a gym. I rose at 5 AM every weekday to squeeze a session in before work, and soon I started to see a change in my physique; I had visible muscle for the first time ever. But, more and more my goal was shifting from being my performance-focussed aim of simply bettering my dancing skills, to further altering my physical appearance, and it was taking its toll.
I struggled to be social because restaurant menus (and eating anything in, what I considered to be, excess), made me anxious. (Sound familiar? See the signs you’re suffering from disordered eating). I felt so fatigued I had to nap in the back seat of my car on my lunch break. My work, that I cared so much about, suffered.
I spent all my time Googling recipes and gimmicky exercises, and I spent all my money on superfood ingredients to make healthy, gluten-free, fun-free loaves of bread that cost upwards of $15 and took up an entire evening (and tasted a cereal box). Some friends would jibe that I needed to eat a burger or two.
Others would compliment my smaller shape, and so, hungry for more, I continued on.
In my mind, my size and my self-worth were directly linked, and the new, smaller me was of higher value than the softer-round-the-edges me from a few months prior.
It was an obsession, no doubt, but one that I had somehow convinced myself was beneficial to my wellbeing.
I wasn’t skipping meals or drinking gallons of water to suppress my appetite I had done as a teen, nor was I bingeing. I thought I had the whole balance thing nailed down.
I don’t recall there ever being a big turning point; no “What have I been doing?” lightbulb moment, but the month I skipped a period due to overtraining and undernourishing was, understandably, a big red flag.
Luckily, my obsession, whilst still potentially detrimental to my health, was with improving my strength and performance, not with shrinking my size. So, the more I read up on how to better my abilities, the more I learnt how mistaken I had been, and how to adapt my approach.
I increased my food intake and loosened the reigns. I ditched flirting with fad dieting trends, and stopped splurging on unnecessary smoothie ingredients. I scheduled rest and prioritized recovery.
I stopped giving myself a hard time for taking a day off, or eating dessert, and instead considered it to be part of the process. (Find yourself demonizing food? It could be a sign of orthorexia.)
Now, I eat intuitively. I move because it makes my body, and my mind, feel good, and I pass up the unnecessary workouts I used to guilt myself into doing. I focus on other areas of my wellbeing; sleep quality, social interaction, stress management, and I feel happier for it.
I did improve somewhat at dancing but, spoiler alert, didn’t become the next female Flatley.
I did, however, become stronger both physically and mentally, and I found a career in educating others–through written word–on the best ways they can support their bodies.
So, it turns out, I achieved a goal far more advantageous than the original. And it’s one that I continue chipping away at every day.
Next, learn the trick to having a good relationship with junk food.
The best overall diets for 2019
If getting healthy is one of your top New Year's resolutions, it may be time to rethink your eating habits. While fad diets will come and go, there are some tried-and true healthy eating plans that can help get you on the right track.
U.S. News & World Report, in collaboration with a panel of health experts, evaluated and ranked 41 diets. To be top-rated, a diet had to “be safe, relatively easy to follow, nutritious and effective for weight loss.” It also had to be proven to help prevent heart disease and diabetes.
- Diet trends for 2019: What to try, what to skip
Here's a closer look at the highest-ranking diets overall.
1. Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet got the top ranking in U.S. News' list. The heart-healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, along with healthy fats olive oil, nuts and avocados.
Research has shown the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease and may have numerous other health benefits, including reduction of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, as well as a decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and cancer. In fact, one recent study published in British Journal of Nutrition found adhering to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 25 percent lower chance of death from any cause.
2. DASH diet
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet was designed to help manage blood pressure, but experts say it has many overall health benefits, helping it nab the number 2 spot on the best overall diets list.
The diet emphasizes healthy food sources, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, skinless poultry and fish, and nuts and legumes. It also limits red meat, salt, and sweets.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, research suggests the DASH diet may help reduce the risk of diabetes and may also help fight depression.
3. Flexitarian diet
Flexitarian is a marriage of the words “flexible” and “vegetarian.
” The term was coined by registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner in her book “The Flexitarian Diet: The Mostly Vegetarian Way to Lose Weight, Be Healthier, Prevent Disease and Add Years to Your Life.” U.S.
News ranked it high on the list for being nutritionally complete, easy to follow, and providing long-term weight loss as well as heart health benefits.
In the book, Blatner says you don't have to cut out meat entirely to reap the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Eating a diet that's mostly vegetarian while also allowing for an occasional burger or steak to satisfy a craving can help with weight management and improve overall health, Blatner says.
4 (tie). MIND diet
The MIND Diet combines many elements of two other popular nutrition plans which have been proven to benefit heart health: the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. (MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.)
Designed by researchers from the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, the aptly named MIND diet was developed specifically for brain health.
In fact, one study found the diet may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by as much as 53 percent.
Even those who didn't stick to the diet perfectly but followed it “moderately well” reduced their risk of Alzheimer's by about a third, the researchers found.
The MIND diet: 10 foods that fight Alzheimer's (and 5 to avoid)
The eating plan features a wide variety of options, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, poultry, and fish.
4 (tie). WW (Weight Watchers) diet
The Weight Watchers diet tied for fourth place with the MIND diet. Although designed to help people lose weight, experts say its focus on healthier living makes it a smart overall diet to follow.
The WW Freestyle program was launched in 2017 and builds off the company's signature SmartPoints system, which assigns every food and beverage a point value, its nutrition. The new program expands dietary options. The plan also involves in-person meetings or online chats designed to support those in the program and keep them accountable.
A number of popular diets, including the keto diet, Dukan diet, and the Whole30 diet received some of the lowest rankings on U.S. News' list.
Lack of scientific evidence for health benefits and severe restriction of foods – including certain healthy foods – were listed as reasons for low scores.
Diet trends: Pros and cons of keto, pegan, fasting and more