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Why all diet plans are more similar than you think

There are so many diet books on the market it’s not surprising that people get confused about what they should eat. Clean eating, the Zone diet, low carb, the Dukan diet, low fat, high fibre, paleo, eating for your blood type, intermittent fasting, the Mediterranean diet, the Sirt diet, etc, etc, etc.

If you bought only a handful of those books and tried to make sense of their recommendations your head would be spinning and you’d never manage to work out what you should be eating for better health or weight loss.

But in fact, diets are much more similar than you think. If you stop looking at what they include and instead look at what they exclude you’ll see some striking similarities.

How about sugar, refined white carbohydrates, bad fats, processed foods, fizzy drinks, processed meats, too much alcohol? You won’t see any of those in a diet book. And that’s because they are the main culprits when it comes to weight gain, lack of energy and health issues.

If you cut out those culprits, then your diet automatically improves – you’re left with vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, poultry, dairy, nuts, seeds, whole grains and pulses.

Now you may not like all of those things, and if you’re trying to follow a diet plan which includes things you don’t like or doesn’t fit your lifestyle you’re not going to be able to stick to that plan.

So if you really feel you need to follow a structured plan, make it as easy as possible for yourself. Accept that there’s no magic combination of foods or miracle ingredients for weight loss, but if you first cut out the stuff no one recommends, you can then shop around for a diet book which includes the things you like to eat and which fits your lifestyle. For instance, if you don’t like cooking don’t choose a book which requires you to prepare complicated meals from scratch; if you eat out a lot don’t choose a diet which relies on you preparing all of your own food.

But really the ideal scenario is that you don’t follow a specific plan – while you’re following a plan there’s always the chance of going “off plan” which then causes many dieters to give up completely (or at least until Monday) and leads to yo-yo dieting. Cut out the harmful foods from your diet, eat healthy stuff most of the time and explore new healthy recipes and ingredients from time to time to keep things interesting, and that may be the only plan you need.