Having a hard time figuring out which meal plan is best for you and your body? You’re not alone.
Every day, another book or website pops up promoting the latest “healthy” diet, promising to change your life and your health practically overnight.
And while following a whole foods Primal or Paleo diet that models our ancestors is a great place to start, it is important to personalize your meal plan to meet your own unique dietary and health needs including:
- Food allergies or intolerances
- Autoimmune issues
- Hormone and thyroid issues
- Digestive issues – like SIBO
- Calorie requirements
- Types and amounts of starches (if any) to include
- Ketogenic or low carb meal plan requirements
- Protein requirements
- Meal timing and frequency
- Much, much more
In this brief article, we’ll go through some of the popular diet plans and point you towards helpful articles on our site to help you learn more about creating your personalized optimal health meal plan.
Is A Vegetarian Meal Plan Healthy?
Of course vegetables are good for you. But is a vegetarian diet good for you? Not necessarily. In fact, going vegetarian can mean missing out on a wide variety of important nutrients – like zinc, vitamin B12, CLA, long chain omega 3 fats, vitamin A and more.
Worse still, many vegetarian meal plans are loaded with veggie burgers, meat substitutes and processed cookies or chips. While they may be free of animal products, they are loaded with sodium, preservatives, refined carbs and sugar.
We at Healing Gourmet do not advocate vegetarianism because of the nutrient deficiencies these diets can cause and the wide variety of chronic diseases to which these deficiencies contribute. If you do choose a vegan or vegetarian meal plan, work with a holistic practitioner to assess and monitor your nutritional status.
Think Global With a Mediterranean Diet Plan
Many Americans have adapted the eating habits of those in the Mediterranean regions of Greece, Italy, and Spain by eating a diet high in good-for-you ingredients like olive oil, fresh wild fish (never farm-raised fish) and other fresh, whole food ingredients.
This can be a very healthy way to eat, and studies have shown that natives in those areas of the world have significantly lower instances of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. But the key is to remember that many “Americanized” versions of these foods — frozen Mediterranean dinners or Greek takeout — don’t adhere to the key elements of the true Mediterranean diet meal plan.
Choose whole fresh foods, herbs and spices to create delicious Mediterranean diet plan.
Is a Gluten Free Meal Plan the Way to Go?
Gluten free is all the rage these days… but is it for you?
To put it simply, gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, and is typically in products like bread or pasta. While gluten gives bread its addictive chew and pasta its “al dente” bite, thi slittle protein has been found to have a number of harmful effects on the body – most of which relate to inflammation. Gluten-containing foods are also high on the glycemic index. This means they will spike blood sugar levels, promoting weight gain and contributing to chronic disease.
But eating a gluten free diet doesn’t necessarily equate to a healthy diet. Many high carb foods – such as rice or potatoes – are naturally gluten free. And there are a bevy of products labeled “gluten free” that have no nutritional value. (Learn about creating a low glycemic gluten free meal plan for weight loss here).
If you want to opt for a healthy, gluten free meal plan, stick to fresh organic produce, pasture-raised meats, wild fish and grass-fed dairy products. You may opt to include lower glycemic pseudograins like quinoa, if tolerated, as well. Be sure to avoid processed carbs and sugars (like potato starch and rice flour), and always read labels.
Step Back in Time With the Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet has become the star in the health and fitness world in recent years. And for good reason.
Eating the way our ancestors did — focusing on high quality meats and fresh veggies, with some fruits, nuts and seeds —eliminates many of the allergenic and inflammatory ingredients that zap our energy and can harm our health over time.
In addition to giving up gluten, the Paleo diet also eliminates all grains (like rice, amaranth and event “ancient grains”). True Paleo diets also restrict dairy (often with the exception grass-fed butter) and rely heavily on high quality fats like coconut oil.
When going Paleo, be sure to model the macronutrient ratios of our ancestors to get the benefits. This means high in healthy fats (60-70%), moderate in protein (20-30%) and low in carbs (10-15%) and very low in sugars (under 30 grams per day from whole food sources).
Do You Need a Detox Diet Plan?
A detox diet plan has a very broad spectrum of meanings. Essentially detoxing means getting rid of toxins in your body.
Often associated with juice fasts, it may come as a surprise that some of the most detoxifying foods are actually animal foods. The reason? Your body’s master antioxidant and detoxifier – glutathione – is produced by the liver and requires amino acids from proteins as a starting material. This means eggs, whey protein and grass-fed or pastured raised meats are great choices for boosting your body’s production of this important compound.
And what about juicing?
While fresh juices made with organic fruits and veggies can be a healthy practice, there are some important things you should know. First, many foods used for juicing – like spinach, kale and berries – are crops that are highly contaminated with pesticides (called The Dirty Dozen). Its important that you choose organic fruits and veggies for juicing. Another issue? Many fresh juices contain high levels of sugar – as much as 40 grams per serving! Sugar promotes a wide range of negative effects in the body – including promoting a fatty liver which not only compromises detoxification, but overall health and disease risk too.
If you’re already eating a healthy diet, you are providing your body with the important vitamins, minerals, micronutrients and amino acids it needs to cleanse and renew itself. Looking to root out causes of illness and allergies? Consider doing an elimination diet as a type of detox from the most common food allergens.
The Secret To Healthy Diet Plans
No matter which diet plan you choose, the key is to always rely on whole, fresh food, and animal products that come from animals that were raised properly.
Everyone is unique and will respond differently to different diets, but there is no doubt that processed, man-made foods are not part of any healthy diet plan.
Struggling to find recipes and meal plans to fit your particular diet needs? We’ve got you covered! Check out our healthy recipes , daily healthy menus , healthy meals, and sample meal plans to create a diet to fit your particular needs.
Want to learn the basic of meal planning? Check out our free guide – Meal Plans 101 – to learn the easy way to create a healthy and delicious meal plan for your family. You’ll learn everything there is to know to help build healthy habits to improve your health and physique. It’s yours absolutely free when you sign up for our newsletter.