Trends are always an aspiration, holding more of an aesthetic temporary value, rather than handing over application principles. But let’s bring out that pretty little silver lining & seek it’s guidance in filtering out what we can positively apply from the trending diets of 2020.
PLANT BASED DIETS: Moving away from the strictness of veganism, a plant based diet insists the inclusion of several servings of fruits and vegetables declaring them the host of the diet. Unlike the vegan diet, the plant based diet doesn’t shy away from animal foods with a couple of servings allowed in the week. About 10-12% of the diet could include unprocessed meats like fish and & poultry while of course steering clear of cold cuts, red and processed meats.
Oils like olive and canola are encouraged along with whole grains and beans/legumes. Largely, more servings of vegetables and heartening but not limitless portions of fruits make up the spine of this diet. Dr. Ambika Satija of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health quoted
For heart health protection, your diet needs to focus on the quality of plant foods, and it’s possible to benefit by reducing your consumption of animal foods without completely eliminating them from your diet
And that is what this diet does, it encourages good heart health reducing the risk of heart blocks and disease.
THE INDIAN TRADE OFF: Let go off the olive and canola oils and use instead local nut and seed oils like peanut, mustard, coconut and sesame oils which aren’t processed, just filtered.
Include organic dairy like yoghurt, buttermilk and/or paneer, 3-4 servings a week!
PRIMAL DIET: The primal diet takes us back to the days when industrialization & farming were yet to be discovered. Think back to the foods of that time and you will start defining in your mind’s eye the foods that maketh the “primal diet”. Raw, vegetables, fruits, nuts, unpasteurized milk, cooked meats, fish, honey, starchy vegetables like potato and yam are permitted on this diet. Rice and wheat you ask? No my friend, as farming hadn’t touched those times, if you have to include grains, then wild rice and quinoa it is!! No dals, pulses, legumes and other grains, none of the processed oils/soy either.
The largest advantage of this diet is the exclusion of sugar and with this winning move the primal diet can greatly help people fight diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity and problems of the gut.
THE INDIAN TRADE OFF: The primal diet forgets that our gut has adapted. To change. To what we are now used to eating and hence we shall use cleverly certain products to our advantage on the primal diet to improve satiety & fulfillment and yet retain the benefits of the original diet.
Include 1-1.5 servings of whole grain in the diet daily, thrice a week in the afternoon & thrice a week at night. This could include rice/whole wheat/dal/legumes, just once a day.
Instead of milk, include yoghurt made at home (1s/day) and also 1-2 servings of home fermented veggies and possibly fruits. Beet & carrot kvass are superb options! This will help our gut fight off infections better with reduced inflammation.
THE KETO DIET: The diet was a winner (though definitely not in my personal list!! 😉) in 2019 and will continue to trend the charts in 2020 due to it’s unique profile that makes one lose weight before you even realize what’s on your plate! Wee bit exaggerated but yes, the pace of fat loss is addictive and keeps you hooked onto the diet. Ironical when you think that the keto is a 70% fat based diet. But the keto can bring on nutritional deficiencies, headaches and constipation as side effects & it’s sustainability is highly questionable.
THE INDIAN TRADE OFF: Playing the devil’s advocate, the keto does fight overweight and obesity like a warrior. While I do not encourage the keto for more than 2-3 weeks and if at all to only break certain weight set points or plateaus, there may be a way to use it’s principle a little differently.
Reduce the fats to 55%. Increase proteins to 30-35%. Include 1s of a carbohydrate every afternoon. Equivalent to 1 roti/ ½ cup rice/1/2 cup millet. Pulses and dals remain excluded. This is for week 1. Continue for 2-3 weeks or as long as you continue to lose weight, which happens first.
After 2 weeks, trade the grains in the afternoon for 200 grams of fruit along with the intended protein.
And then for another 10 days, perform the actual keto dance!
Slowly get back to a balanced diet while weaning off the keto, introducing carbohydrates like grains and pulses just a little at a time and moving onto a higher protein diet. Simultaneously reduce the added fats like butter and ghee in the diet.
Intermittent Fasting: It’s a fast and it has never gone out of fashion. It’s traditional and exists since time immemorial. It may don different name and principles, it’s advantages may be well elaborated today but it’s a practice that has never been and never will be doubted.
MY WORD OF CAUTION: The number of hours you fast for must be comfortable for your body. It must bolster positive changes in your gut and sugar regulation. Women during their menstruation years must not attempt more than 14 hours, while men can go on up to 16 hours. I do not inspire a fast of more than 16 hours as it may prove unsustainable and nutritionally stumping to many.
Mediterranean-Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND DIET): The MIND diet combines the principles of the Mediterranean diet (designed to reduce risk of CVDs and diabtes) along with the DASH diet (designed to reduce the risk of hypertension) along with certain prominent additions. The claim is that this diet can reduce substantially the risk to diseases like Dementia, Alzheimers. The rise in the incidences of neurodegenerative disorders can be attributed to several environmental, genetic and lifestyle contributions.
Inflammation, vitamin deficiencies, smoking, depression, chemical exposure, lack of sleep have all been indicted in the increasing risk of brain related diseases.
And hence the MIND diet comes to focus in a very positive light. It is a new concept and requires more research to call out loud it’s advantages but it’s propagation can bring in no harm.
The MIND highlights the intake of berries like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries, etc and all veggies with an assortment of colours – not just dark green leafy veggies as in the Mediterranean diet – all towards building up antioxidant levels in the body to reduce oxidative stress and to increase the scavenging of free radicals. It also includes the use of whole grains, beans, fish and poultry. Besides setting stage for a healthier brain, The MIND diet like it’s two parent diets reduces the risk to heart disease, hypertension, diabetes & potent inflammation.
MY TRADE OFF: Make sure you get in a good omega 3 supplement, Zinc, Vit D and B12 after testing your blood nutrient levels.
Butter and ghee are good additions to the cooking medium.
Since the gut is our second brain, I would highly encourage the addition of fermented veggies and Kvass with every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Prebiotics like legumes, soluble and insoluble fibers (like oats and wheat bran, chicory, psyllium and barley) will encourage the growth of beneficial colonies in the gut.
Diets, healthy diets which encourage wholesome eating and a balanced approach to food and eating practices must be encouraged. But principles that only target weight loss ruthlessly must be shamed and warded off entry into your life or your kitchen.
Starvation and crash diets have always and will always trend on the “NOT TO” list, let’s reiterate this again in 2020 which we must promise ourselves will be another year of calculated health and bountiful energy.
Anupama Menon is a nutritionist and food coach based in Mumbai and Bangalore offering sustainable nutritional plans with 3 chEATs per week. To book an appointment call 9902060225 or follow her on Instagram @iamanupamamenon