Perhaps you’ve heard of the Whole30 diet, which is a 30 day diet that promises to “reset” your body and “change your life.” This diet eliminates foods that cause inflammation and is said to eliminate cravings, rebalance hormones, cure digestive issues, and boost energy and immune function. All traces of sugar, grains, alcohol, dairy and legumes are eliminated for 30 days. Because the diet is so restrictive, it is not meant to be followed long-term.
A positive aspect of this diet is that it urges you to eat whole foods, including lots of vegetables. It also encourages a focus on healthy eating through meal prep, grocery shopping, and cooking. Because the diet is so restrictive, however, entire food groups are eliminated, which puts you at risk for missing out on key nutrients your body needs, including calcium and Vitamin D. A restrictive diet such as this one often results in weight loss in the short term, but sets people up for failure and eventual weight gain since this diet is difficult to sustain. There is also little research on the long-term effects of following the Whole30 Diet and it may be unsafe for some people.
The Mediterranean Diet is similar to the Whole30 Diet, but more realistic to follow life-long. There is extensive research showing the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, including decreased incidence of heart disease and cancer. Rather than a short-term diet, the Mediterranean Diet encourages a healthy lifestyle. The characteristics of this diet include:
- High consumption of olive oil rather than butter
- High intake of plant-based foods including vegetables, fruits and legumes
- Whole grains rather than refined sugars
- Consumption of fish three to four times per week
- Limit red meat to a few times per month
- One to two small classes of wine per day with meals (optional)
- Nuts as snacks
- Using herbs and spices to flavor food rather than salt
- Enjoying meals with family and friends
- Physical activity
The Whole30 diet does have some positive aspects to it, but is too restrictive to follow long-term. The Mediterranean Diet is a much better option to and incorporates healthy behaviors that sustainable.