What is a healthy diet?


A healthy diet doesn't mean you need a lot of money, the latest appliances or any kind of gimmick.
Healthy eating is about listening to that little voice in your mind. It is knowing what healthy food
looks like – what is fresh and recognisable in nature.

Cropped image of a woman eating at a restaurant table.

This kind of sensibility may not fit well with the on-demand culture of wanting results now, whether
it's dinner or weight loss. If you want a programme that will work in the long run, you need a lifestyle
that you are comfortable with. This requires a nutritious and tasty diet, but it also requires a little
planning and effort.

[See Mediterranean diet snacks].
Being thin is a big part of good health, but losing weight doesn't necessarily mean you're healthy.
New diets designed to slash a few centimetres off your waistline can be detrimental to your health if
they shut out entire food groups, are extremely restrictive, rely on supplements without scientific
backing, or are extremely calorie-intensive.

Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian in Philadelphia, says, "Keeping up with the latest diet craze has
become a full-time job." It can be overwhelming." She points out that the research can be confusing.
For example, suppose one day you read a new study that says eating eggs is good for your health. For
example, one day you read a new study that says eating eggs is good for your health, and the next
day you find out about another study that says eating eggs is bad for your heart health.

Young and happy woman eating healthy salad sitting on the table with green fresh ingredients indoors

In Best Diets 2021, you'll find the nutritional integrity and safety of 39 popular diets, including Atkins,
Pregnancy Diet, and WW (Weight Watchers), with detailed profiles created for each diet. (Also, U.S.
News' "Best Diets for Healthy Eating" rankings give each diet a "healthiness" rating from 5 (highest)
to 1 (lowest) for safety and nutrition, but double the rating for safety.

[Read: Heart-healthy soup.]
Behind these scores are ratings from diet and nutrition experts gathered by U.S. News, who
evaluated the foods on seven categories, including safety and nutritional integrity, to create nine
different rankings. The "Best Healthy Diets" largely overlap with the "Best Overall Diets". Both give
particularly high marks to the DASH, MIND, TLC, Mediterranean, Mayo Clinic and Volumetrics diets.

The high scores for safety and nutritional value are very similar," says Andrea Giancoli, a registered
dietitian who sits on the expert panel for U.S. News.Andrea Giancoli, a registered dietitian who sits
on the expert panel for U.S. News, says, "The high scores for safety and There are similarities
between safe and nutritious diets," says Andrea Giancoli, a registered dietitian who participates in
U.S. News professional meetings. "They contain plenty of vegetables, fruit and whole grains to
provide sufficient calories, lean protein, non-fat dairy products, healthy fats in moderation and the
occasional snack. Plant-based, the menu always consists of foods that are minimally processed.

U.S. News has also created a category called "Best Plant-Based Diets" because plant-based diets are
so healthy and growing in popularity. It also profiles gluten-free and low FODMAP diets, which are
said to ease digestive distress, as food intolerances and sensitivities are on the rise. However, these
are not intended to be general diets and are not ranked.

[See "7 Reasons to Choose a Plant-Based Diet"].
Plans like the Raw Food Diet and Whole30 have not fared as well. Experts say that plans like the Raw
Food and Whole30 are simply too restrictive and nutritionally problematic. On a meat-heavy Paleo
diet, where grains and dairy products are banned, it's not easy to get enough calcium or vitamin D.
By drastically reducing carbohydrates, Atkins far exceeds the recommended levels of total and
saturated fat. In addition, the raw food diet can lead to inadequate intakes of calcium, vitamin B12
and vitamin D. Because of the restricted cooking methods, there is a risk of eating raw or
undercooked foods.

If you have any concerns about nutritional value or safety, listen to your body. Fatigue, insomnia,
dizziness, pain – these are all danger signs.

It's important to remember that healthy eating is not just about losing weight, says Denise Taylor, a
registered dietitian at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital in Arlington, Texas. "A healthy diet is
one that promotes health and fights disease," Taylor says. "'There is no one diet that is right for
everyone, so it's important to plan a diet that takes into account your lifestyle and includes lots of
tasty, healthy foods.

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